Herculaneum (it: Ercolano) is a town close to Naples in Campania, Italy. It is named after the ruined Roman city which forms its main attraction. Herculaneum was destroyed by an eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in AD 79, the same eruption that destroyed Pompeii. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Ruins of Herculaneum in the foreground, modern Herculaneum (Ercolano) in the near background, Vesuvius in the distant background on the right
In many ways Herculaneum is arguably a more interesting place to visit than Pompeii. Surrounded by volcanic rock, its location gives you a far clearer idea of the magnitude of the volcanic eruption. While roofs in Pompeii collapsed under the weight of falling ash, only a few centimetres of ash fell on Herculaneum, causing little damage. Subsequently, there was a succession of six flows of boiling mud (a mixture of ash and gases) which then solidified. These gradually buried the city’s buildings from the bottom up, causing relatively little damage. The good state of preservation of the site is due to its rapid filling by these flows, which prevented the buildings from collapsing. The high temperature of the first flow carbonized wood in the buildings and extracted water from it. Restoration work is ongoing, and while a lot of the timbers have been replaced, there is still much of the original timberwork present, albeit badly charred. Finally, the volcanic rock, or tufo, that covered the site for 1700 years formed an airtight seal. As a consequence there are many well-preserved buildings, many with the upper stories still intact, and some excellent frescoes and mosaics on both walls and floors to be seen.
Herculaneum really gives you an idea of how ancient Romans lived. For the independent traveller there is an additional advantage over Pompeii. The congested streets around the excavations (it: scavi) mean that access for tour buses is impossible. Thus there are far fewer visitors to Herculaneum than Pompeii. You don’t have to fight your way past hordes of other tourists in order to get into the buildings and you can explore the ruins at leisure without being overwhelmed by tour groups. These excavations also cover a much smaller site than do those of Pompeii and thus seeing the whole site is much less exhausting.
Frequent buses run to and from Naples.
Street in Herculaneum
The Circumvesuviana trains take 25 minutes to get there from Naples and 40 minutes from Sorrento. To get to the ruins, get off at the Ercolano Scavi station, from where you exit into a small square. Exit diagonally right (the only way out of the square) and walk 8 blocks downhill to the big arch – the ticket office & baggage check are about a further 2 minutes’ walk though the arch (pick up bag 30 minutes before site closing).
Beware, there are two train stations in Ercolano. The Ercolano Scavi Circumvesuviana station is on the Sorrento-Naples line, but the trains on the Naples-Salerno stop at the Porticini/Ercolano station. The Herculaneum site is not signposted from the latter station.
Herculaneum is on the Autostrada from Naples to Salerno. There is a toll of €2 for using any part of this stretch of highway. Parking is not easy to find, particularly the type of parking you will want if your car is full of suitcases. Try the parking area behind the police station, just one block southeast of the entrance to the excavations. (€1 an hour in advance).
The terrace with the Marcus Nonius Balbus statue and altar
The section below provides a brief summary of what can be seen.
- The Ruins of Herculaneum (at the bottom of Via 4 Novembre, the main street of Ercolano). Open daily (except 1 Jan; 1 May and 25 Dec) April to October 8:30-7:30, November to March 8:30-5:00. Ticket office closes 90 minutes before site does.. You can pick up free map at entrance as well as a booklet describing the attractions, although versions other than Italian are often out of print. Audioguides cost €6.50, €10 for two, ID required, turn in 30 minutes before closing. Toilet facilities are to the left of the audioguide kiosk. There is nowhere to buy refreshments so make sure you have water with you. You will need around 2 hours at a calm pace if you want to visit everything. Admission is €11. If you are also planning to visit Pompeii you can buy a five-site ticket for €20, so saving €2 on the admission for the two sites. The combined ticket is valid for three days and also includes the sites of Oplontis, Stabia and Boscoreale. Only one admission per site is allowed. EU citizens under 18 and over 65 are admitted free of charge. If you are planning to be in the region for some time then it may be advantageous to buy a Campania Art Card, which gives access to many museums and other sites for €30. http://www.artecard.it.
