Oct. 20th: Oplontis, Herculaneum, Mt. Vesuvius

Hello wonderful blog readers!

The first half of our second road trip ended today, but rather than being uneventful it was still packed with excitement. We awoke early and had our customary delicious hotel breakfast and then headed to the train station to go to the Villa of Oplontis. This ancient villa is located in the modern city of Torre Annunziata and honestly is the only reason one should ever step foot in that city.

At the Villa itself, we were treated to a wonderful presentation by Aaron in which we were taken from room to room while he discussed the layout and decoration of the Villa. This Villa may have been owned by Poppea, the second wife of Nero, and contains great examples of second and third style wall paintings. The Villa was enormous – in fact it even had its own bath complex and swimming pool!

After touring the Villa, we headed back to the train station to buy our tickets for Herculaneum. However, upon our arrival, we discovered that the ticket office was closed and the bar across the street only had one ticket left … and no food. Although the idea was tossed around of us just hopping on the train without 14 tickets (Italian public transportation officers never actually ask for your ticket anyway), we decided that we weren't willing to pay the fine if today was the day they decided actually to check for tickets. Therefore, it looked liked we were stuck in Torre Annunziata with Professor Ulrich until our fearless TA Katelyn could make it to Pompeii to buy the rest of our tickets and return. In her absence, a series of bizarre occurrences happened including us running into Umberto, the guard who brought us into all the awesome places in Pompeii earlier this week. Finally, much to our relief, Katelyn returned with discounted tickets and a story of her own to tell.

Our next stop of the day was Herculaneum. This site is different than Pompeii because rather than being covered in ash it was covered in hot mud. As a result, more has been preserved in terms of second stories of buildings, wooden structures, etc in Herculaneum than in Pompeii. We spent about 2 hours exploring the site including many houses, a bath complex, and the main road of the city. However, because the site was covered in hot mud it has been much more difficult to excavate and much of the city has yet to be uncovered.

As our formal lecture was coming to an end, a group of us discovered that the last bus to the top of Mt. Vesuvius was leaving at 3. Upon hearing the news, we immediately sprinted through the entire site of Herculaneum (while getting some weird looks from passing tourists) and uphill to the pick-up point. After a very long and windy thirty minutes, we were dropped off about three quarters of the way up the mountain and then had to hike to the crater. We reached the top after about a thirty minute climb uphill and were not disappointed. The views were incredible both of the surrounding area and of the volcano and crater. The only sign that Vesuvius is still an active volcano was the billows of steam and smoke rising from the crater in front of us. As to be expected we took a multitude of pictures and even brought back a few souvenirs.

Back in Pompeii, we enjoyed another delicious meal at the hotel followed by us all heading to bed early after a very eventful day and week. We are excited to have a free day tomorrow and then we're off to Turkey!

Until next time,

Elizabeth/Liz

 

Photos alla Kathleen:

Welcome to the Villa of Poppea. Watch your step.

Aaron Pellowski: FSP expert on the Villa at Oplontis

 

Engaged columns! woot woot!

Bird with fruit. So cute.

Name that opus!

At this point in the trip, we are all becoming wall painting experts.

The site of Herculaneum!
What happens when hot mud surges into a bath building? The hypocaust floor system collapses!
Second storey? On an ancient house? Inconceivable.

Mosaics! Yeah!

Hike to the summit of the volcano.

The Vesuvius crew.

 

 

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