How many people can say that they have been on the top of a volcano that caused one of the biggest disasters of the ancient world? Not many.
But if you are coming to Italy for your holiday and, more specifically, to Naples area, why don’t you consider to plan a hike to the crater of Mount Vesuvius?
Don’t worry, it’s not dangerous. Well, at least not now! The last eruption of Vesuvius was in 1944 and it wasn’t as catastrophic as the one that destroyed Pompeii and Herculaneum back in 79 AD (if you have enough time, go to the archeological sites of Pompeii and Herculaneum to see the rest of the ancient cities buried during the eruption).
Hiking the Vesuvius is not particularly hard (but not easy): there is a street that leads close to the top, then a spiral path around the mountain takes you to the crater. The path is steep sometimes but it’s always wide and there is a handrail to help people walking on the sandy and stony ground.
While proceeding along the trail you are surrounded by a stark landscape. Stones and ashes are all around, there are no colors besides gray, black and brown and the only vegetation is some scant bushes here and there. The atmosphere is almost extraterrestrial, but suddenly you turn your eyes around and see the magnificent view of the gulf of Naples. When you finally arrive at the summit of Vesuvius the panorama becomes really breath-taking. The beauty of the sea and the distant cities are just the background of the huge crater, with a depth of 300 meters and a rim about 500 meters long.
People can visit the crater during the whole year, also on Sundays, even though the opening hours may change from season to season. The only moment when is not possible to go on top of the Mount Vesuvius is on public holidays or in case of bad weather, for safety reasons.
Booking is not required but you need to buy a ticket on site. It costs 10 euros (usually for children the visit is for free) and includes a local volcanologist guide that will explain you everything about the volcano.
Since Vesuvius is 1282 meters high, it’s better if you bring with you the right equipment: a jacket to avoid the cold and the wind, stout shoes to face the path, sunglasses for the light. I also suggest taking with your binoculars to watch the spectacular panorama.
If you are looking for an exclusive adventure you can book an organized trip. There are many different agencies that sell packages with more specific benefits. It’s up to you to decide the solution that better suits you.
And now I give you a special final hint. During May and June the slopes of Vesuvius bloom with local flora. Doesn’t seem very suggestive of being on volcano covered with wild flowers ?