Although you might have heard of Pompeii, have you heard of Herculaneum? If not, and you are planning a visit to this part of Italy, I definitely recommend that you include it in your itinerary! I found it even more fascinating than our visit to Pompeii on Tuesday. Herculaneum is much smaller than Pompeii (it is in the heart of a built up residential area below ground level and could easily be missed until you’re almost right on top of it!) but is much better preserved with some original wooden structures, iron gratings in windows and many brightly coloured paintings and mosaics. There are also many more buildings with a surviving second floor so you can have a much better impression of walking down a typical Roman street.
What was particularly striking was that Herculaneum had been next to the sea before the eruption (the cooling lava changed the coastline so that today the sea is further out) and it is possible to see skeletons huddled together in the boathouses where they were waiting for evacuation. I found that this had much more emotional impact than the plaster-casts of the bodies in Pompeii and really reminded us of the human cost of the disaster.
After a pizza lunch, we headed back to Sorrento for an ice-cream making demonstration. This was great fun and the owner of the shop, Maria Teresa, was very animated and entertaining. We also got to try a lemon sorbet and a Nutella ice-cream during the demonstration before having a third ice-cream (2 flavours of our choice, also included) in the shop at the end.
The group then had some free time for shopping in Sorrento and when it was time to get back on the coach, we compared our purchases. Along with the usual tourist items (local football shirts, painted thimbles and nic-nacs), there were some more unusual gems including an old-style circular dial telephone!
After a dip in the hotel pool, we settled down for our evening meal and an early night.
Tomorrow is our last day of a fantastic week in Italy and we’ve got a pizza-making workshop, Amalfi drive, and an optional boat trip to look forward to before the flight home.