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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Visiting Italy - Pompeii Vs Herculaneum

Mount Vesuvius as seen from Pompeii. Hi-res sc...Image via Wikipedia

All the world knows about the excavation's site of Pompeii, a Roman town, buried under the volcanic ash in 79 AD. Millions of tourists visit this site every year. It's one of the most visited touristic attractions of Italy. Not so many persons know about an other excavation's site, a Roman town Herculaneum, distant only 17 km from Pompeii, destroyed by the same eruption of the Vesuvius.

These sites are similar from one point of view. They are both excavations and museums under the open air. But there are differences that will maybe influence your choice when you plan what you would prefer to see. In this article I want to write about these similitude and differences.

Excavations of Pompeii cover great area. If you want to visit all parts of this site quietly, you have to plan at least half a day of walking. Think about your shoes first of all and about the clothes if the sun shines brightly. The temperatures are high in spring and in summer. Cover your head and take a bottle of water maybe. There are drinking fountains there but if you prefer mineral water it will be better to have it with you.

It would be great if you come there with a printed or bought before map or plan of the site and a list of the places you want to see. It's possible to find the map in the ticket office. But the possibilities they do not have the maps are very high so far as there are hundreds and thousands visitors every day. The list you prepared will help you, if your guide does not show you or your group something you are interested in. So you can ask what you want and visit the place when the group has free time.

Generally, Pompeii are ruins where is difficult to understand much without a guide or a preliminary preparation.

Excavations of Herculaneum are very "compact". They are situated inside the modern town of Ercolano (The modern town of Pompeii is developed near the excavations round the Sanctuary of Madonna of Rosary). The rules about your shoes, clothing and water are the same more or less. There are not drinking fountains, so, to have a bottle of mineral water can be useful. Visitors are here not so numerous, you can find maps and descriptions in all languages even if you come at 18:00, an hour before the closing time. For quiet visit you will need about an hour or two.

As opposed to Pompeii, the buildings are remarkably well preserved in Herculaneum. There are many frescoes and mosaics, villas preserve their statues, decorations and sometimes parts of furniture. There are incredible waves on the floors of many houses and bathes. You have not invent anything. Your eyes see and your mind understands what you have for. Read a little from the history before you go there or directly in the book you will receive with the ticket.

The other advantage of this site is, you can come here before or after the visit of the crater of Vesuvius.

What you will not find in Herculaneum are the plaster casts of the persons and animals that you can see in Pompeii in different houses.

Liudmila Pirojenko is a travel writer and author of travel blogs Vacation And Travel Talk and a new but just informative site The Marvelous World Of Travel where you can find many articles about interesting places in Campania, Italy and many other touristic attractions all over the world. She lives in Italy, not far from Naples, Salerno, Caserta. She is a member of the Archeological Group of Salerno.

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