According to Greek mythology, Herculaneum was established by Hercules, for whom it is named. While Pompeii was buried in volcanic ash, Herculaneum was interred in mud when Mt. Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD. The mud hardened and preserved the site in nearly perfect condition.
After meeting your professionally-trained guide, on the tender pier in Sorrento, if you are in a group of 7 or less, you will board your transportation and drive up the narrow road from the pier up to the town of Sorrento, perched on the cliffs above. Groups of 8 or more will board a minibus to reach your larger vehicle parked above in Sorrento. From here you will follow the coast of the Bay of Naples to Pompeii. Once a major port, as well as a center of wealth and politics, the city was instantly buried beneath 30 feet of volcanic ash and cinder when Mt. Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD. This ancient site is perhaps the most famous archaic excavation in the world. At its peak, Pompeii was home to 20,000 people and it is believed that 2,000 of them perished instantly when volcanic ash poured down on the city, creating ghostly casts formed by bodies that were encased and incinerated in the hot ash. Walk along intact streets and inspect prominent mansions, private homes adorned with mosaic floors, brilliant frescoes and other works of art, all of which provide an impression of Roman life as it was 2,000 years ago.
In the afternoon, travel to Herculaneum. Founded in the 4th century B.C., it architecturally mirrors Naples' old city center. Smaller than Pompeii, Herculaneum's character is completely different. Because of an earthquake in 63 AD, many of the affluent inhabitants left before the eruption in the following decade. Therefore, Herculaneum has none of the eerie body casts found at Pompeii. Since it was buried in mud, the opulent homes were well preserved. The mosaic at Casa del Nettuno de Anfitrite, for example, still shows intense color. The deities adorning some of the private baths and fountains are so vivid, scenes from an ancient era spring to life. At the two-story House of the Deer, paintings and furnishings reveal wealth and opulent lifestyles. After your visit, you will return along the peninsula to Sorrento.
On your return to Sorrento, those guests wishing to end their tour above in the town of Sorrento may do so. They will then be responsible for getting down to the tender pier via either a taxi or walking.
Reviewer: Tim Moore
As this was our 4th visit to Pompeii we wanted to also see Herculaneum so decided to spend extra money and do this tour. And how glad we are we did. We were picked up promptly at the pier in a nice car with a great driver and our guide Mario. We can't say enough good things about Mario as he was not only educated as a classical archaeologist but also had done ""digs"" at these sites. The insights he gave us about the life in these cities made it all so much more real. He also knew how to avoid the crowds but still see the most important ruins. My husband and I will always remember this as one of the best tours we've done.
Reviewer: Tim Moore
This was our 4th time to visit Pompeii so this time we decided to do a private tour that included Herculaneum. We were picked up promptly at the pier in a car and introduced to our guide, Mario. Mario spoke excellent English and even more important was able to provide us a picture of how life was in these cities before they were devastated. Mario has his degree in Classical Archaeology and had done actual ""digs"" at these sites which allowed him to provide even mole insights and a way to see these sights up close by avoiding the crowds. And lunch was excellent Yes, it costs more but worth every extra dollar. My husband and I will never forget this tour.