Less busy and more manageable than its neighbor Pompeii, this site at the base of Mount Vesuvius is full of archaeological and cultural marvels.
Set foot in any of the historic ruins of Ercolano, Italy to walk among the ruins of a once impressive Roman city. Early signs of democratic thinking are visible here. Slaves regularly bought their freedom and even became full citizens over time. Learn the story behind this milestone in the development of Western Civilization.
Many come to Ercolano to visit the ruins of the volcano-buried Roman city of Herculaneum. Before Mount Vesuvius erupted in A.D. 79, Herculaneum was a seat of wealth, but it was also where wealthy and poor lived in close proximity. Its mosaics remain vividly colored and marble still gleams throughout multiple-story buildings. Walk among these ruins and imagine what it was like to roam this beautiful city.
Spend time on Il Miglio d’Oro (The Golden Mile). See the virtuosity of Roman architects in the elaborate construction of the most lavish mansions from the ancient city. Appreciate the fine details and intact interiors of Villa Favorita, Villa Aprile and Villa Compolieto.
Enter the Museo Archeologico Virtuale to learn about the daily lives of ancient residents. The museum is a great place to get a stimulating first exposure to the area’s history.
Although the ruins are a major tourist draw, roam the Mercato di Pugliano as well. This street market attracts vendors selling vintage clothes, often for a lower price than in shops. Buy an unusual souvenir, such as an old sweater.
Combine a visit to Ercolano, 150 miles (240 kilometers) from Rome, with a trip to Pompeii and Parco Nazionale del Vesuvio. Although you can see both in one day with enough careful planning, you may want to allow for more time.
Ercolano, unlike Pompeii, is developed all the way to the most interior parts of the city. Accommodations include converted Neapolitan-style mansion hotels near the ruins. When each day is over, look out from your room onto a spectacular view of the volcano-smothered historical landmark.