All the vitality of Pompeii, the affluent little Roman town in the Bay of Naples, was snuffed out one August afternoon in 79 AD when Mount Vesuvius erupted with catastrophic violence and buried it beneath volcanic ash. It lay hidden and largely forgotten until its rediscovery in the mid-18th Century and has slowly revealed its secrets in the 250 years since then.
Surface of a roman road in Herculaneum, which was buried by the eruption of mount Vesuvius 79 AD (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The sheer scale of the site – probably a mile from end to end – makes a professional tour guide essential. It also helps to be reasonably fit as there is plenty of walking, often in heat and humidity, and frequently over rough terrain. You can also visit Vesuvius, Herculaneum and Pozzuoli, which has the 40,000-seater Puteoli amphitheatre – one of the best preserved in the world. In Naples, the spectacular National Archaeological Museum houses beautiful statues collected from the sites. Equally fascinating are the contents of the gabinetto segreto which houses the erotica of ancient times.