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Roman Ruins at Herculaneum

ITALY | Friday, 29 October 2021 | Views [124]

Herculaneum with Vesuvius looming

Herculaneum with Vesuvius looming

CASA CINQUE DOESN’T HAVE MUCH CURB APPEAL. Our neighbors fight like Ralph and Alice and the bar downstairs is jumping on weekends, so we keep our earplugs nearby. The fourth floor flat—terzo piano—does have two bedrooms, a practical kitchen with a view of Mt. Vesuvius, good wifi, a washer, plentiful hot water, an elevator—and FREE parking, not easy to find in Pompei. It’s convenient to the autostrada, there is a decent supermarket around the corner and we’re just a short walk from the famous archeological site at Pompeii.


   That's where we live           


                                   Our view of Vesuvius

Even so, we decided to visit Herculaneum first, Pompeii’s less famous neighbor. Back in 79 AD—the exact date is “under review” but more on that later—Mt. Vesuvius erupted covering Pompeii in six-meters of ash and killing an estimated 1000 unlucky residents.



The volcano had other plans for Herculaneum—the wealthy seaside town, nearer to Vesuvius than Pompeii, was covered with more 16-meters of ash and boiling mud. Boiling mud! Ouch! When the malevolent mixture hardened everything beneath it was protected. Even organics like fabric, food, vegetation and wood were preserved better than your grandma’s pickles. 


   Burnt Bed still preserved


                 Well-preserved Fresco


                                           Frescos and Floor


                                                        College of the Augustales

The ruins were accidentally “discovered” in 1707 when pieces of marble appeared during the digging of a well. Archeology was a haphazard activity until the 20th Century that archeologists began systematically to excavate ruins. Important finds like the Temple of Venus were made in the ‘80s. Work has increased since 2000, especially around the House of Papyrus and the library. Connie had read about both which she really wanted to see and was disappointed to learn they were very much off-limits to mortals like us.


                  Palestra at Herculaneum

We had been to Herculaneum in 2012 and remembered much (or some, in my case) of the site. I was impressed by the new support scaffolding which hopefully means that new preservation techniques will preserve Herculaneum for generations to come.


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