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Climb Up One of the World’s Most Dangerous Volcanoes!

Mt. Vesuvius. One of the world’s most dangerous volcanoes! The only active volcano in mainland Europe.

Danger. Volcano. Physical activity. All words that brought attention when researching things to do in the Naples area while on our recent cruise. As a little girl, I was interested in the tragic story of Pompeii and the eruption on August 24, 79AD. When I found out I could hike the volcano that caused such a catastrophic event, I planned my day around it!

With the force of 100,000 atomic bombs, Mt. Vesuvius erupted spewing gas and volcanic ash high up into the air in the shape of what Pliny the Younger described as an umbrella pine. (I suggest some research on the story of Pliny and his uncle who went to the rescue after the eruption. Plinian eruptions were named after his description of the violent, quickly expanding clouds into the atmosphere.)

The eruption, lasting about 24 hours, caused about 16,000 deaths in the area, including people in the towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Some people were buried alive by tephra fragments while others died from the pyroclastic surge, or cloud of toxic gas. Herculaneum is better preserved due to being covered in mud instead of flaming pumice like Pompeii, due to the direction of the wind.

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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.

Tips for the Climb Up Mt. Vesuvius

  • Bring a bottle of water. You WILL get thirsty.
  • Bring money if you want to buy more water or some souvenirs.
  • Wear supportive shoes. I wore Chacos and the rocks kept getting under my feet.
  • It is cooler up at the top. We went in August and it was the perfect temperature!
  • Bring a camera and take the time to enjoy the view! Give yourself at least 2 hours for this activity.
  • Check out Pompeii and the museum in Naples that houses the bodies and remnants of the era. A visit to the area is not complete without it!
  • Check out Herculaneum, which is better preserved than Pompeii due to being buried in about 60 feet of mud and volcanic material.

The ticket office to make your way up Mt. Vesuvius is open daily at 9AM, except for in poor weather. Cost is 8 Euros. I would advise to get there early to avoid crowds, or at least 1 hour before closing time.

By | 2016-10-20T23:35:32+00:00 August 28th, 2016|

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