Pompeii and Herculaneum with Michael Scott
Travel back to Roman times with broadcaster and Classicist Michael Scott, alongside other noted experts who will provide you with insights into Roman Italy’s past. The tour also features visits to the galleries at Naples Museum filled with iconic art from the ancient world, and a chance to tread the pavements of the Roman town of Herculaneum.
We are offering Daily Mail readers the opportunity to glimpse the long-vanished world of Roman Campania. During our unique five day tour, we discover buried cities and palatial villas that lie on the shores of the Bay of Naples. Viewing these Roman towns, finely preserved by the eruption of Vesuvius in AD 69, with all their vivid, haunting detail, offers us the opportunity to understand how people lived 2000 years ago. Lose yourself in the past, and meet the Romans as you walk the ancient streets discovering the lives of gladiators, slaves, citizens and senators.
- Discover Pompeii & Herculaneum - Nowhere in the world gives a deeper insight into Roman life than the dramatic seaside towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Before the eruption of Vesuvius these were thriving, lively seaside towns… but all this came to an abrupt halt one August day in AD 79. Vesuvius, previously thought to be extinct, erupted with a cataclysmic force – forever preserving a vivid, haunting picture of the Roman world. In some cases we even know the names, professions and personal histories of the people who owned the villas and shops we visit.
- Explore the Villa at Oplontis - Visit the opulent villa at Oplontis; buried and preserved, the villa is thought to have been owned by Poppea, wife of Nero. It is a magnificent complex, complete with mosaics, frescos, courtyards and gardens. The grandeur is in stark contrast to the ordinary houses of Pompeii and Herculaneum, although the eruption of Vesuvius ultimately spared neither rich nor poor.
- Travel with Classicist and Broadcaster Michael Scott - Professor Scott is one of the leading lights in the world of classical archaeology, who is renowned both for his academic knowledge and rigour, and his ability to bring the past to life as a writer and broadcaster. We are very lucky to have Michael join us on tour for a visit to Baiae, the opulent seaside haunt of wealthy Romans before the eruption of Vesuvius.
- Excellent Company & Expertise - You will travel with a group of like-minded people, using our private coach. You will be accompanied by a professional tour manager, in addition to our expert archaeological guide – who offers their own eye-opening expertise and enthusiasm.
Romans and Christians
We arrive in Naples and travel to the lovely church of Santa Chiara, here, under the majolica cloisters, we also find a substantial Roman bathhouse, the excavations of which are now accessible to visitors. After further exploration of Naples we transfer to our hotel for a welcome dinner with the group this evening.
We devote a whole day to Pompeii. No other site can compare in revealing the scale and proportions of a Roman town. We visit some of the best-preserved buildings, including the amphitheatre, theatre, forum, bathhouses, bars and brothels. Wander past fountains in the street, worn where thousands of people have rested their hands to take a drink; the stepping stones, wheel ruts; the graffiti on house walls. Travelling by the best routes to avoid the crowds we visit several villas which have only recently re-opened to the public. We enjoy dinner at a local restaurant tonight.
Romans at the Seaside
This morning, we marvel at the exceptional collections of artefacts at the National Archaeological Museum at Naples. Many of the best wall-paintings and statues were brought here in the early years of the excavations. Those who wish to explore the more explicit side of Roman life can also enter the museum’s ‘Forbidden Room’ whose frescoes and artefacts are infamous and detailed!
This afternoon we are joined by Professor Michael Scott at the ancient ‘seaside resort’ of Baiae. It is believed that the Romans liked to go to the beach as much as we do, though, instead of floating on the waves, they preferred to languish in baths of salt water in the comfort of shore-side resorts. Baiae was one of these Roman resorts, and we can easily imagine hedonistic days spent amid mineral springs and a labyrinth of villas.
Our groups join for dinner where Michael will deliver an insightful lecture at our hotel this evening.
We visit Herculaneum this morning, though smaller, the town was buried to a much greater depth than Pompeii. Here, you wander streets with almost complete Roman houses rising on either side, preserved up to their rooftops in some cases! Until relatively recently it was thought that most of the population of Herculaneum escaped the eruption. However, excavations have now uncovered over 300 skeletons of townsfolk who had taken refuge in boat chambers along the shore.
We spend the afternoon at the vast villa complex at Oplontis, first discovered in the 18th century, and is believed to have belonged to Poppaea Sabina, the wife of the Emperor Nero. The villa was originally constructed around the middle of the first century B.C, but was extended during the reign of Nero to incorporate a large outdoor swimming pool. More than more than 100 rooms have been excavated so far, many featuring gorgeous frescoes. The momentous space also features outdoor garden areas, pergolas and porticos.
If time allows this morning we go off the beaten track to the villas of Stabiae, an exclusive Roman resort for the very wealthy. The vast Villa San Marco is one of the most opulent along this coast - and remains very impressive in its scale. The Villa Arianna gives wonderful views over the Bay of Naples and is remarkably little visited. We walk through the grand rooms, chambers and gardens in splendid isolation. Transfer to Naples for flights home or onward journeys.
Please note: flight times permitting, all sites described in the itinerary will be visited, but the order may of visits differ from that shown.
- Hotel - 4 nights in a 4* hotel in the centre of Naples, with views over to Vesuvius
- Expert Guide Lecturer - Travel with eminent Classicist and Broadcaster Michael Scott
- Professional Tour Manager - Benefit from the expertise of a specialist Archaeologist Guide, who will accompany you throughout the tour.
- Local Travel - Comfortable local travel in air conditioned coach
- Meals - All Meals are included except lunch at Pompeii and on travelling days. Wine with dinners.
- Excursions and tips - Entry to all excursions and tips in the programme
Stay in comfort in a lovely 4* hotel in the centre of Naples, with views over to Vesuvius
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