Pompeii & Naples at New Year
Naples’ streets and buildings are packed with life - festooned with washing and, at this time of year, decorated with the elaborate cribs of the Neapolitan tradition. Explore the city - its wonderful churches and museums, and the astonishing remnants of the ancient city. On top of this, travel to Sant Maria Capua Vetere, the slave home of Spartacus, to visit one of the best- preserved temples to the God Mithras. Then later in the tour, to the incomparable Pompeii – destroyed, yet preserved, by Vesuvius in AD79. This will also be the time to experience a Neapolitan New Year – an unforgettable occasion - residents literally throwing away the old year... This is one of the best places to enjoy New Year’s Eve!
- See out the old year with a day in Pompeii when it is almost devoid of tourists
- Travel to the amazing Piscina Mirabilis - the giant Roman cistern that fed the Roman Fleet at Misenum
- Visit the temple of Mithras, mithraeum, at Santa Maria Capua Vetere with John Shepherd, a specialist in Roman religion and author of the book on London’s famous mithraeum
- Historic Churches
- Christmas - New Year
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We arrive in the enchanting city of Naples, one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world, and transfer to our luxurious hotel in the heart of the historic centre.
Following a delicious breakfast our adventures begin with a trip to Santa Maria Capua Vetere. Once the largest city after Rome and the gladiatorial training ground of Spartacus, for a brief spell it defected to the rule of Hannibal, who made Capua his winter residence. In the Museo Archeologico dell’Antica Capua we find recently-excavated artefacts dating from the city’s pre-Roman era, allowing us to chart Capua’s incredible past from 800 BC onwards.
This afternoon we return to Naples and visit the cloister of Santa Chiara, covered with fabulous maiolica tiles, the Roman baths and the excavated streets below San Lorenzo Maggiore.
Today we have a a full day roaming the incomparable sights of Pompeii – destroyed, yet preserved, by the mighty Vesuvius in AD 79. Nowhere in the world offers a more comprehensive look at the compelling minutiae of everyday Roman life. We tour villas, bars and shops – even brothels – and step in to a selection of recently opened sites such as the House of Paquius Proculus, with its staggering selection of beautiful mosaics. Expect to be amazed.
This morning we head underground, slipping beneath the streets of Naples to view the secret world that lies beneath...
The Catacombs of San Gennero is our first stop. The patron saint of Naples was buried here under the later Roman Empire before being moved to the Cathedral. We continue to the sprawling Bourbon Palace that now houses the Capodimonte Museum with its collection of paintings, sculptures and ceramics.
This evening we celebrate New Years Eve in style by attending the ballet.
On New Year’s morning we get up close and personal with the gorgeous Piscina Mirabilis – a huge cliff-carved cistern which stored water for the Roman fleet stationed in the harbour at Misenum.
We continue to the Greco-Roman city of Pozzuoli to see one of the best-preserved amphitheatres in the Roman world, constructed by the same architects who built the Colosseum. A sizeable Roman Macellum nearby continues to impress, as does the half-submerged Temple of Serapide.
We enjoy a Gala dinner at the hotel this evening.
Today we have time to explore Naples at our own leisure. Take a reviving stroll beside the bay perhaps, relax with a pastry in one of Naples’ historic cafes, wander the bustling Neopolitan streets or visit the exceptional Naples Museum, which houses an extensive selection of artefacts discovered in Pompeii.
Today we visit the once prosperous city of Herculaneum, which was buried by deep pyroclastic surges hotter than those which simultaneously covered Pompeii. Unlike Pompeii, organic objects such as wood, cloth, food and skeletons emerged here from the ash in an excellent state of preservation. Herculaneum suffered significant earthquake damage some 15 years before Vesuvius’ great eruption, and evidence of this is still visible on its buildings today.
Highlights include marble-tiled shops, graceful boathouses in which human remains were discovered, stunning mosaics in the House of Neptune, the luxurious waterfront villa of the House of the Deer, and the House of the Beautiful Courtyard, in which we find two skeletons fused together with volcanic debris.
Later, we transfer to the airport for our evening flight home.
- Expert Guide Lecturer
- Tour Manager
- Local Travel - Private a/c coach
- Meals - All meals included with wine at dinner
- Entries & Tips - Entry to all sites in programme; tips included
- Field Notes
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