Europe, Italy

Naples – Herculaneum and Vesuvius

So I’m going to attempt at giving you a small history lesson about what we visited today (Yes Mom, I know I failed Social Studies several times) bear with me.

Back in the year AD 79, Mount Vesuvius erupted. It is one of the most well known volcanic eruptions mainly for its complete demolition of two main cities here on the coast of Italy just outside of Naples. Herculaneum was one of those cities, although it wasn’t as buried and destructed as Pompeii, (which we will be visiting in a couple days) it is an UNESCO world heritage site. Mount Vesuvius erupting also caused an earthquake, so not only is the city covered in hardened lava rock but it is also dropped about 4 meters lower than the original spot the city was erected. The entire city was completely buried and was discovered during excavation in 1709 and is still being uncovered to this day.

Herculaneum was our first stop today. It was about a 20 minute walk from our Airbnb in Torre Del Greco. Entrance fee will run you 11 euro per person. A pretty hefty price if you ask me but well worth it. If you want an audio guide to carry around the site you can pay another 8 euro.

Herculaneum and Vesuvius (1 of 71)
Top view of Herculaneum

 

Walking around this place is quite something. To think the panic that went on when Vesuvius erupted, the lives lost and the beauty of this city gone so quickly. Vesuvius was actually at the time not considered a volcano due to it being dormant for 800 years. When the eruption happened, the lava was flowing at 160km/h so the inhabitants of Herculaneum didn’t have much time to flee. Herculaneum and Vesuvius (45 of 71)Herculaneum and Vesuvius (11 of 71)Herculaneum and Vesuvius (5 of 71)

At the site you can see original buildings, details in door frames, paintings, carvings, statues and flooring. Pieces of it of course as most was ruined but it gives you some detail about the life that was lived here. I highly recommend visiting if coming to Naples.

Herculaneum and Vesuvius (41 of 71)Herculaneum and Vesuvius (24 of 71)

Our second stop today was Mount Vesuvius. You can grab a tour bus to take you most of the way up for 10 euros and another 10 euro entrance fee to climb it. Its about a 30 minute windy drive up but it seems as though the tour bus is the only way up other than a taxi or driving yourself up. We picked a good day to do the hike as it was a tad cooler out and cloudy. A nice change from yesterdays insane, unrelenting sun and humidity. Its not an overly difficult hike up but expect just as it sounds, a hike up a volcano. I would recommend a decent pair of shoes as coming down would suck in anything without grip. When at the top, which takes roughly 45 minutes depending on your own abilities, you will find little shops to purchase water, food, wine, beer and a place to rest. I believe there was 3 or 4 of them. You can walk about halfway around the top of the volcano but you will need to hire a guide to go all the way around as the terrain gets fairly difficult on the opposite side. I cant tell you the cost on that as we never looked into for ourselves. From the top you have an amazing view of the surrounding cities along the ocean and can look straight down into the volcano itself. It was such a nice hike and totally worth the climb to the lookout.

Herculaneum and Vesuvius (63 of 71)
View from the top of Mount Vesuvius

Herculaneum and Vesuvius (54 of 71)

 

Mark and I enjoyed a glass of wine and beer at the top before descending back down. The tour bus gives you two hours from drop off to go to the top and come back down which is plenty enough time to see everything. Probably not enough to hire a guide though but you would have to research that a bit more.

By the time we got back to town we were pretty beat. We had planned on going to Pompeii today too but everything else took much longer than anticipated so we called it a day and headed to the grocery store. Mark cooked up some amazing homemade pesto gnocchi and tomato, ricotta meat sauce. Yes, I’m spoiled and yes, I brag about it as much as possible.

Make sure you add both these places to your list to visit if you plan on coming to Naples!

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