Mosaic of Neptune and Amphitrite
At the ruins, be sure to see:
- Baths (Terme del Foro). Both the male and female baths, which are next to each other, are well preserved. They were fed by a large well, which brought water from a depth of 8.25m, heated by a large furnace and distributed around the baths by a network of pipes that also served to provide central heating.
- House of Neptune and Amphitrite (Casa di Nettuno ed Anfitrite). Worth the visit for its stunning mosaics alone, particularly that of Neptune and Amphitrite (a sea goddess and wife of Poseidon), after which the house is named.
- 3 Gymnasium. This large complex extends over much of the southeast side of the excavations and is on your right as you walk down to the ticket office.
- Villa of the Papyri. The coastline was significantly altered by the eruption but this large and luxurious villa originally stretched down to the sea in four terraces. Its sea front was about 250m long. It is below you on your right as you leave the ticket office and head towards the audio guide kiosk. The villa contained a fine library of scrolls and, although these were badly carbonized, there is hope that modern technology will soon make it possible to read them without destroying them by opening them.
House of the Relief of Telephus
- House of the Deer. This was another luxurious waterfront dwelling.
- Samnite House. This is one of the oldest properties so far discovered on the site. Excavations suggest that, at various times, the upper floor was rented out and the courtyard was sold off. What remains now is a large roofed and elegantly decorated atrium with a few small rooms around it.
- 6 House of the Beautiful Courtyard (Casa del Bel Cortile). The attractive courtyard is said to resemble an Italian medieval courtyard more than a Roman building. In a display case there are two skeletons fused with volcanic rock.
- 7 College of the Augustales. The Augustales were an order of Roman priests responsible for attending to the maintenance of the cult of Augustus, who was considered the first emperor of the Roman Empire. The building consists of one large, well-decorated roofed room.
- 8 MAV (Museo Archeologico Virtuale), Via 4 Novembre 44 (200m up the hill from the entrance to the excavations: on the left.), ✉ email@example.com. 09.00-17.30 Tues-Sun. An enjoyable interactive museum that recreates life as it was in Herculaneum and Pompeii before the eruption. Great fun for kids, although some parents may not appreciate the virtual visit to one of Pompeii’s brothels! Buildings are reconstructed before your eyes at a wave of your hand; you can brush ash off a fresco; make a virtual pool of water over a mosaic ripple; see 3-D images of jewelry found at the sites; walk next to marching legionaries; learn of the lifestyle of the Roman times at an interactive table, and visit public baths and the brothel! €7.50 (reduced €6.00).
- 9 Villa Campolieto. A beautiful 18th Century villa overlooking the shore. It is open for visitors on weekends only.
What to do in Herculaneum
A domestic altar
Don’t be afraid to wander around. There’s still a lot of character to the ruins from the city it once was, and you never know what you’ll find.
PompeiIn firstname.lastname@example.org +39 3284134719 offers itineraries at the ancient Herculaneum lasting minimum 2 hours and covering all the highlights of the city such as Northern Cardo (road oriented north-south), the House of the Skeleton,Thermopolium (restaurant food), Men’s Thermal Bath, Temple of Augustali, Forum (main square), House of the Black Saloon, House of Neptune and Amphitrite, House of Bel Cortile, the Samnite House, the House of the Wooden Partition, the Bakery, the Gym, the Home of the Bucks, the Marina gate, terrace of Marcus Nonius Balbus and the beach. The guides are locals, are licensed, and have degrees in archaeology; they are able to provide tours for kids and disabled people, and with their vast knowledge of ancient history and society are capable of making the ancient Herculaneum come to life.
The ticket office to the site also has an excellent book shop offering a wide range of guides and maps.
Note: if you also plan to visit Pompeii buy the multi-site ticket – it is marginally cheaper that way. Also EU citizens under 24 or over 60 can get reduced admission if they can prove their age – so take your passport.
There are cake and pizza shops lining the street from the train station to the site.
Take your own food to the site, there’s only one vending machine, and that’s mostly for drinks.
