Casa Scola is only 25 Km from the city of Herculaneum, which can be reached by car (exit Ercolano of A3 Motorway), or by trains of the circumvesuviana from Castellammare di Stabia (Info line Naples-Sorrento stop Ercolano ). In addition to the Herculaneum excavations you can reach Vesuvius crater, following different paths starting from Via Benedetto Cozzolino, from where every hour guided tours bring to relive phases and history of the major eruptions. From the Vesuvius cone you can enjoy a unique view.
In AD 62 the town suffered major damage from a violent earthquake and restoration works were still going on when on 24 August of AD 79 Mt. Vesuvius erupted and completely buried the city under a deep layer of hot mud and other volcanic material. Unlike neighboring Pompeii, the citizens of Herculaneum died of thermal shock from the extremely hot pyroclastic surges, rather than buried under heavy ash.
Founding of Resina
After the eruption of AD 79 the area was slowly re-populated and in AD 121 the old coast road from Naples to Nocera was probably in place. In the Basilica di Santa Maria a Pugliano are two early Christian marble sarcophagi from the 2nd and 4th centuries AD which give evidence of habitation on the site of the buried Herculaneum.
Unfortunately there are no historical records covering the period between the collapse of the Western Roman Empire and the year 1000, but it is certain that the coast near Mount Vesuvius would have been exposed to frequent wars as a result of the peoples and armies invading the Empire. The first records of the existence of a village named Resina or Risìna, (… de alio latere est ribum de Risina… ; … de alio capite parte meridiana est resina …, etc.), are from the 10th century.
The etymology of the name is controversial. Some academics believe that it comes from a corruption of Rectina, the name of the Roman noblewoman from Herculaneum who asked Pliny The Elder for help during the eruption in AD 79. Other explanations are that the name could come from the Latin word raetincula, meaning the nets used by the fishermen of Herculaneum, or from the resin of trees grown on the ancient lava, or from the name of the river that flowed alongside Herculaneum. Finally some suggest that the name is the anagram of sirena (siren): a siren was the symbol of the village and the town of Resina until 1969. Documents from the 11th century indicate the presence of a chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary on a hill called Pugliano whose name probably derives from Praedium Pollianum, an ancient estate outside Herculaneum whose owner was called Pollio.
In 1418 Queen Joanna II of Naples conceded the Università (villages with local governments) of Torre del Greco, Resina, Portici and Cremano to her favourite Sergianni Caracciolo and later to Antonio Carafa. Since then, these villages belonged to the Carafa family and passed from hand to hand following the historical events of the family and the Kingdom and Vice Kingdom of Naples. The main business of the inhabitants of Resina were: agriculture, fishing (also corals, together with the inhabitants of Torre del Greco), and cut and carving the volcanic stone. In the 16th century the worship for the Madonna di Pugliano, venerated in the church of Santa Maria a Pugliano, was so spread that numerous pilgrims flooded from all the surrounding areas and in 1574 the church is first mentioned as Basilica pontificia; two years later became the parish church of Resina, also including the neighbour Portici until 1627. In 1631 Mt. Vesuvius violently erupted after a long era of quiescence destroying the area all around, killing more than 4.000 people and altering the geography of the places. It was the second most devastating eruption of Mt. Vesuvius ever, after the one that destroyed Pompeii and Herculaneum in AD 79. The territory of Resina was struck by two legs of lava that split behind the hill of Pugliano and spared the houses of the village; one of the legs filled the valley on the western side of it and when it solidified the village grew on the new plain and the large via Pugliano was built heading straight to the basilica on the top of the hill. After about three centuries of feudal submission, in 1699 Resina and the neighbour Portici, Torre del Greco and Cremano set free from baronial status paying 106.000 ducats (and more 2.500 for extra charge) to the Crown property as ransom price. Resina paid one third of the total amount. The Baronial Ransom is one of the most memorable events of the history of Resina and its neighbouring towns.
