A day trip to explore the ancient city of Pompeii is in order so we drive one hour from our Sorrento home around the Bay of Naples. With 2.5 million visitors a year one would think it would be full of visitors whenever it is open, but since we are traveling off-season there were just a few people wandering around looking at the ruins on this cloudy mid 60-degree day. Pompeii is located 5-miles SE of Vesuvius (mainland Europe’s only active volcano). The eruption of 79 A.D. buried and preserved the city in 20 ft. of solidified ash. Two-thirds of the city has been excavated but only one-third remains open to the public.
On another day we, again, drive around the Bay of Naples to the town of Ercolano to explore the ancient city of Herculaneum. About 12 hours after Pompeii had been hit with a pyroclastic flow (fast moving current of hot gas and rock), Herculaneum, west of Mt. Vesuvius, was buried and preserved with 60 ft. of solidified ash. Today, 75% of the city remains covered. There were even fewer people here than at Pompeii on the day we visited. While there was more to see at Pompeii, here in Herculaneum we really got a good feel of an ancient city because it is better preserved.
Due to lack of air and moisture for nearly 2000 years, these sites remain the best ancient ruins visible to us today. Unfortunately, both cities are deteriorating due to many complications. It was fascinating to see such ancient sites that would not have even been here if it wasn’t for the eruption. Visiting both sites without the crowds of people kept the feeling of both areas very quiet and somber. This was a big check off my list!
Note: Many of the artifacts from both sites can be found in the Archaeological Museum of Naples, but as we all know Naples – not safe (see previous post).
Thanks for joining us on our journey.