Painted advertisement and price list for Ad Cucumas wine shop
In ancient Herculaneum, you could buy wine at Ad Cucumas. Nowadays, you are best off bringing water with you, and make sure you take your empty bottles with you when you leave the excavations.
Where to stay in Herculaneum
Herculaneum’s excavations and the MAV museum can easily be seen in a leisurely day. Most visitors stay in Naples or Pompeii, or even take a day trip from further afield. The town of Herculaneum has few attractions that would justify an overnight stay.
- Hotel Punta Quattro Venti, Via Marittima, 59 80059 Ercolano.
- Migliodoro Park Hotel Ercolano, Corso Resina 296. 4-star hotel, the result of the restoration of Villa Aprile just 40 m from the archaeological digs of Herculaneum.
The excavations of Herculaneum are in an area of some economic deprivation, so watch your belongings!
- Take the Circumvesuviana commuter train to any of the following destinations:
- The grand city of Naples
- The nearby (simultaneously destroyed) Roman town of Pompeii
- The Vesuvius Natural Reserve, buses leave from the Circumvesuviana station
- The ruined Villae at Oplontis and Sora
- The lovely town of Sorrento. From there you can take boats to Capri (also from Naples), and go to the stunning Amalfi Coast
Already eleven Corona Infections at the Pope’s Swiss Guard
In the Vatican, seven other members of the pope’s Swiss Guard tested positive for the corona virus . This increased the number of demonstrably infected guardsmen to eleven, as the Swiss Guard announced on Thursday. All infected people had been isolated, the message said. The brightly uniformed guards protect Pope Francis and his residence.
A major corona outbreak among the guards could therefore also be dangerous for the Pope, 83 years of age belongs to the risk group. The Argentinean pope had part of his right lung removed at the age of 21 due to severe pneumonia but he is considered relatively healthy for his age.
The Catholic media platform “Vatican News” reported in early October that the guardsmen had been asked to “be careful when dealing with the Pope” because of Corona. Face mask and social distancing are required, however a young man who was interviewed about his recruit swearing in (October 4th) said that Francis had already shaken his hand.
Corona measures in Italy – Italy reacts to the 2nd Wave of Covid-19
Italy introduced a nationwide facemask requirement in the open due to the increase in new infections. If you don’t wear a mask when leaving your apartment, you risk a fine of up to one thousand euros, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte recently announced. You do not need to wear a face mask when you are doing sport. The regulations do not apply in private rooms or in places where only one family is staying. Children under six years of age are also exempt from this obligation.
In view of the rising numbers, Italy’s Minister of Health Roberto Speranza also ordered mandatory tests for travelers from Great Britain, Belgium, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic.
Another measure taken by the government shows how deep the shock of the first wave of more than 30,000 deaths still sits: It passed a law that prohibits the Italian regions from adopting measures that are less restrictive than those taken by Rome. However, you have the option of setting even stricter rules. Some regions, such as Lazio and Campania, had already decided that the public must wear a facemask.
Lombardy Coronavirus Covid-19 Outbreak – Cases Quarantine Deaths Stats to Italy
Lombardy or Lombardia is a northern region of Italy, and with 10 million people is the most populous one. Producing 1/5th of Italy’s GDP, it is also the mightiest economically. Geographically, Lombardy encompasses both Alps and Prealps in the north, and relatively flat plains in the south along the river Po and its tributaries. Between them there are many scenic lakes, and the alpine backdrop makes even the low-lying cities picturesque and the air rather fresh.
