The name of the ancient Herculaneum derives from the legendary foundation of the city by Hercules...
The name of the ancient Herculaneum derives from the legendary foundation of the city by Hercules, attracted by the beauty of the places.
It was probably founded by the Oscans in the 8th century B.C. and then passed under Etruscan, Greek, Samnite and Roman domination (307 B.C.). Thanks to the amenity of the place and of the climate, the city became one of the most splendid residential places of the Roman patriciate, who built here grandiose residences among which the villa of L. Calpurnio Pisone (Villa dei Papiri), one of the greatest of the antiquity, cenacle of European philosophers and men of letters. The terrible eruption of Vesuvius on 24 August 79 AD erased the city in a few hours.
The territory, uninhabited for a long time, began to repopulate gradually in the first centuries A.D., but only around the year 1000 we have certain news about a Casale di Resina (or Risìna). Already at that time, on the hill of Pugliano, there was a sanctuary (the oldest in the Vesuvian area) dedicated to the Madonna that was among the most popular pilgrimage destinations in all of Campania, the object of numerous indulgences of the Roman Pontiffs, as well as donations and legacies from the Neapolitan nobility. Papal Basilica since '500, was until 1627 the only parish of Resina and Portici. The wonders that emerged from the excavations and the fascination exerted by Vesuvius made the city a destination for scholars, writers and wealthy tourists who included it among the most popular stops on the European Grand Tour.
The city has been in various periods seat of numerous and prestigious cultural institutions and artistic movements; the Herculaneum Academy, the International School of Archaeology, founded by A. Maiuri and, at the end of '800, the "School of Resina", a pictorial current of national fame that had among the most prestigious names Adriano Cecioni, Marco De Gregorio, Francesco De Nittis and Federico Rossano.