Our last day trip of the holiday was to the ruins of Herculaneum, or Ercolano Scavi, as the Italians call it. The site is only about 45 minutes from our house and well worth the drive and the entry fees! We haven't yet seen Pompeii, but we chose to explore Ercolano first, having heard that the ruins are actually better preserved and more contained, therefore easier to do in a shorter amount of time. With 6 kids to keep happy, we figured this would be the better choice!
Herculaneum was a resort for wealthy Romans before it was buried in the eruption from Mt. Vesuvius. Digs began in 1738, and work continues even now. The dynamics of the city's burial led to amazing preservation, providing organic artifacts (including plants, fabrics, furniture, even a loaf of bread!) as well as upper floors of buildings.
We explored nearly every part of the city that is estimated to have been home to about 4,000 people. There were some items of interest that weren't open for viewing, possibly because of the time of year. At any rate, we'd definitely go back sometime to explore more!
Overall, everyone gave the trip two thumbs up! The weather was so beautiful--sunny and not too cold. We enjoyed a picnic lunch on the grounds and then walked to the museum, which has digital and virtual displays allowing you to see and experience what the area looked like before the disaster happened. It was also worthwhile (although we did hurry the children past the hall describing brothels of the time!).