[wppress-covid19 display=”card” country=”Italy, Lombardia” custom_title=”no” custom_title_text=”Covid-19 in Italy, Lombardy” card_animate_number=”yes” show_pie_chart=”no” show_daily_change=”yes” show_confirmed=”yes” show_deaths=”yes” show_recovered=”yes” show_active=”yes” confirmed_legend=”Confirmed” deaths_legend=”Deaths” recovered_legend=”Recovered” active_legend=”Active” padding=”30px 20px” border_radius=”5″ background_color=”#FFFFFF” title_color=”#333333″ confirmed_color=”#5082c7″ deaths_color=”#d04b5a” recovered_color=”#4caf50″ active_color=”#e38b4f” title_font_size=”16″ stats_font_size=”14″ legend_font_size=”14″ /]Browse down for full details of the current Coronavirus situation in Lombardy
Lombardy is heavily industrialized, although most of the industry is actually not heavy, but rather mid-sized specialized machinery-building and other assembly and engineering firms, as well as consumer industries such as foodstuffs and apparel. The regional capital, Milan, is Italy’s second-largest city and the foremost centre of commerce and a global fashion capital. Smaller cities also have considerable economic might, and have had so for many centuries, hence Lombardy is the region of Italy with the most UNESCO World Heritage List sites – and simply, a lot of history and scenic views to explore and enjoy.
- Lombardian Alps and Prealps (provinces of Bergamo, Brescia and Sondrio)
- Lake Como (provinces of Como and Lecco)
- Southern Lombardy (provinces of Cremona, Lodi, Mantova and Pavia)
- Grande Milano (provinces of Milan and Monza and Brianza)
- Milan (Milano, the capital of the province) – shares with Paris the title of fashion capital of the world, and is Italy’s second city.
- Bergamo – a fairytale pastel-coloured city perched atop a hillside, and the gate to Bergamo Alps
- Brescia – a major industrial powerhouse since the Ancient Roman times, and a UNESCO World Heritage List
- Como – the city that gave the name to the popular lake
- Cremona – home of Stradivarius violins, but also a wealth of ornate romanesque architecture
- Lecco – a little and charming city situated on Como’s lake.
- Mantua (Italian: Mantova) – the Ducal Palace has a cycle of frescoes by Mantegna that no art lover should miss.
- Sondrio – the northernmost provincial capital situated amidst alpine mountain ranges
- Varese – capital of the namesake province full of lakeside resorts, just 30 minutes from Malpensa airport
- The magnificent lakes of Lake Como – take boat trips in the shadow of the Alps to the picturesque villages of Bellagio, Varenna and Tremezzo – Lake Maggiore, Lake Garda and Lake Lugano.
- The tiny village of Erbusco, home of the award-winning wines of Franciacorta and L’Albereta, the country inn of Gualtiero Marchesi, one of Italy’s premier chefs
- The peninsula of Sirmione, on the south shore of Lake Garda
- The Caves of Catullo, an archaeological site of a former Roman villa situated on the tip of the Sirmione peninsula
- The Sirmione Spa, the largest privately owned thermal treatment centre in Italy
- Val Camonica : UNESCO heritage site, medieval towns, castles, holy art in churches, roman sanctuary and theatre/amphitheatre, ski sports.
- Oltrepò Pavese : Wine region in the utmost southern part of Lombardy, 70km from Milan, part of the Pavia province, medieval towns, castles, stunning views.
The Longobardis occupied the Peninsula in the 6th century, and the territory has been named after them ever since.
Lombardy is a prosperous region with fertile soil and a temperate climate. As in Piedmont, the Po Valley is the site of much heavy industry. High mountains in the north, marking Italy’s frontier with Switzerland, provide excellent skiing and climbing.
Three of Italy’s four busiest airports are in Lombardy:
- Milan Malpensa Airport is an intercontinental airport, and Italy’s second aviation hub after Rome Fiumicino. It has multiple direct connections to Africa, Asia and North America, as well as across Europe, where it is served by both full-service and low-fare carriers.
- Milano Linate is Milan’s city airport, served by business-oriented flights to European major commercial centres, as well as a dense Italian domestic network.
- Bergamo Orio al Serio Airport is served almost exclusively by low-fare carriers, taking advantage of its proximity to both Milan and the Alps.
Despite only Linate being in the city and province of Milan, all three airports are marketed as serving the city. One can easily get to other destinations in the province from them, without necessarily changing in Milan. There is also a small airport in Brescia, which in recent years has seen next to no scheduled traffic.
Travel by train to Lombardy
Road and train links connect the region with Switzerland. As Switzerland is not part of the EU, there is a possibility that you will be delayed by checks at the border, although these are infrequent and usually not rigorous. Remember your passport.
