The availability of buildings open to the public changes continuously, the following is just an example of a possible itinerary.
Herculaneum is not as big as Pompeii, it can be visited thoroughly in about 2 hrs.
The first approach is spectacular: all of the ancient towns lying at the bottom of an archaeological hollow about 60 feet deep. From the top, you can see the entire excavated area at once, dominated by the impressive bulk of Mt. Vesuvius in the background: a stunning view and a great photo opportunity!
At the very bottom lays the marina, where about 300 human skeletons were found together with a fossilized boat and some fishing tools.
Crossing a modern bridge, we will start to discover the garden of the “House of the Albergo”, where quince trees were replanted following the evidence of carbonized roots of these ancient fruit trees.
Our next stop is the Council Hall of the Augustali, where you can admire beautifully preserved frescoes depicting Hercules.
You will visit the House of Neptune and Amphitrite, to see the wonderful mosaics decorating the outdoor ‘biclinium’ (dining room); this was probably the house of a merchant, in fact, next door you have a store with its counter, containers for food and wine and the wooden shelves carbonized still hanging on the walls!
Then you will discover the Bath House (an ancient Spa), still covered with mosaics. It will introduce you to the world or Roman Daily Care and social life: a gym, a changing room, a tepid room, a hot room and at last a cold tub.
Nearby the Grande Palestra – large outdoor Gym – a glorious public sporting place to see. It still lays buried for about 3 quarters, but we can move into the cross-shaped pool to feel like an ancient archaeologist moving under the volcanic couch.
And of course not to be missed is at least one of the nearly intact private houses, according to availability, where to admire luxurious mosaics, frescoes, and statues.
We contacted Leisure Italy about 10 days prior to getting to Naples hoping to find a better option than the ship’s excursions. Leisure Italy did not disappoint. We booked a private tour of Herculaneum with a follow on stop at a Cameo Shop, including guide and driver for a very reasonable price. Our guide Lavinia was outstanding, charming, knowledgeable, and excellent English. With her help, the ancient city seemed to come to life before your eyes. She timed our arrival at the cameo shop so that we avoided the five tour buses that stopped earlier and we had the entire shop to ourselves. Can’t say enough good about her. Our driver Alfonso got us to both stops quickly and safely and his English is flawless. Avoid the crowds and save some money–book Leisure Italy.