FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.
Sharon McDonnell
Feature
Jun 1, 2016

Explore Pompeii and Herculaneum, the Best-Preserved Classical Cities

From Naples, Italy, visitors can easily reach the two best-preserved cities in the classical world, Pompeii and Herculaneum, destroyed by Mount Vesuvius in the year 79. Just ride the Circumvesuviana train line, next to bored-looking commuters going to the modern towns of Ercolano and Pompei. It’s startling to see a train stop marked Pompeii-Villa dei Misteri, named for the spectacular frescoes in the House of Mysteries depicting initiation into the cult of Dionysus (Bacchus), the god of wine and debauchery, in vivid Pompeiian reds. Herculaneum, closer to Naples (only eight miles away), is smaller and more compact but better preserved: The eruption covered it with mud, not volcanic ash, so even wood beams and furnishings survived. Experience “virtual” recreations of the town pre- and post-eruption, and even a simulated eruption complete with shaking floors, at its MAV Museum (Museo Archeologica Virtuale). Pompeii was once a resort town of 10,000–20,000 people, filled with aristocratic villas, baths, brothels and the oldest surviving Roman amphitheater. You’ll find hotels and restaurants in both towns near the archaeological sites. The finest ruins of both towns now reside in Naples’ Museo Archeologico Nazionale, but seeing both the museum and the sites themselves provides a fuller experience.

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