A final jaunt round the Circumvesuviana this morning to the town of Ercolano or, as it is better known, Herculaneum.
Having done Pompeii a couple of days ago we toyed with whether to bother with doing the lesser known brother too but I am glad that we did. What attracted us there was that it was supposed to be quieter (✓), better preserved (✓) and that the frescos and mosaics were finer (✓).
Herculaneum was a smaller but richer town than Pompeii which is why the mosaics and frescos are of a higher quality but none of that would matter if it had been destroyed in the same was as Pompeii.
Due to wind direction and position Herculaneum wasn’t flattened in the initial eruption which meant that the people living there had advanced warning and time to make their escape. Also the type of covering Herculaneum received preserved things differently including organic matter which meant roofs were saved, for example. All this meant that some beautiful work, such as that above, was available to be seen.
I think that we were extraordinarily lucky to be given free reign to walk through the rooms and across some beautiful mosaics. I always try to be sensitive to things that are a couple of thousand years old but others not so much it seems. In one house we had to be reminded not to sit on a wall as others doing so had led to it to start to collapse. And in another area was a sign explaining that there was damage on the wall due to people rubbing their backpacks against the frescos when passing through. Thick 2000 year old plaster meets thick 21st century visitor.
People with backpacks can be extraordinarily selfish. They forget that this hump on their back makes them twice the depth they normally are. When in confined spaces, the packed carriage of a train for example, they will swing backwards and forwards knocking whatever is behind them (i.e. me). I have taken to pointing this out to the selfish buggers using the international sign language of pointing getting them to take it off and stick it on the floor.
I’ve digressed but basically Herculaneum is beautiful and people are stupid.
Having smugly written about our mastery of the local public transport system I feel that I should therefore highlight how we mightily cocked it up today.
When travelling to Herculaneum from Sorrento there is only one line and you cannot go wrong. When travelling from Herculaneum to Sorrento it would be wrong to assume that the train you are travelling on is on the same line as the morning. It wasn’t and we only realised four stops too late.
This led to us witnessing two arguments. The first was between Helen and I which I shall gloss over and we’ll all just agree that it was Helen’s fault 😉 The second was between two blokes on the platform being held very loudly in Italian so therefore I know not what it was about. I do know that there was an awful lot of posturing, a lot of shouting and not very much physical stuff. Oh and one of the guys jumped onto the tracks (he was quite safe as the trains are very slow and infrequent here) and picked up a rock with which to threaten the other guy. This would all have been very amusing if we weren’t busy brooding about the extra hour and a half we had managed to add to our journey.
So that’s our holiday done for another year and it’s time to start planning our next years trip!
Tomorrow, Bristol and home.