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For those who don't know, the ruins at Herculaneum are the lesser cousin of Pompeii. The town was a seaside resort for wealthy Romans until it was buried by the eruption of Vesuvius in the first century AD. We travelled to Herculaneum on the local railway, the Circumvesuviana. The walk from the station took about ten minutes – far enough on a hot day. The site itself is pretty exposed to the weather – worth bearing in mind if excessively wet or hot!

The main buildings are numbered but unfortunately the leaflets issued at the ticket office assume you are entering via a previously used main entrance. You are actually using a new entrance and the result is that you are working backwards through the leaflet. It is almost impossible to find each place in the order listed so you have to retrace your steps several times to see everything.

There is some information around the site, but only a limited amount in English. Nevertheless, it is well laid out and there are some very interesting items to view. It is remarkable how some original timbers have survived having been buried for so many centuries. Some of the best finds are now on display in the Archaeological Museum in Naples which is well worth a visit.

The problem with the site is the steadily deterioration of the fabric of the buildings and artefacts. Now they are exposed to the elements there is a big task in maintaining their integrity.

We spent several hours exploring the site and easily could have spent longer, but the heat made it very tiring. Add to that the walk back uphill to the railway station anyou have every reason to pace yourself!

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