The History of Mount Vesuvius
I couldn’t write an article about Pompeii and not write one about Mount Vesuvius. The two histories are intertwined. The volcano itself has erupted over 40 times in its long history. It is still an active volcano today. To give some context to the deadly eruption in AD 79, the amount of energy released was one hundred thousand times more powerful than the nuclear bombs dropped on Japan. To this day, there is still only one known survivor and an unknown death toll. Experts believe that the volcano will erupt again in the same manner. Sadly, they just don’t know when that is. This makes living near Mt. Vesuvius extremely dangerous. As a result, the magnitude of the situation set in as my wife and I made our way to the top.
As our tour bus drove up towards the mountain, our guide, Antonia, told us a little story. This was the only road for the people living in this section of the mountain. There’s only one way up and one way down. For that reason, the Italian government wanted to test out an evacuation plan in case of another catastrophic event. For the millions living in this area, they had six hours to evacuate to a designated safe zone. However, the whole process took almost three days! Most noteworthy, the traffic was said to be worse than Los Angeles and San Francisco combined. No wonder why experts consider this area so dangerous. Antonia assured us that the active volcano was not set to blow that day. I am extremely happy she was right. Full disclaimer though, the tour to the mountain is very safe.
For those of you who have read previous articles, you know I’m always up for a bit of nature and a solid hike. Since our Vesuvius and Pompeii tour was a packaged deal, I thought this was a perfect opportunity to accomplish both. The hike is a smidge above beginner. It’s not very steep, but it can be a little slippery if there’s rain. I recommend some comfortable shoes that can handle a little dirt/mud. The trail is a straight path up to the top. It’s about a mile or two long. There are three check points along the way as well. Each includes its own photo op. Once at the top, you can see sweeping views of the coastline, the island of Capri, Naples and of course, Vesuvius itself. Unfortunately for those with mobility issues, vehicles cannot drive to the top. The path is too narrow for cars.
Don’t worry, there are souvenirs here too! Each checkpoint has some type of shop. There are four in total if you count the bottom. They sell an assortment of goods and refreshments such as food, candy, water and alcohol. One of the coolest things my wife and I bought was a bottle of Vesuvio wine. I believe it’s a Chianti. However, the bottle is the best part. It’s covered in ash from the volcano. It gives the bottle this amazing, ancient feel like the Mother of Dragons made it herself. Also, you can shop for all the little knick-knacks your heart desires. You can buy stones with ash, necklaces, figurines and really anything else that involves Pompeii and Vesuvius. I recommend skipping the shops near Pompeii if you’re planning to visit Vesuvius. Due to the shops being less crowded, you have plenty of time to negotiate and look at everything.