Ercolano is a town and comune in the province of Naples, Campania (southern Italy). It lies at the western foot of Mount Vesuvius, on the Bay of Naples, just southeast of the city of Naples. The medieval town of Resina was built on the volcanic material left by the eruption of Vesuvius (AD 79) that destroyed the ancient city of Herculaneum, from which the present name is derived. Ercolano is a resort and the starting point for excursions to the excavations of Herculaneum and for the ascent of Vesuvius by bus. The town also manufactures leather goods, buttons, glass, and the wine known as Lacryma Christi (Tear of Christ).
For the ancient city, see Herculaneum.
Ercolano was most likely founded by the Oscans, an Italic tribe of the 8th century BC, and later became part of both the Etruscan and Samnite dominions. Under the control of the Romans, the city was a renowned seaside resort where some of the richest Roman citizens passed their summer vacations. After the AD 79 eruption of Mt. Vesuvius, the city was completely buried under 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.
Records of rehabitation in the area begin to appear around the year 1000, when the sanctuary called Castel di Resina, one of the most visited in the Campania region, was recorded to have been located on a hill in that area. It is named after the Greek god Herakles.The area was largely repopulated over the next 500 years, creating the small town of Resina, named after the old sanctuary, with homes and neighborhoods being built above the uncovered ancient ruins of Herculaneum. In 1709, the ancient Roman city was rediscovered and explored. Since then, Herculaneum has been partially excavated. Over time, the town of Resina became part of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, up until the unification of Italy of 1861, and eventually became part of the metropolitan area of the city of Naples.
In 1969, the town changed its name from Resina to Ercolano, the Italian modernization of the ancient name in honour of the ancient city.
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