We all know about Pompei and the aftermath of the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD, but 'Ercolano'. Herculaneum, is in some way more interesting that its famous cousin.
Noble Villas of Herculaneum
Founded in the 4th century b.c. the city was submerged not by ashes but by a torrent of mud which left it better preserved. Written accounts seem to suggest Herculaneum was a more peaceful town than Pompei and a fifth of its size.
Sitting above the bay of Naples the town was home for four to five thousand people mostly devoted to fishing and the Roman navy.
Modern day Ercolano is an elegant place with many villas used as conference centers and cultural events.
Do visit Herculaneum during July when the annual 'Festival delle Ville Vesuviane' is held, a series of spectacular events in the historical villas of the town and immediate area.
The 'Ente per le Ville Vesuviane' is the body with the responsibility of preserving the 18th century architectural patrimony and period furniture (121 to be precise) of the Comuni di Napoli, San Giorgio a Cremano, Portici, Ercolano and Torre del Greco.
Villa Campolieto, Villa Ruggiero and Villa Favorita are the stunning villas in Ercolano.
Villa Capolieto took six years to restore and was opened to the public in 1984. Today, it is the location for open air concerts as part of the 'Festival delle Ville Vesuviane' mentioned above.
It was built for Prince Luzio of Sangro in 1755 and saw off three architects before being completed by the son of Lugi Vanvitelli, Carlo.
Villa Petti Ruggiero is located on the very lower slopes of Vesuvius, away from the sea, and has a different sort of elegance from the coastal residences.
Villa Favorita was so-called by Bourbon King Charles in homage to Queen Maria Carolina of Austria and boasts the lush Parco sul Mare.
see also How to visit Pompeii and Herculaneum
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