Why would you want to visit Pompeii, a city that had been frozen in time in the 1st century AD? What is this lost city, now discovered, that attracts so many visitors and inspires so much attention? Why is Pompeii important?
And what about Herculaneum, the nearby city at the base of the volcano, also completely destroyed by the same massive eruption? Herculaneum was flooded not by ash, but by a volcanic stream of boiling sludge, traveling at 450 miles per hour. When the mud cooled, it hardened to a 60-foot deep rock formation, and the city remained buried for over 17 centuries.
On a more realistic note, what do you really see during your visits to Pompeii and Herculaneum? And how can you best balance your visits to these amazing but ruined places with an equal dose of stunning beauty and enjoyment?
Why is Pompeii so exciting?
For beginners, consider this now abandoned, the ancient city was once a thriving port. It was here that nearly 1000 people died under a pile of 15-30 cm of volcanic ash when a violent eruption destroyed the top 3,000 feet of Mount Vesuvius, forming a huge four-and-a-half-mile column of debris that then returned to Earth.
Think of your visit to Pompeii as your own personal time machine to take you back to the year 79 AD. You will walk through a true Roman city, looking at the lifestyle and environment you would have experienced if you were alive in the 1st century. Yes, the city was finally destroyed. But before that he was very much alive. And, miraculously, the very event of its destruction has frozen and preserved it as a vivid depiction of life during these early Roman times.
What will you see in Pompeii?
What was it like to be a woman in 79 AD? If your family had a social situation, you would get married at the age of 14 and start at Dionysus's order. At this point, you would leave your own family behind and join your spouse, where you would take on the role of lady of the house. You will rarely, if ever, leave this home for the rest of your life. During your visit to Pompeii, you will be able to walk into some of these houses, with their fountains and courtyards, mosaics and gardens, which are preserved forever.
How were the world views and conditions very different based on your social status? The frescoes, still intact after 1700 years, show what life would be like for you as a member of the upper class, having a slave who put your shoes on or as a slave putting your shoes on.
What were the Roman baths where the men met to discuss business and politics and to prove and celebrate their supposed control over the universe? What was it about a prostitute where prostitutes lived in tiny cells with hard stone beds carved into the rocks?
What about public places? And amphitheaters for fun? What would it be like to walk the streets, fly from stone to stone to keep your shoes and clothes on the dirt that flows when the streets were used as sewers?
And then there are the plaster casts of many victims. Their decomposed bodies, buried for 1700 years, left cavities in the ash. During the excavations, these forms were filled with plaster. As a result, you will now see casts of real people – men, women and children, even pets – all in their final position, with their clothes and faces showing clearly. These blows bring to life the final inhabitants of Pompeii at the same time that life, as they knew it, was suddenly over. As macabre as these hits are, they are also magical.
Your time in Pompeii will be filled with one discovery after another. But you take an umbrella together, even if it is not raining. The sun beats in this barren landscape of ancient stone unacceptably, and we will be happy to protect it.
What more do you see in the neighboring town of Herculaneum?
Plan to visit Herculaneum, because it's even more remarkable than Pompeii. Again, this city was completely destroyed. But, in this case, the disaster came in the form of boiled mud. As a result, the city's structures were not flattened with ash as in Pompeii, but filled with melted mud that actually preserved the buildings as it was on that fateful day of the 1st century.
Herculaneum is definitely a visit for a different day. Don't even think about trying to visit Pompeii and Herculaneum on the same day. You may expect to save time using this compression strategy, but you will regret it seriously. Plan to treat each of these cities as a separate visit and give each city the time and attention it owes.
What is the best way to travel to these amazing ruined cities?
Both Pompeii and Herculaneum are located in the Gulf of Naples, near Mount Vesuvius. This body of water forms a bowl shape, ending at the edge of the Sorrentine peninsula. So when you visit these cities, plan to stay in Sorrento, on the edge of the peninsula.
Sorrento is a beautiful city with stunning views of Mount Vesuvius. It is perched high on a rocky cliff, with beaches and boats far below sea level, reaching an elevator that swallows under the rock.
Select a hotel near the elevator park. This will bring you within walking distance of many great restaurants and shops, even a small theater where you can watch local artists sharing their dances and music. At the end of your intense days wandering through the ancient ruins, you'll need and deserve a good meal, accompanied, of course, by some local wine.
How can you balance these test experiences with an equal measure of beauty and enjoyment?
So now you are in a hotel in Sorrento where you will have every opportunity to unwind after your very intense visits to Pompeii and Herculaneum. And from here, you're a short boat ride to the beautiful island of Capri.
So here you have the opportunity to balance all this tension. Buy a ticket, board the boat and head to Capri to spend at least a whole day. When you arrive, take the cable car to the top of the cliff and enjoy lunch in a bay-view restaurant.
Before you start the cable car, see the boat times The Blue Cave. Choose a tour at a time you can easily do, allowing at least an hour to wander the shops first.
Visit the harbor long before your Blue Grotto tour. This boat will take you to the entrance of the cave, where the small boats gush to wait for small groups to move through the tight opening.
Once inside, you will be captivated by the blue light. So here is the same measure of amazing beauty and enjoyment. You will keep this stunning image in your mind's eye forever.