There is controversy on the actual date that Mt. Vesuvius erupted. Archeologists have found some people wearing warmer clothing to suggest the eruption occurring later in the year. The crops discovered were more typical of October, as was evidence of sealed wine fermenting jars. Some researchers reject the date due to wind patterns that were not typical for that time of year. But as we all know, Mother Nature has a mind of its own.
Mt. Vesuvius’s last eruption was during World War II in 1944 and caused one of the biggest losses of any US bombardment group during the war. US Army Air Forces were forced to evacuate. When they returned days later, almost all of the B-25 Mitchell bombers in Pompeii Airfield were destroyed at fault of the ash and tephra. This eruption destroyed the funicular cable car that went up Mt. Vesuvius. It was never rebuilt.
Mt. Vesuvius is a ticking time bomb. It has been over 70 years since the last eruption, the longest dormancy in centuries. An eruption would put an estimated 3 million people at risk. The Italian government hopes to have 14-20 days warning of the next eruption to allow time to evacuate citizens. There are about 600,000 people living in the “red zone” at the base of Mt. Vesuvius. The Italian government has offered to pay these citizens to move out of the area, but few have taken them up on this opportunity. I was told that they were raised there and do not want to leave what they know.
You can get here by train or car, but since I’ve been known to get lost following people, we hired a guide for the area that day. Making your way up Mt. Vesuvius, be prepared for a steep incline with loose rocks under your feet. When you reach the summit of Mt. Vesuvius, you can see the Bay of Naples (on a clear day), as well as Pompeii in the distance. While walking around the summit, you can peer into the crater that is about 1000 feet deep and may even see steam venting in between the rocks.