Monday, April 22, 2019

Ruined City of Herculaneum


In 79 AD, Mount Vesuvius destroyed this ancient Roman city, covering it in ash and mud at the same time Pompeii was destroyed.

"While roofs in Pompei collapsed under the weight of falling ash, only a few centimetres of ash fell on Herculaneum, causing little damage. Subsequently, there was a succession of six pyroclastic flows (a mixture of ash and gases) which then solidified. These gradually buried the city's buildings from the bottom up, causing relatively little damage. "


At first we planned to go to the famous Pompeii, but we learned that this site is quite crowded to visit. Also, it's very large and so the walking involved is extensive. However, Herculaneum is a smaller city and more well preserved than Pompeii. Also, you are allowed more  freedom to move around inside the ruins and get more close up.

If you want, you can visit both, as they are not far from each other.

Check out our 360 video walk through for a preview of what you'll see.

Take the Circumsuviana train from either Serrento or Naples. The cost is 2.20 euros.
Travel Time:
From Naples 25 min
From Serrento 40 Min.
When you exit the train you'll enter a square. Avoid the expensive taxis and buses because it's a 5 minute walk to the ruins. Exit diagonally to your right, and walk downhill 8 blocks towards the sea (don't take a taxi or bus, expensive).

Entrance to Herculaneum is 13 Euros each for adults (all the websites said 11 so maybe they recently raised their prices).
Children under 18 can get a reduced admission, but over 65 no longer does.

Be aware that both Herculaneum and Pompeii have a policy against allowing backpacks in. It has been said that they have no lockers on the site. The lockers at the train station may cost as much as 8 euros. I didn't see them enforcing this at Herculaneum, but maybe don't take the risk. The rules say no bags larger than: 30 x 30 x 15 cm.


Wikitravel has a great list of places to visit inside, by name with descriptions.

A very extensive site with details about the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, maps, photographs of the sites and descriptions found in manuscripts of the time about the eruption. Very interesting.

This article mentions a book called "A Museum of Antiquity," written in 1882, which tells about the city and the names of people in the houses. Might make an interesting read before going.


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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Castles of San Marino

It was a quick walk from our hostel back to the train station where we could catch the bus to San Marino. We asks a couple of girls waiting for the bus where to get tickets and they pointed out the “Tobaccheria” (tobacco shop). Tickets are €5 and your u wait on the side of the street that you buy tickets on.
There are many statues.

An archery field.

Streets of San Marino

The ride is very scenic and it doesn’t matter which side of the bus you sit on, as there are steep switchbacks leading up the mountain to San Marino, which is basically a big fortress on a hill, but it is also its own country. Which sounds like a great deal in the world today.

According to Wikipedia "The country derives its name literally from Saint Marinus, a stonemason originating from the Roman colony on the island of Rab, in modern-day Croatia. In AD 257, Marinus, according to legend, participated in the reconstruction of Rimini's city walls after their destruction by Liburnian pirates. Marinus then went on to found an independent monastic community on Monte Titano in AD 301; thus, San Marino lays claim to be the oldest extant sovereign state as well as the oldest constitutional republic."

San Marino has about 33,300 people, and they were one of the first former socialist states to join the European Union. They gained their independence in 1991.

Basically the whole country consists of a mountain and some of the land around it. Beautiful green farmland and trees, and nothing is more idyllic than this place as you look down on the countryside from the top of the old castle, where you can see for miles! I also imagined I could see the line where San Marino's pastures end and Italy, with its busier and blander buildings, begins.

I don’t think there is a bad view in the whole country. The streets are clean, and paved with cobblestones and filled with attractive shops and friendly people. From almost every street in the city, you can see a castle tower or stone fortress wall jutting out.

In fact, there are two castles in town, and a tower. The cost is €4.50 for each castle/museum or pay €6.50 for a duo castle ticket. (The third tower is closed).

The First Tower (Rocca)

Neither of the castles are large, but both command a fantastic view of everything for maybe 50 miles. The first one had a high tower, which you get to climb to the top of. You can walk around and take pictures of the view from every side (and each photo will be postcard perfect).

There is also an old prison area, with a few displays. There is what looks like a small chapel, and a few walkways out to another great view, from which you can see the second castle.

The Second Tower (Cesta)

This castle may be smaller, more of a large tower, but it had a fairly impressive collection of items on display: many swords, glaives, halberds, knives, maces, old pistols, rifles, and huge tower rifles. Also armor, bows, crossbows, maybe a ballista, cannons. Some of the large rifles (mounted) where dated 1420 and 1460, or later.

Looking back at the 1st Tower

If you like medieval weapons, you won’t want to miss this display. You exit at the top for yet another spectacular view.

Part of the 2nd Tower

Looking back at the First Tower


This tower is closed, but you can still walk to it. We only went part way.

The 3rd Tower (closed)