The eruption of 1631 and Baronial Liberation of 1699
In 1631 Mt. Vesuvius wakes up after a long period of quiet and devastated the surrounding area with extensive damage and claiming 4,000 victims. The Resìna territory was invaded by at least two lava flows that they separated at the back of the sanctuary of Pugliano: one went to fill the valley to the west of where the old river flowed and the other invaded the fields to the east to the sea. Damage and casualties were not as numerous as in the neighboring Portici and Torre del Greco, indeed, the event was used for western expansion of the town with the construction of a larger and more comfortable way, now Via Pugliano, coming up to the basilica of Santa Maria a Pugliano. In 1656 Resìna was hit by the bubonic plague, which reaped over 400 victims. Some families took refuge in the hills below the crater where thanks to the air healthier escaped the scourge; in recognition they decided to erect in that place a chapel dedicated to the Saviour. Despite the feudal yoke was not overly possessive, the resinesi became aware of the need to break free from the feudal state and together with torresi and porticesi asked to exercise the ius praelationis to redeem the feud which in those years was the center of financial disputes between the heirs Carafa and State Property. After an attempt made in 1696 and later in December of 1698, the President of the Royal House of Summaria, Don Michele Vargas Macciucca, May 18, 1699 decreed that Torre del Greco, Resìna, Portici and Cremano (it now belongs to the territory Portici and not to be confused with the nearby San Giorgio a Cremano) was dissolved by the feudal bond upon payment to the owners of a sum of 106,000 ducats plus another 2,500 charges. The expenditure was divided among the farmhouses according to their importance in terms of population, economic and territorial, according to calculations made by tabular court; so that citizens of resin contributed to a third of the sum, ie 35,333 ducats for preemption and additional 833 for incidental expenses (compared to almost 57,000 ducats paid by Torre of the Greco and 15,400 from Portici).
The baronial liberation of Resìna (Herculaneum), Torre del Greco and Portici remains one of the most memorable pages in the history of the three Vesuvian cities.
Re-discovery of Herculaneum
In 1709 Emmanuel Maurice, Duke of Elbeuf, while constructing his residence on the coast of Portici, heard of a man who discovered ancient marbles and columns while digging a well in the nearby town of Resina. The duke bought his farm and started digging wells and galleries underground and excavated statues, columns and marbles that he used for his Portici residence, also giving them as precious gifts to his friends, relatives and monarchs around Europe. The news reached King Charles VII of Naples, who became aware of the importance of the finds and bought the duke’s farm and started a methodical campaign of excavation with the aim of digging out all the treasures underground. In the meantime the news of the discovery of the ancient Herculaneum spread all around Europe, and boosted the cultural movement in Europe called Neoclassicism as well as the custom of the Grand Tour among the British and European upper-class. A view of the Golden Mile street in the centre Enthusiastic about the large amounts and the beauty of the archaeological finds, the king had the summer Palace of Portici constructed, on the border with Resina. Findings of Herculaneum were housed in a dedicated part of the palace, which was open for the king’s guests. The size of the collection increased after 1750, when exploration of the large suburban villa of the Pisoni family brought large amounts of wooden and marble statues to light: the two corridori (racers) or lottatori (wrestlers) and the Sleeping Mercury are the most well-known ones. Of special importance was the discovery in 1752 of the burnt papyrus scrolls of the library of the villa, known today as the Villa dei Papiri. They were carefully unrolled using a special machine made by Fr. Antonio Piaggio, containing the work of the epicurean Greek philosopher Philodemus. Together with the construction of the first Italian railway in 1839, some industrial facilities were established along the coast (glassworks, tanneries, train wagons, etc.) that altered the previous landscape. Nevertheless, Resina remained an agricultural town, celebrated for its fruit and healthy air and was the well-known destination for the visits to the underground Theatre of Herculaneum and the ascension to the crater of Mt. Vesuvius. In 1845 was inaugurated the Real Osservatorio Vesuviano (Royal Vesuvius Observatory) the first in the world. In 1863 the local artist Marco De Gregorio founded the School of Resina an art movement that broke up with the academic painting tradition. In 1865 the King of Italy Vittorio Emanuele II inaugurated the open air excavations of Herculaneum. In 1880 the Funicular railway on Mount Vesuvius was inaugurated and the event inspired the world famous Neapolitan song Funiculì, Funiculà. The funicular was repeatedly wrecked by volcanic eruptions and abandoned after the eruption of 1944. Since 1904 the Circumvesuviana railway operated from Naples to Castellammare di Stabia with a station in