Friday, January 11, 2019

Herculaneum: historic village looks at life five centuries B.C.

When Vesuvius erupted, the explosion covered nearby Pompeii, but not as deeply as Ercolano, thus the preservation.



Buried beneath the slopes of Vesuvius, Ercolano was once a thriving
"vacation town" for wealthy Romans, who loved the countryside.

Ercolano is approached from a busy tourist area, with
plenty of restaurants lining the road to the ruins.
 THE LOST city of Herculaneum (Ercolano in Italian) was founded between the seventh and fifth centuries B.C. It was both a fishing village and a wealthy get-away -- the Palm Springs of its day -- a vacation enclave for well
heeled Romans escaping city life.
Cookie enters the path to Ercolano.
By the time the 79 AD eruption  ended, Herculaneum was buried by 20 metres of volcanic material. Nearby Pompeii was buried by only five metres of volcanic material and thus deteriorated through the years while Ercolano remained virtually intact, "fossilized" for posterity. Most of the buildings in Pompeii collapsed in the fall of pumice stone while this didn't happen in Herculaneum.  So off we were to this lesser known product of the wrath of Vesuvius. Fast-moving pyroclastic flow (rock, hot gas and other volcanic matter) was the devastating result of the eruption, which killed all the residents of both settlements. The gas reached a temperature of over 1,830 degrees F.
Bruce Keller poses above the lost then found village.  

FROM FOUND documents, researchers learned that Ercolano was an ancient Roman fishing town also enjoyed by wealthy Romans, who vacationed or had lavish second homes in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius. We were thrilled to read about the village and took a day trip from Napoli, Naples in English. First, we booked the direct express train from Rome to Naples, then switched to the Circumvesuviana train, a colorful ride out of Naples to the east of the city near Mount Vesuvius.
The excitement of discovering a  village more than 2,000 years old
awaits if you visit Herculaneum -- Ercolano in Italian. It's near Naples.
WHAT WE FOUND is rare. This tiny city, buried by the devastating eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79, has been carefully conserved to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Thanks to the pyroclastic surge, much of the organic based wood objects remained intact, so these archaeological treasures give a glimpse of life of both the fishermen and the wealthy Romans they fed. Mosaics, frescoes, artwork, and even dried fruit and vegetables were sealed in the mud and uncovered centuries later. Surprisingly, we found few tourists  here, halfway between the more frequented and touristy towns of Pompeii and Naples, home of pizza!
   Although excavation began in the mid-1700s, earnest development of the site began only in the past 75 years. This peek into the past is sure to be rapidly discovered.  If you're in the vicinity, don't miss it. You can tie it in with a Vesuvius visit:

Donkey Tours will take you off the beaten track, to wonders of Gaudi
and Picasso, Roman ruins that not everyone knows about and much more.  
UP NEXT: Heard of Donkey Tours Barcelona? Want up close and personal looks at the wonders of this exciting city, from Picasso's haunts to the best croissant in town, little known Roman ruins and paella to put your taste buds in happy overdrive. We share the delights of this wonderfully engaging tour group which prides itself in knowledgeable, fun guides. Meanwhile, remember to explore, learn and live and catch us Fridays for a unique view of life with travel, the arts, nature and family.


  1. Santa Monica GlobetrottersJanuary 12, 2019 at 6:46 PM

    Another winner from the travel annals of you two globetrotters! We are flying to Venice in May, then will be in Naples for a week. Had planned a Pompeii visit and will make a sidetrip to Herculaneum. Thank you

  2. Fun times on the trail with you two adventurers. Hope to see this wonder on our next European foray.