It boasts an enchanting position at the centre of the Gulf of Naples and enjoys particular importance due to its priceless heritage within the archaeological excavations of ancient Herculaneum, which was destroyed by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD.
A visit to "Ercolano", in the Province of Naples, cannot overlook the archaeological excavations. They owe their fortune to the way in which the city was buried: submerged by a river of volcanic mud which solidified to determine an absolutely original preservation phenomenon which differs completely from what happened in Pompeii. For this reason, organic finds have been preserved to present day (burnt grain and vegetables, fabric, furniture and parts of wooden buildings), as well as the upper floors of buildings which brought with them a precise idea of the volumes and techniques used in construction, allowing a historical reconstruction of a Roman household almost three centuries later, from the II century A.D. to the eruption in 79.
The discovery of ancient Herculaneum dates back to 1709 and excavations by the Austrian Prince of Elboeuf who wanted to dig a well inside his garden. It was only in 1738, following an order by Charles of Bourbon that the first regular excavation work began. It was destined to bring to light a city, which has only partly been uncovered, under the modern urban plan of Herculaneum, as confirmed by Villa dei Papiri, which can only be reached via a narrow tunnel.
Yet, Herculaneum is not all about excavations. There are many villas worth a visit enclosed within the "Miglio d'oro" (the name of the part of the ancient Via Regia, famous for the splendour of its surroundings and the wealth of its buildings), including Villa Campolieto and Villa Favorita. Shopping enthusiasts will appreciate the famous, second-hand market (Mercato di Resina) where you can buy used clothes and army surplus. It is held every day, expect Sundays, in the alleys and squares around Via Putigliano. It started during World War II, in 1944, when this Neapolitan town would sell objects and clothes stolen from passing American convoys, growing over the years that followed.
Starting in Herculaneum, you really should visit the Osservatorio Vesuviano, which, established in 1845 by Ferdinand II of Bourbon, became the first building in the world used to observe and study volcanism.