Mount Vesuvius in Campania

Mount Vesuvius
Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius

Mount Vesuvius, located in Campania, southern Italy, is the only active volcano on Europe's mainland and one of the world's most dangerous. The volcano's intriguing feature is its proximity to Naples, Italy's third-most populous metropolitan city, and surrounding towns on the nearby slopes, as well as the thousands of tourists who visit its summit each year.

It's an incredible feeling to stand on a mountain peak and look out over the world. Standing on the rim of a volcano's crater is a doubly enjoyable experience. In Naples, I didn't miss out on getting to know Mount Vesuvius better and spent an entire day walking around the beautiful Vesuvius National Park and admiring the intoxicating height of the volcano's summit.



Visitors to Naples have been captivated by Vesuvius since ancient times. In 1880, a pendulum funicular consisting of two large wagons powered by a steam engine began operation, allowing visitors to reach the top of Vesuvius. It had become almost an icon of the region over time. The funicular, however, was destroyed by the 1944 eruption and never repaired. Currently, the summit is only accessible via a well-maintained hiking trail. A road connects the volcano's base to the route for hikers, ending with a parking lot at an elevation of 1000 meters (3280 feet).

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The Volcano's Eruptions


Mount Vesuvius has been active for 200,000 years. In the last 17,000 years, it has had several violent eruptions. Vesuvius most likely formed less than 200,000 years ago. Despite being a young volcano, Vesuvius had been dormant for centuries before the 1st century.

On August 24, 1979, it had its first famous eruption, spewing a cloud of stones, ash, and fumes 33 kilometers / 20.5 miles into the air. In nineteen hours, the two wealthy Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum vanished from history until the 18th century. The eruption buried Herculaneum in more than 20 meters / 65 feet of ash, while Pompeii was buried in less than 3 meters / 10 feet.

In 1631, another violent eruption devastated many settlements on the volcano's slopes, killing 3,000 people. It signaled the beginning of a new era of the volcano's persistent activity, marked by other eruptions, for example, in 1848,  1872, and 1906. The last time Vesuvius erupted was in 1944, causing minor damage and killing nearly three dozen people.


Appearance


According to Encyclopedia Britannica, the volcano's height in 2013 was 1,281 meters (4,203 feet). This summit has a massive crater of  305 meters (1,000 feet) deep and 610 meters (2,000 feet) wide from the 1944 eruption.

Experts say that if the volcano erupted today, flaming ash and pumice could be thrown up to 20 kilometers (12 miles) away, threatening people's lives. Given this destructive potential, the eruption could endanger more than 3 million people and destroy the city of Naples.

Mount Somma, located to the north and northeast of Vesuvius, is also worth mentioning because it represents the remains of an older volcanic cone. It is a 1,132-meter (3,714-foot) semicircular ridge. The southern slope is steep enough, whereas the northern part is less steep and furrowed by several deep valleys that run radially up the slopes.


Hiking


On a spectacular hike to the top of the volcano and around its crater, you can discover incredible natural landscapes and breathtaking views of the Gulf of Naples.

The hiking trail about 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) up and down is well-maintained and relatively safe. On the way, you can see a procession of people of all ages and sizes. It takes nearly 30 minutes to walk the entire hike from the ticket gates. Of course, you'll need to be reasonably fit, and it may take you longer if you're not used to hiking uphill.

When you reach the summit of Mount Vesuvius, you can walk around the crater, admiring the multicolored rocks and debris and watching the volcanic fumes.


Mount Vesuvius in Pictures

Hiking Vesuvius
The hiking trail leading up to the summit

Hiking Vesuvius
Taking a look back on the hiking trail

Volcano crater
The crater

Volcano crater
The crater's wall

Vesuvius crater
Another look at the crater

Vesuvius
View of Naples from the summit

Vesuvius trail
Taking the southeastern hiking trail downhill

Vesuvius hike
The southeastern hiking trail downhill

How to Get There


Mount Vesuvius is only  9 kilometers (5 miles) east of Naples. To get to Vesuvius National Park, take the blue 'Sorrento' train line from Naples Central train station and get off at the Ercolano Scavi stop. The journey takes 15 minutes. From there, Vesuvio Express shuttles run to the park ticket office, which is 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) above sea level. The hiking trail starts here.

If you're driving, take the A3 Napoli-Salerno highway to the Torre del Greco or Herculaneum exit, then follow the signs for Vesuvio. An unstaffed paid parking lot is located 800 meters above sea level. Parking is 1.5 kilometers (0.9 miles) away from the ticket office; therefore, you can walk or take the shuttle.


Excellent Mount Vesuvius Tours


Opening Hours & Ticket Prices


If you intend to visit the crater on Mount Vesuvius, please check the Vesuvius National Park's official website for operating hours and ticket pricing.


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