Pompeii, Herculaneum, or Ostia Antica?

Old Apr 19th, 2001, 07:43 AM
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Pompeii, Herculaneum, or Ostia Antica?

Which is most likely to knock my socks off, archeologically speaking? I'm trying to ignore the convenience factor for the moment.
Daytripping from Rome, late Sept.
Old Apr 19th, 2001, 08:07 AM
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Much as I like Ostia Antica, the "knock the socks off" spot is Herculaneum.

On the other hand, with less than a week in Rome and with two days across the river at the pope's home, you might not want to commit a full (very full) day to an excursion.

Given your schedule I'd probably not opt to go down south on this trip ... but the priorities of what's in and around the city vs. H/P are yours alone.
Old Apr 19th, 2001, 10:13 AM
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I haven't visited Herculaneum, but between Pompeii and Ostia Antica, Pompeii is far superior. Here's a website I found with pictures of all three which may help you to decide. Pompeii from Rome is a full day trip.

Old Apr 20th, 2001, 07:08 AM
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thanks for the info, Ed

and Kris, that website is awesome!
Great pictures of, I guess, sites in Italy that have ancient ruins

Looks to me like Ostia ranks a poor third in archeological socks-knocking-off, but it may win because of convenience.
The pics of the ruins of P and H look equally thrilling--any other comments on how the two sites differ?
Old Apr 20th, 2001, 07:32 AM
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Elaine, if you go to the beginning of the link, there's also pictures of Rome and other parts of Italy that are fabulous.


We're heading to Rome for our 2nd visit in a month, can't wait!!!
Old Apr 20th, 2001, 07:53 AM
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Elaine: You asked about differences between Herculaneum and Pompeii. As you probably know, they both were destroyed the same day with the Vesuvius eruption. Herculaneum (Ercolano) was a more patrician city, with quite elaborate villas, baths (divided by gender which we hadn't seen before), etc. It is much smaller than Pompeii, at least the part excavated. The city of Ercolano is built over it and therefore excavation has been limited.

We liked Ostia Antica, though not as impressive as either of the above. It was much larger than I anticipated, has some interesting mosaics and a theater which is in pretty good shape. There is a museum on the site with a small gift shop. The site is easy to get to by metro with one transfer to a train and is a short walk from the station. We enjoyed our day there and I think you will too.
Old Apr 20th, 2001, 08:10 AM
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Elaine, years ago we visited Herculaneum the day after the National Geographic photo shoot. My cousin suggested Herculaneum (she lives in Ercolano) because, in her opinion, the ruins were more spectacular than Pompeii, you could see much more in a smaller area, and it wasn't as crowded as Pompeii. We never went to Pompeii so I can only offer her comparisons. We thought the ruins at Herculaneum were amazing!
Old Apr 20th, 2001, 09:11 AM
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For Elaine and others considering visiting Ostia, or Herculaneum or Pompeii ...

There's no question the latter two are among the finest accessible archaelogical sites in the world.

That said, Ostia Antica is no slouch. It only suffers by comparison to those two. If they are a 10 on the archaelogy scale, Ostia's an 8 or a nine, and holds advantages over Pompeii or Herculaneum:

-Neither are typical of Roman cities; Pompeii a summer spot (e.g. The Hamptons of Long Island), the other a place for patricians. Ostia was a working city, the port of Rome. Carl Sandberg would have said it had "brawn shoulders". Ostia survived 300 or more years beyond the others and offers more historical depth and architectural diversity.

Finally, practical matters: Ostia is easy to get to which the others are not; it's not crowded which one can certainly not say about Pompeii, and it's well shaded which makes it unique ... and valuable in warm weather.

Visitors should never feel they're "settling" for Ostia Antica ... your visit there will be enjoyable and enlightening. And perhaps, like us, you go back again and again.

Old Apr 20th, 2001, 11:26 AM
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Regardless of which you choose, be sure and shell out the extra money for a guided tour. The booklets they provide you simply do not cover the depth of information that a good guide will.
Our guide at Pompeii knocked our socks off in terms of making the ruins come alive for us. He pointed out wonderful things that other tourists are just walking over and shared many interesting anecdotes.... I highly recommend you get a guide for either sight if at all possible.

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