Naples is maybe not the top touristic destination, but it certainly has a lot to offer. An easy connection via Circumvesuviana train to such highlights as Pompeii, Herculaneum (Italian: Ercolano) and Vesuvius (Italian: Vesuvio) make it a great hub to visit the area. Naples itself is quite well described as an ‘Urban Jungle’. It definitely is far from being the most romantic city in the world. However, I think it has some peculiar charm.
Vesuvius – the volcano that nobody expected to be. Nowadays, reaching 1,281 m (4,203 ft) it’s only about a third of its original height. The so believed ‘mountain’ blew up suddenly in 79 AD destroying and covering with ash and pyroclastic flows surrounding cities – best known being Pompeii.
Jump on a Circumvesuviana train (very accurate name, by the way, see schedules here) from Naples and within 20 minutes you can reach Herculaneum. There is a mini-bus transport to the entry of Vesuvius National Park. We decided to take the trip up to make the most of the weather and having limited time frame. It’s not the most exciting deal, as it costs ca. 20Euros. At the top, you get 1,5h to walk around, take pictures, see souvenirs or get a snack. It takes about 0,5h to climb up the hill to the caldera. I have to say that the whole experience was a bit on a ‘lame’ side and I’m sure that taking a hike on one of the trails around the park sounds like a much better option if you have time and are willing to walk. Anyway, we’ve enjoyed it, appreciating the fact that we are walking on top of an active volcano, which has proven to be very unpredictable and dangerous several times before (with the last eruption being in 1944). Honestly, I don’t believe that too many people on the path realized this ‘little detail’…
From the same train station in Herculaneum, you can walk down the street to the excavation area of Ercolano Scavi (it’s about 1km from there) or take the train further to Pompeii (another 20 minutes).
Pompeii and Herculaneum – the ancient victims and the best witnesses. Mostly destroyed in 79 AD during the eruption of Vesuvius, today they provide us with remarkable details of ancient lifestyle preserved under the volcanic ashes for centuries.
Take the Circumvesuviana train from Naples to get to Pompeii. The trip takes about 40 minutes.
What can I say? Most of us have at least heard about Pompeii. It is the most visited of the excavation areas around Naples. It is also the biggest (actually, I was very impressed with its size!). The entire ancient city is here to be explored: the temples, public bath-houses, shops, bakeries, theatre, private residences and even brothels! It gives a really good overview of the Roman town and day-to-day life of its people. I was very impressed with the bath houses, well thought and designed – they even had floor heating! In some places, you can also find the lead water pipes.
The cast figures of people that didn’t manage to escape on time are definitely the most striking part of the museum. Especially when you try to imagine and empathize…
For ticket information see: http://www.tickitaly.com/tickets/pompeii-information.php
Less popular, but very worth visiting is the Ercolano Scavi. Buried more rapidly than Pompeii, by deep pyroclastic material, it has some remarkably well-preserved pieces of architecture. Carbonized wood is one of them and you can find a lot of it around door frames or roof supports. Herculaneum was a more wealthy, though much smaller town than Pompeii. It is also closer to Naples, which can make it a good alternative to a longer trip to Pompeii.
For ticket information see: http://www.tickitaly.com/tickets/herculaneum-information.php
Being in Naples you really shouldn’t miss the Naples National Archaeological Museum, as it contains a collection of sculptures, objects and decorations (including mosaics and frescos) excavated in Pompeii and Herculaneum, removed from their original location for preservation. It also has a unique section of ancient erotic art 😉
Many people may underestimate this Museum and limit their visit only to the main excavation sites. But, although they are very impressive, you will miss on very interesting details if you decide to skip it!
For ticket information see: http://www.tickitaly.com/tickets/naples-archaeological-information.php