Vacation Memories 2018: Pompeii and Herculaneum

While researching excursions for the Amalfi Coast, where the ship was going to port, I was immediately drawn to Pompeii. As I kept reading about what to do, I read a few articles stating that Herculaneum was really better than Pompeii. There were no ship excursions that included the two of them, so we looked into hiring a private tour guide and transportation. It wasn’t that expensive when divided among five of us, and we went at our pace. This ended up being a real plus because one of the women had a bad case of pneumonia the winter before and couldn’t walk a lot, I had hurt myself in Florence and was coming off my knee surgery, and my son had broken his foot around the end of May. I can’t stress enough the advantage we had of a private tour in this port.

It was a gorgeous drive of about an hour from where the ship was berthed to Pompeii. We chose to do that first.

Pompeii is an amazing experience. There is nothing in the world like it. There is no place you can go that will be able to replicate the experience. Our tour guide didn’t have the headsets for us, but we walked together as a group and she answered all our questions. She would ask us if we were interested in seeing certain things and bring us to that.

I was amazed to learn that this was once a port city. The entrance we walked in was once where boats docked. All of the land between there and the sea was filled in when Mount Vesuvius erupted.

What was preserved there was amazing, both inside and out. The black structure on the lower left (above) is the original wood that was in this building that was scorched and remained intact and was petrified. The forms of people came from the pyroclastic flow enveloping them as they perished, and then once archaeologists began excavation the site, they would find these pockets where people had one been and fill them in to recreate the form of the person.

There is still digging going on at Pompeii and more and more artifacts being found.

Pompeii was crowded. We exited the archaeological park and had lunch at a pizza place just outside the exit. We bought our tour guide lunch and sat with her as well. It was really great to be able to enjoy a casual lunch and talk with the tour guide in a small group. I bought Limoncello at the Pompeii gift shop.

Herculaneum is the real gem, though. This city was on the Mediterranean and had a lot of shipping when Mount Vesuvius erupted. The town itself was a retreat for the Roman elite and was a wealthier city. It was preserved more intact than Pompeii and with more detail. It was also just about empty compared to all of the people at Pompeii.

When the volcano erupted, the people of Herculaneum ran to the boat sheds looking for boats to save them. These are actual human skeletal remains that are in this area.

It was fascinating to walk through here. Our tour guide showed us the various buildings and told us what had been there at one time. We saw bathhouses and brothels; bakeries and homes. It was like we had the place all to ourselves; there were so few people here.

I know I seem to be saying it all the time, but this was an incredible tour that I wouldn’t have wanted to miss. I’d gladly go back to this area and explore more. Our other friends toured Sorrento and it’s just a stunning area all around.