Getting to Herculaneum

Old Feb 21st, 2012, 10:29 AM
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Right now the jury's out on visiting another archeological site.

Peter, I've been reading about the Campania Artecard vs the Unico Costiera card. I'm assuming the card of choice is the one that more closely fits a traveler's itinerary.

Since both couples have visited this area many times (each) previously, the trip will be more of a slow travel week than a fast-paced "event."

Eight days: One full day will be devoted to visiting an ancestoral town in Avellino using a hired driver. One full day will be visiting the Amalfi Coast at a much slower pace than previous visits using a driver. Half a day +, will be spent at a cooking school, another 1/2 day will be spent on Capri (lunch).

Most other times, we want to stay in town, visit a few museums, have a leisurely lunch at the Foreigner's Club and enjoy the spectacular view. And, for the very first time, actually SIT, have something to drink, and watch the world go by.
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Old Feb 21st, 2012, 10:43 AM
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It doesn't sound like either card will be beneficial for you. You might just want a day pass for the buses (7€) if you have a day where you will be traveling by public transport enough.
kybourbon is online now  
Old Feb 21st, 2012, 12:24 PM
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Good enough.
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Old Feb 21st, 2012, 04:54 PM
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My post is 7yrs old with a dead link but below the XXXXXXXXXX is a good link and other info.
So if you're interested it's only ~200m from a Circumvesuviana that you will be passing coming & going from Sorrento to Herculaneum. Regards, Walter

OPLONTIS-VILLA POPPEA: Is a beautiful and intact Roman Villa Between Pompeii & Herculaneum.
If you buy the combo 'Pompeii and Ercolano/Herculaneum' ticket for 18e this site is also included (along with Boscoreale and Stabia).

This large intact suburban villa shouldn't be missed if you have time, it's only ~200m from the 'TORRE ANNUNZIATA' Circumvesuviana Station (brown signs on the platform will also say 'OPLONTI VILLA DI POPPEA') and very easy to find. It can be seen in an hour if you're in a rush.

It's the Circumvesuviana Station just before Pompeii Scavi if you're coming from Naples or just after if coming from Sorrento.
It's on the Naples-Sorrento Line (Herculaneum/Ercolano & Pompeii) and also the 'Naples-Sarno via Poggiomarino' Line (which goes to Herculaneum/Ercolano but not Pompeii).

The wall paintings are fantastic as is the general overall site.

Exit the Torre Annunziata Circumvesuvana Station and turn Left (the only choice is either left or right).
In ~70m the street ends in a "T", turn Right, in 40m cross the intersection and in ~90m the site and entrance will be on the Left (can't miss it).
Between that intersection and the site also on the left will be a Tourist Info Office (a blue sign/banner outside will say 'Oplonti.....something', again can't miss it, the man that runs this is very nice & helpful) you might want to pick-up a guidebook there as there are none at the site nor audioguides.

The guidebook will say 'OPLONTIS The Villa Poppea' which can also be bought at other sites (Pompeii, Herculaneum, tourist shops, 5.20e).

It's *believed* that this villa belonged to the glamorous Poppea who was Nero's mistress who later became his 2nd wife.

In 65AD he kicked the pregnant Poppea in the stomach and she died. By this point Nero had aleady killed his mother and 1st wife!

I've read that Poppea might have had a role (Nero's ear) in their deaths also.

There are 2 clues to this being Poppea's Villa. 1st an amphora was found in the villa's latrine with the inscription 'Secundo Poppaeae' meaning 'To Second (slave or freedman) of Poppea'.

Also this villa like Pompeii, Herculaneum and surrounding area was badly damaged in the 62AD earthquake and was being repaired.
But for some reason work had stopped and was unfinished before the 79AD eruption.
No one was living or working in the house when Vesuvius erupted.

Was the restoration halted after Poppea was murdered in 65AD?
Nero only had 4 yrs left in his reign and was consumed in building his Domus Aurea (Golden House) in Rome.

After Nero's suicide there was a brief civil war and then Vespasian became Emperor thus ending the 'Julio-Claudian' Line, so the villa if Nero's property was probably confiscated?
There has to be a logical reason restoration work stopped and this beautiful piece of real estate was abandoned for years?

Besides the beautiful wall paintings, atriums, fountains, huge outdoor swimming pool etc.
There is one small area that is rather unique. Go to http://LINK IS DEAD-NEW LINK IN POST BELOW THE XXXXXXX at the bottom of the page click-on 'home plan, and notes', then click-on the villa's floor plan.