Resina-Pugliano, close to the Basilica of Santa Maria a Pugliano and the funicular to Mt. Vesuvius. On 1927 King Vittorio Emanuele III of Italy inaugurated the new entrance of the archaeological site of Herculaneum on the Miglio d’Oro and a new street was opened some years later to join the archaeological site to the Circumvesuviana railway and funicular stations. In 1930 was opened the second oldest Italian motorway from Naples to Pompeii with an exit in Resina. From the second half of the 19th century to modern times Resina has been a residential and holiday place for both aristocracy and Neapolitan middle class who lived in the celebrated villas of the Miglio d’Oro or modern ones such as Villa Battista, an elegant art nuveau building. Among the famous people who lived or used to frequent the town have to be mentioned: the poet and writer Gabriele D’Annunzio, the scientist Arnaldo Cantani, the former Khedive of Egypt Isma’il Pasha who opened the Suez Canal and lived six years (1879-1885) during his exile in Villa Favorita, the Italian Prime Minister Antonio Salandra, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Carlo Sforza, King Gustav VI of Sweden, amateur archaeologist. To these ones hundreds of artists, scholars, historians, scientists, kings, Roman Popes, Presidents, prime ministers, ambassadors, politicians, and other celebrities came to Resina to visit the underground Theatre and the archaeological site of Herculaneum and Mt. Vesuvius. Famous citizens of Resina were: Benedetto Cozzolino, who founded in 1788 a school for the deaf and dumb, the first in the Kingdom of Naples and the second in Italy after the one in Rome; Amadeo Bordiga, founder with Antonio Gramsci of the Partito Comunista d’Italia, the Communist Party of Italy; the philosopher Adriano Tilgher; the painter Alfonso Marquez as well as the already mentioned Marco De Gregorio.
Growth of modern Resina
Following the king’s example, nobles of the kingdom started building their summer villas and gardens next to the royal palace and the surrounding area. On the stretch of the main street called Strada Regia delle Calabrie, which is the royal street towards to the region of Calabria, from the centre of Resina to the beginning of nearby Torre del Greco, large and representative villas were constructed. This part of the street is known as the Golden Mile (Miglio d’Oro). Amongst the most outstanding buildings are the Villa Campolieto, designed by Luigi Vanvitelli, and the Villa Favorita, designed by Ferdinando Fuga. The Villa Favorita received its name from Queen Maria Carolina of Austria, because the place reminded her of her childhood’s surrounding of Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna. In 1799 during the last days of the Parthenopaean Republic, final fights took place in the streets of Resina and Portici between the king’s supporters and the republicans. To celebrate the return of King Ferdinand IV of Naples against the “atheist” and pro-French republic, the inhabitants of Resina constructed a chapel of thanksgiving with a crucifix on the spot that replaced the republican Tree of Freedom. On 27 June 1802, the king returned in Naples landing to the pier of Villa Favorita. During the kingdom of Joachim Murat Villa Favorita still was used for parties and celebrations held by the king and the winding and narrow leg of the Strada Regia delle Calabrie in Resina was straightened and widened throughout the town centre.
The MAV, The Virtual Archeological Museum
In the years after WWII in via Pugliano flourished the street market of Pugliano (or Resina) that quickly became nationwide famous for the selling of used clothes (“pezze”) and a mecca for seekers of vintage clothes and bargains. On 12 February 1969, following a formal request of the Town Council, the President of Italian Republic decreed the change of the name of the town from Resina to Ercolano that is the Italian version of ancient Herculaneum. In 1971 the Ente per le Ville Vesuviane was instituted and it is now a foundation, with the objective of restoring and preserving the main 18th-century villas. The villas that were first restored were Villa Campolieto, Villa Ruggiero and the seaside park of Villa Favorita and its facilities that all now host cultural events and the headquarters of cultural institutions and postgraduate School. In the 1980s and 1990s the town was hit by the industrial crisis with a dramatic growth of unemployment and crime. Since last years of the centuries started a renewed commitment for a U-turn of policy and strategies to boost social and economic growth oriented to a touristic and cultural exploitation. In 1995 the Parco Nazionale del Vesuvio (Mt.Vesuvius National Park) was created and all the area of Ercolano north of motorway is included in the Park; in 1997 the Archaeological site of Herculaneum was listed in the UNESCO World Heritage together with Pompeii and Oplonti and Mt. Vesuvius and the Miglio d’Oro were included in the World Network of Biosphere Reserves under the Unesco’s Man and Biosphere Reserve Programme; in 2005 the MAV (Virtual Archeologic Museum) was opened and the open-air permanent exhibition Creator Vesevo was inaugurated with 10 stone sculptures of contemporary famous international artists lined up along the street heading to Mt. Vesuvius crater.