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NADFAS REVIEW/ AUTUMN 2010 49

50NADFAS REVIEW / AUTUMN 2010www.nadfas.org.ukTRAVEL/TOURSAt the time of the terrible eruptionof Vesuvius, Naples (or Neapolis)was an essentially Greek citywithin the Roman empire. Its peoplemaintained their Greek language andcustoms and worshipped at theTemple of the Dioskouroi (Helen'sbrothers, Castor and Pollux). WhenPompeii was buried in ash andHerculaneum in mud in 79AD, theport of Naples escaped relativelyunscathed and soon grew to beadministrative centre of the bay thattook its name.Today, Naples is a city of full ofmedieval, Renaissance and Baroqueglories. Relics from its Greek andRoman origins are in the MuseoArcheologico Nazionale. Though themuseum is a great attraction, and so isCastel Nuovo near the harbour and theDuomo too, I could not give Naples theattention it deserved until I hadexplored those two Roman ghost cities.Saving the big one till last, I headed outto Herculaneum on a bright Neapolitanmorning. Very little of this Roman holidayresort has been excavated and it'ssurprising to realise that the seashore isnow almost a kilometre away, thanks inpart to the mud and volcanic debris thatdrowned the town in 79AD. The secondsurprise is how far down RomanHerculaneum is. I found myself gazing intoa pit 25 metres below the surface. The oldshoreline with its boathouses in whichpeople waited for rescue 1,931 years agolooks out to an excavated cliff face.Walking down the modern ramp Icame to four complete city blocks andthe beginning of more blocks that lieunexcavated, to the north, east andwest. While a much smaller site thanPompeii,the great pleasure ofHerculaneum is the way that many of itsbuildings have been preserved at theirfull height. The town was hit bypyroclastic surges of heat that killed allthose who had not left the town(including refugees waiting on the shore)and carbonised many objects so thatthey did not decay when later