After spending a day in Pompeii, I figured why not check out the smaller Herculaneum site in Ercolano on the way home.
Well, I almost didn't make it, as the train stops were covered with so much graffiti you couldn't figure out which stop you were at, and the conductor didn't make announcements, and, well, I'm a tourist.
There are lots of towns that were destroyed by Vesuvius on the fateful day. Pompeii is the largest and best known, Herculaneum is the best preserved. Herculaneum was also a more ritzy town than Pompeii, and buried deeper in ash- (60 feet! The site looks recessed into the earth because of it) and pyroclastic flow, so it yielded more riches and better preserved artifacts.
Very creepy- recently, more than 300 skeletons were discovered huddled together down by the sea in the boat houses, as people here had run to the ocean in hopes to be rescued. They even found house keys on the skeletons, as they had been hoping to return home. The seaport with the skeletons aren't always open (they weren't when I was there) but the rest of the site was fascinating. I would even be as bold to say that if you had to choose, go here instead of Pompeii. It's smaller, it's less crowded, and it was more dense with interesting things to see. I was there in late afternoon, and aside from a group of German teenagers, I was the only one there.
There were pubs where you could buy wine and have your lunch, with enormous vats of wine lining the countertops.
It was small- it took about two hours to see everything. I got the audio guide just for some company, and I saw a lot of good stuff and details because of it.