The perfect itinerary to immerse yourself in ancient Roman civilization
20 Aug 2023
If you are planning a cultural itinerary for your summer holidays and are looking for a special destination, then you could visit Pompeii and Herculaneum. These ancient cities, buried by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD, are authentic outdoor treasures to discover.
Neither of them is far from Naples, a city where artistic beauty, culture and entertainment are not lacking.
Discover what there is to see in Pompeii and nearby Herculaneum, to experience an authentic journey through time into ancient Roman civilisation.
What to see in Pompeii
Pompeii is one of the most famous archaeological sites in Italy and in the world. The ancient town, once a rich city and a tourist destination for many nobles of Roman society, never ceases to amaze visitors from all over the world thanks to its state of conservation and the many archaeological treasures it presents and the many that are brought to light every year.
A visit to the Pompeii excavations can only begin with the Forum; it once represented the heart of public life in the Roman city, hosting debates and events. Here you will also find the remains of the Temple of Apollo, whose statues were then transported to the Museum of Naples.
Initially rather small, during the second century BC it was expanded to increase its importance: in addition, shop roofs were added to protect citizens from the rain and several buildings were built.
House of the Faun
The House of the Faun, so called due to the statue of the dancing faun placed in the centre of one of its main areas, has remains that suggest a complex that once had to be of considerable size: composed of two large communicating areas, it was built with very modern construction techniques for the ancient era.
Among the most famous places within the archaeological park of Pompeii you will find several rooms, areas which communicate and have connections with the shops. Upon seeing this structure, scholars have advanced the hypothesis that it could be a sort of ancient "residence".
The Amphitheatre of Pompeii
The Amphitheatre of Pompeii is one of the most famous archaeological remains of the city and the oldest construction of this kind ever discovered, dating back to 80 BC.
The stairs were divided into three tiers and its special feature lies in the large pillars used to support the arena's roof: this meant that spectators were protected from both the blazing sun and the rain, making it possible to perform at any time of the year.
The Villa of the Mysteries
Exploring the excavations of Pompeii means discovering the Villa of the Mysteries, an ancient Roman house whose owner remains unknown, almost certainly a person of high-ranking: some have speculated that it could even have been Livia, the wife of Emperor Augustus.
The name Villa of the Mysteries derives from the special paintings that were discovered in a room of the house and whose meaning has not yet been understood. Some scholars have hypothesised that they may represent mysterious rites.
What to see in Herculaneum
Pompeii was not the only city buried by the eruption of 79 AD: the same befell the city of Herculaneum, which has an even more incredible state of preservation. Once a holiday resort for many patrician families, it houses two-storey domus complete with jewellery and furnishings.
The rediscovery of this city was accidental: the statues that decorated the theatre were found while a well was being dug in an area considered to be accessible.
The tour of Herculaneum is shorter than that of Pompeii and, lasting about 3 hours, it is also ideal for families with children who want to have an immersive experience in the Roman society of the past. Entering from the Corso Resina 187 entrance, you will immediately have access to the main archaeological sites such as the male baths, the Augustali Headquarters and Villa of the Papyri.
In addition to the remains, in Herculaneum you will also find the MAV, Virtual Archaeological Museum: an interactive tour, located at the main entrance of the site, to discover what Herculaneum really was like before the eruption.
Fridays in Herculaneum
The Fridays in Herculanum exhibition started again on 21st July. The exhibition will continue until the end of August: it involves evocative night routes with guided tours, enriched by artistic illuminations and theatrical performances.
Every year a special theme inspires the story in the archaeological excavations of Herculaneum: the one chosen for 2023 is food and nutrition.
The cultural face of Naples
Many include Naples, Pompeii and Herculaneum in the same holiday, given the short distance between the cities: from the capital of Campania just take the regional train to Salerno and get off at the Pompeii stop.
You can find many places of cultural interest in Naples: from the Royal Palace to the Museum and Royal Forest of Capodimonte, passing through the Complex of Santa Chiara and Castel Dell'Ovo.
One experience to do is to visit Underground Naples; it hides several treasures of great architectural value such as the Roman Theatre and the Bourbon Gallery. A journey 40 meters underground to relive both the oldest side of the city and that of the last century, with the impressive air raid shelters used in World War II.
UNAHOTELS Napoli is the perfect hotel for a holiday in Naples: thanks to its central location, it is ideal for exploring the city and its surroundings. From the alleys of the historic centre to the ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum, enjoy a cultural itinerary that will leave you breathless.