There is a relatively dense railway network connecting cities and towns in Lombardy, although the layout is intricate and getting from one place to another may not be straightforward. You should be able to reach your destination within 1 or 2 hours by train. Otherwise, buses and minibuses link important destinations, especially those popular with tourists. Hubs are usually in regional centres, as well as near major railway stations and airports; you can try to change there if there are no direct connections. Regional train network is entirely managed by Trenord.
Regione Lombardia offers a good travel planner that lets you query the whole public transportation system.
If you plan to travel a lot, it might be worth buying a io viaggio ovunque in Lombardia pass ticket. Those tickets let you travel without limit on the entire public transport system in Lombardy, including regional trains, buses and city public transportation systems, but excluding some ferry boat lines. Although expensive, they can easily be a cheaper option than regular tickets if you travel long distances. Passes are sold at railway stations (at ticket box or automatic vending machines) and at ATM automatic vending machines. You can buy 1, 2, 3 or 7 day passes (16€, 27€, 32.5€, 43€ respectively – February 2020).
The railway company Trenord offers some good travel packages, under the Trenord Free Time name. The package usually includes a ticket to an attraction or a trip proposal and a train ticket to get to the destination. Most of them are really useful only if you depart from Milan. It’s worth to take a look at the offers as they can also suggest you some new or lesser known itinerary that you may like.
As the Autostrada A4 runs across Lombardy, with the road system radiating from its junctions, you can get around by car as well. The A4 frequently gets congested though and traffic jams can be long and excruciating, especially around Milan. Be aware that Italians drive fast and make no allowances for foreigners, so be sure you are OK with keeping up with the traffic and occasional displays of impatience from other drivers.
Milan, Bergamo and Brescia have efficient and extensive public transportation systems.
What to see in
- Milan Fashion Weeks draw crowds of fashionistas to Milan every year.
- La Scala in Milan is a mecca for opera aficionados.
- You can enjoy water sports or more relaxed boating on the lakes.
- The Alps offer opportunities for hiking or skiing.
Lombardy’s most famous culinary inventions are minestrone soup and osso buco (literally “ox knuckles”). To the west of Milan lie miles of rice fields, where the rice for risotto alla milanese is grown. Other typical dishes of the area include salumi (cold cuts) and polenta.
As in many other areas of Northern Italy, the aperitivo (pre-meal drink with appetisers, for which a small supplement might be charged) is very popular.
The wineries in Franciacorta, around Erbusco, produce many excellent wines. The region has been elevated to the status of DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita). Other remarkable zones for wine are Oltrepò Pavese (which is the zone around Pavia on the south banks of Po river) and the countrysides around Garda Lake.
Valtellina also produces excellent wines, famous for their strong taste and flavour.
As every big city in the world, Milan has also many high quality restaurants, wine bars and Enoteche (wine store) where you can find high class wines from all over the world.
Where to stay in Lombardy
Large cities, like Milan, Bergamo or Brescia, are important business centres, so they have sizeable bases of business-oriented hotels. They are local hubs with connections to destinations within their provinces, and getting between them is also reasonably quick via a variety of means of transportation (trains, express buses or cars across the A4). Do note that accommodation in Milan is generally expensive, and prices skyrocket during major events or fairs, such as the Milan Fashion Week.
Destinations along the lines of the lakes, as well as those in the Alps, are popular with tourists, so you will find a variety of accommodation options there, from luxurious resort hotels to simple B&Bs.
While Milan features many of the usual tourist traps and con acts, as well as sizeable number of pickpockets due to the number of tourists there, other destinations are generally safe, and you can feel secure and welcome there. Do note, however, that in case you need to contact the police they can have very limited English skills and also may not be able to help foreigners much.
To the east is Trentino-Alto Adige and Veneto, to the south is Emilia-Romagna and Piedmont is to the south and west. Switzerland lies to the north.
Current Covid-19 Infections in Italy, Lombardy
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Timeline of Covid-19 Infections in Italy, Lombardy
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