So today we arranged to meet with Anna again, but this time at Herculaneum. We thought it would be straightforward to get there, as the map shows the site to be less than a 10 minutes drive. But here are some mysteries from the connected systems we use. When my phone is connected to the car with CarPlay, we only found the Archeological site and ended up in very narrow street at the other end of the site, but when Jackie searched directly from her iPhone there is an Archeological Park: that’s the one we needed to go to as visitors.
We finally arrived at the gate to meet with Anna 5 minutes late. When we got in, she started by setting the scene for us on the geographical, historical and social levels of what the city of Herculaneum was. She also explained why it was and still is so different from Pompeii.
The first thing we notice immediately is that this is clearly a dig, as it doesn’t really feels like it in Pompeii. As Anna explained to us, Pompeii was covered by ashes whereas Herculaneum has been covered by lava: it seems to be a small difference but the result after almost twenty centuries cannot be compared. Another big difference was the difference in social status of the inhabitants: at the time, Herculaneum was the town of the hyper wealthy people, sort of the Monaco of the Roman’s time. It was named after the great Hercules and there are many representations that pictures him in his tasks.
When the Vesusio erupted, the lava descended on the side of Herculaneum. Its extreme heat consumed everything flammable and were retrieved carbonized, just like the wooden part of a match, keeping their original shape. As it was the home of extremely wealthy people, real architectural wonders and jewelries were dug out and are kept as treasures. Some pieces are small but have incredibly tiny details that are so sharp, my technical side tried to imagine what kind of tools they may have used to manufacture them.
As I wrote in an earlier blog, visiting such a site with an experimented guide makes a whole world of a difference and we were really happy to have done it with a pearl such as Anna. If you’ve never done it, try it once and you’ll understand what we mean.
As we were so close to the Vesuvio, we wanted to climb it as high as possible (as far as the road could be driven). We stopped at the first restaurant as they had a stunning view of the gulf of Napoli.
That was a beginner’s mistake and the first time we had a very average meal.
We headed to our next stage of our journey towards the Sorrentine Peninsula. The number of vehicles is reduced by quite a lot after Castelammare di Stabia, but speed is slower due to the nature of the roads and its surrounding resorts, hotels and shops. The Agriturismo lodging we booked is quite remote but very comfortable. This time of the season is a bit late for the swimming pool, but the olive harvesting season is started and we can see the press at work.
Pino, the owner of the place, advises us to go to « a gooda restorante » not too far. On the way to La Torre, we got a gorgeous sunset view of Capri and Ischia.
And because life is hard, but fortunately we’re in Italy, we went to our fourth Michelin rated restaurant of this trip…