This post was originally written for my old travel blog Dream Explore Wander on 22 June 2016.
Discovering a hidden gem is something that I always look forward to when I travel. I love hidden gems as they are usually away from the main crowd and gives you the opportunity to enjoy a place more peacefully. Of course the definition of a hidden gem can be different to everybody. My definition is a place that is away from the busy crowd, a place that might not be as popular as other attractions but just as beautiful.
I talked about my love for Pompeii before and why the place is so personal to me, however little did I know that when I arrived to Pompeii to purchase a ticket, I was able to choose a ticket just to enter Pompeii, or a ticket for several other sites (at a slightly higher price). When I knew about this I immediately bought the ticket for multiple sites as I have never heard of the other sites before and it was a bargain since the ticket could last for several days.
I didn’t have time to see all the five sites listed on my ticket so I settled for Pompeii, which was a must see for me, Herculaneum and Oplontis. Much like Pompeii, Herculaneum and Oplontis were too buried due to the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. However, these sites are not as big as Pompeii and also less crowded.
Arriving at Herculaneum I was somehow relieved. It was a far smaller in size than Pompeii, therefore I could take my time to see everything in a closer detail and there were not as many people like in Pompeii.
Herculaneum was once a fishing town and it is said that this town was even wealthier than Pompeii, proofed by its buildings and decorations. The town also suffered a great deal of loss during the eruption, many people died as they tried to escape.
It was easy to see that the frescoes and beautiful tiles seen in many of the houses are still in very good condition. It seemed that nothing ever happened to them. One of the mosaics that caught my attention was seen at the House of Neptune and Amphitrite. Inside the house, I was stunned at the brightly coloured mosaic capturing Neptune, the god of the sea, and Amphitrite, wife of Poseidon. It was clear that this place was owned by someone wealthy.
This place was definitely a lot pleasant to wander around than the crowded Pompeii.
Oplontis is yet another town that suffered from the great eruption of Vesuvius, it is also where Villa Poppaea is located. Nowadays the town is better known as Torre Annunziata. This was where I headed next after Herculaneum. Unlike Pompeii and Herculaneum which were a whole city, this was only a villa. There were hardly anyone when I went there!
It is believed that Villa Poppaea was owned by the Roman Emperor Nerro, who built it specifically for his wife, Poppaea Sabina. Apparently the wife of this Roman emperor was known to be cruel and ambitious, she was once the favourite mistress of Emperor Nero and he eventually made her his wife.
I already thought the frescoes of Herculaneum were very well preserved, but at this villa, it was even more amazing. You can still see the bright colours, most are dominated in red and orange, I couldn’t believe that this place was once buried deep. I could see all the illustrations like angels and peacocks very clearly, it was almost as if this place was built only several of hundreds years ago.
Herculaneum and Oplontis should not be missed when you visit Pompeii. I consider them as hidden treasures since both places were less crowded than Pompeii but I could still learn a lot and in more great details about the lives of the Romans. I could still see the architectural beauty of each site and even imagine myself living in these places since they are both very well preserved.
Take your time and see for yourself, I assure you that disappointment will be the last thing on your mind.
See Noni Nyonya Sepatu’s hidden treasures and perhaps you will be inspired too.
And also check out more of Europe’s hidden treasures recommended by Febby Jalan2Liburan.
5 sites (Pompeii, Herculaneum, Oplontis, Stabiae, Boscoreale) – valid for 3 consecutive days
Full price: € 20,00
Single for Pompeii (valid for 1 day)
Full price € 11,00
This week’s theme: Hidden Treasures