See above the "8" and across the corridor in a room there is what looks like an upside-down U or |_|.
That room is the w.c./toilet, see the short hallway going to the right then to another short hallway going up & down.
The bottom of that hallway exits into that long left-right hallway between the number 5 and 8 and the top of that short up/down hall exits outside even though it looks like it is still inside the villa.
That is where you might want to visit. Your visit will start in the upper left corner entrance and you will work your way thru the villa.

When you get to the *large* outdoor swimming pool #7 on the rightside of the plan, you will see that long left/right hallway with stone benchs along the wall.
Walk down it and just before it ends and after the benches there will be a couple of steps on the right that enters that short up/down hallway mentioned above.

Go into it and turn left and visit the w.c. The stone basin on the right is where the 'sponges on a stick' were kept in water.
And if you didn't know, Roman toilets had a bench seat with a hole cutout in it where they sat but also a U-shaped cutout in the front connected to the hole they sat on. The sponge-stick was their toilet paper and inserted in the front, they were rinsed/cleaned in a small water channel at their feet.
This water channel was feed with water from the overflow of the stone sponge-stick basin.
In public w.c.'s the sponge-sticks were kept in a basin of brine (salt & water).

The seats are gone, probably wooden, in the public w.c. they would be marble usually.
But what is really unique is a men's urinal in this w.c. behind a wall.
This is something I have never seen or heard of before.
Plus it must be further proof that this villa was owned and commanded over by a woman.�

Ok go back out to the short up/down hall and turn left.
On the left wall is an inscription covered in plexiglass.
This graffiti is in Greek written by Beryllos who was probably a slave and hoped not to be forgotten.
It reads "Mnesthei Beryllos" translated "Be Beryllos remembered".

The villa was empty though but perhaps he was fleeing and sought refuge in the villa. And that would be the safest place in the villa, narrow hall with small rooms nearby all with strong walls=strong roof.
Roofs collapsed in Pompeii due to the weight of the pumice stones and ash killing many people.

Also he would have been only a couple of meters from the open doorway to the outside if the ceiling started to go.
And able to watch the Hell their Gods had unleashed upon them.

No bodies were found at the villa so perhaps he (and his group?, master, mistress, family?) decided to take their chances in trying to flee again.
Who knows, maybe he made it! (MY GUESS BELOW IS MORE PROBABLE)


The ticket office/entrance is in the upper left corner outside the map so not shown.
The large swimming pool is to the right of the map and also not shown.

For the 'Beryllos Graffiti';
46 is the long hallway/corridor you would walk down until you come to the 2 steps (shown on map) leading into the short hallway marked 52.
The 'Beryllos Graffiti' is on the left in that 52 hallway behind plexiglass.
47 is the men's urinal and 48 is the latrine.

Also I have another more likely guess on who Beryllos might have been.
From his graffiti they know that he was a slave and Greek, I'm certain they base this fact on his name? Greeks were highly prized as slaves esp for the rich and for the Emperor's staff.
There is even an Imperial Slave School on the southern slope of the Palatine Hill where other Greek graffiti was found.
Many of these Greek slaves are placed in important positions and would be able to speak, read and write in Latin and Greek.

Now *IF* this was Villa Nero's wife's it would be Imperial property I assume and after Nero's suicide still Imperial property. Even if it was his or her's private property it would have been very likely confiscated. �

Although it is unoccupied and still needing repairs it would be very wise to have someone guarding and overseeing it for theft, vandalism, weather damage, etc. even if this was some other rich person's private villa.

Having a slave guard a house is very common, the rich would have a slave guarding the front door (often chained to it) of their home at night while they slept.

Also after Nero's death there was a brief Civil War (~18months) and then Vespasian (and later his son Titus) came to power.

The Vespasians were deconstructing what the unpopular Nero built in Rome and giving it back to the people, like building the Colosseum over Nero's Domus Aurea's lake.
So perhaps not repairing this villa would have been a good move PR-wise for the Vespasians or maybe they just had no interest in this villa.

The villa is damaged in the 62AD earthquake and afterwards it is being repaired.

The repairs stop at some point.
Could Poppea's murder in 65AD which Nero deeply regretted and grieved about have been a cause for the repairs stopping?

And afterwards with the Civil War and the Vespasians in power 17yrs later the villa is still not repaired or occupied?

In 79AD the unrepaired unoccupied villa is buried by Vesuvius' eruption.

In modern times the Villa is excavated and this graffiti is found.

I have worked construction over the years and what struck me was this hallway would be where I would be in the event of an eruption with fallout and multiple earthquakes happening.

IMO it is the safest structural location in the Villa. Plus an outside doorway to escape thru in the event of collapse which also overlooks Mt. Vesuvius.
ParadiseLost is offline  
Old Feb 21st, 2012, 06:12 PM
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OMG Walter...this is a lot of information! Too late tonight to digest it. I'll read it more carefully in the morning.

Thank you.
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