7. From Naples: Pompeii and Herculaneum Half-Day Private Trip
The Bay of Naples is one of the most beautiful places in all of Italy. A pristine curve of coastline hemmed in by hills, it is the looming and unmistakable presence of Mount Vesuvius that lingers longest in the memory – and that provides an eternal reminder of one of the greatest tragedies of antiquity. In 79 A.D., the volcano erupted with an almost unimaginable ferocity. But the ancient cities’ loss was histories gain: paradoxically, the very forces that obliterated Pompeii and Herculaneum would also prove to preserve them for future generations. Protected by the layers of ash, the two cities were preserved remarkably intact underground – freed from the ravages of time and the desecration of plunderers.
Pompeii, a bustling town of over 20,000 inhabitants when it was wiped off the map in the blink of an eye, today Pompeii is rightly regarded as one of the world’s most incredible archaeological sites. Give your imagination full rein as you wander along its complex jigsaw of streets, and listen out for the voices of their long-dead inhabitants as you weave your way past aristocratic villas and apartment blocks, fast-food joints, bathhouses, temples, theaters and more.
Discover the beating heart of civic life in the ancient world in Pompeii’s spectacular Forum; find out what our ancient forebears got up to for entertainment in the Amphitheater. We'll be visiting fast food restaurants and bakeries, warehouses and temples, even an ancient brothel complete with x-rated frescoes adorning its walls!
The spectacular aristocratic dwellings like the House of the Tragic Poet, with its famous Cave Canem mosaic, or the opulently frescoe House of the Vettii provide a fascinating window into the rarefied world of the ancient elites as well as learning about the tragic events of the day of the eruption.
Pompeii wasn’t the only city to be annihilated that dark day in October 79 AD. The smaller nearby town of Herculaneum, a beach resort for the ancient Roman elites that was according to tradition linked to the great mythological hero Hercules, was also engulfed by the volcano’s ash cloud.
When archaeologists dug deep into the pyroclastic layers, what they uncovered was remarkable. Herculaneum was a residential hub rather than a commercial city like Pompeii, so it lacks some of the latter’s great public edifices. But it was also wealthier, and its superb dwellings – such as the House of Neptune and Amphitrite with its pristine mosaics, or the Villa of the Papyri – more than make up for it.
Some of the sites we’ll visit on the tour include the Thermopolium (fast-food restaurant), the Temple of Augustali, the Thermal Baths, the House of Neptune and Amphitrite, the House of the Bel Cortile, and the ancient beach where the remains of Herculaneum’s victims were unearthed. Of course, your guide will customize the itinerary on the day to suit your interests!