KOSTAS and the yummy world

KOSTAS and the yummy world

Vesuvius

 

The mighty volcano

June 2018


Mount Vesuvius seen from Napoli.

Introduction


Mount Vesuvius (Vesuvio, in Italian) is probably the most famous volcano on Earth and is best known for its eruption in Roman times (24 August 79 AD) when Pompeii and Herculaneum were destroyed. The eruption left a large crater which has grown and shrunk with subsequent eruptions and can be visited today. Its last eruption occurred in 1944, and since then it is dormant.  Vesuvius is an active volcano and may erupt any time in the near future.

Conquering Vesuvius....

The caldera.

 

Over the last few centuries, Vesuvius has erupted at intervals ranging from 18 months to 7½ years, making the current lull the longest in 500 years.

Its lack of eruption may merely indicate a build-up of pressure, which may result in a more explosive next eruption, posing a lethal hazard to over 500,000 residents living in the same place that got destroyed in 79AD.   

At the top of the volcano is a crater rim that affords a view of the caldera and into the crater.  Besides that, you will have (only on clear days, but the mountain is notoriously covered in fog or clouds) a stunning panorama overseeing the Bay of Naples, Naples, Capri, Ischia, the edge of the Amalfi Coast and more.

View from the summit towards Sorrento.

Fresco of Bacchus and Agathodaemon with Mount Vesuvius, as seen in Pompeii's House of the Centenary.

Mythology


Vesuvius has a long historic and literary tradition. It was considered a divinity of the genius type (somehing like protective angel) at the time of the eruption of AD 79: it appears under the inscribed name Vesuvius as a serpent in the decorative frescos of many household shrines (lararia), surviving from Pompeii. An inscription from Capua “IOVI VESVVIO” (Jupiter Vesuvius) indicates that he was worshipped as a power of Jupiter.  Mount Vesuvius was regarded by the Romans as being devoted to the hero and demigod Hercules.

According to the historian Diodorus Siculus, Hercules, "in the performance of his labors, passed through the country of nearby Cumae on his way to Sicily and found there a place called the 'Phlegraean Plain' (Φλεγραῖον πεδίον-plain of fire), ... from a hill which anciently vomited out fire ... now called Vesuvius... it was inhabited by bandits, 'the sons of the Earth', who were giants... with the assistance of the gods he pacified the region and went on".

An epigram by the poet Martial in 88 AD suggests that both Venus, patroness of Pompeii, and Hercules were worshipped in the region devastated by the eruption.

thumbsdownthumbsdownthumbsdownAs I have written many times, this is southern Italy and everything is made complicated for the autonomous traveler.  They do this on purpose so you use private companies and travel agencies to visit attractions, instead of using public transportation and other public services.  In the internet you will read lots about how to get up to the volcano on public bases, etc.  Forget all these because most probably you will waste lots of time and certainly you’ll get so frustrated and pissed off at the end.

Mount Vesuvius on the map.

Practicalities


Climbing on the mountain is hassle free if you follow my advice here. 

thumbsupThe young, fit and energetic ones, as well as those who have plenty of time, can do a 6km hike to the summit along the winding roads. Get a local bus from Ercolano to San Vitto, which is closer to the crater, and from there to walk to the summit. You can enjoy the views of the national park and enjoy the local wildlife. 

thumbsupFor the rest of us, the easiest way is to take a bus either from Pompei or Ercolano. 

"On a clear day you can see for ever".

The local bus company, EavBus/ Sita operates a timetabled bus service between Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius. The same buses are used on this route as any other public bus service in and around Pompeii.  The bus service runs every 50 minutes (give or take) through the day. The bus stop is on the Piazza Anfiteatro, immediately outside the entrance to Pompeii ruins (Ingresso Piazza Anfiteatro). Note, this is not the entrance by the Pompeii Circumvesuviana Station, where most tourists arrive, but is within the town center of Pompei.  The touts that roam the streets pushing tours to Mount Vesuvius may tell you the public bus only runs at the height of the summer season very infrequently…don't believe them.  

'Vesuvio Express' office at Ercolano Scavi train station.

thumbsdownTo tell you the truth, I did not even try to do this because it doesn’t worth the hassle. 

thumbsupI went for the easiest and fastest way, which is the bus from Ercolano.  As you exit Ercolano Scavi Circumvesuviana train station to a small square, on your left hand you will see the Vesuvio Express office.  There is no way to miss it. 

At Vesuvio Express offer a bus ride up and down the mountain for €10 each person. For €20, they will offer a ticket with entry to the crater. Please get your entrance ticket here, do not expect to buy one on the summit.

For trains from Napoli to Ercolano Scavi and to Pompei Scavi check my page: 

http://www.kostas66.com/440084471 

Vesuvio Express offers a return bus ride to the mountain for €10 each person. For €20, you get also a ticket to enter to the crater area. Please get your entrance ticket here, do not expect to buy one on the summit. 

Typically, when a bus is full it departs.  The bus drops you off at a big car park, some meters away from the entrance to the summit and the crater.

The bus after exiting Ercolano enters into the “Parco Nazionale del Vesuvio” and through a woodland arrives at the main car park (at 1000m altitude).

The car park where you get off the bus to continue on foot for the summit.

thumbsdownThere is a box next to  the bus driver, calling for a tip!  I really do not understand why I have to tip someone to do his job, but that is another story. 

thumbsdownThe driver (either you have tipped him or not) will wait for all of you at the car park (at exactly the same point he dropped you off) for 90 minutes, which is generally about right. Personally, I would like to have more time to enjoy the views.  If you miss your bus, you can take the next one down, but you have to pay the full €10 price again.  

thumbsupThe ride is short (30 min) and pleasant.  

thumbsdownAt some point, halfway up, the driver stops the bus and urges people to take pictures of the Gulf of Napoli.  I really do not understand why he does that... in 10 minutes you will be on the top of the mountain where the views are much better. Maybe, this way the tip is justified?   

thumbsdownthumbsdownI have read in the internet some really stupid comments, of how dangerous this road is, how much they were scared, how bad drivers are in Italy, etc… people can get so strange and over the top sometimes. 

thumbsupThe road is narrow, but well paved and well maintained and certainly you do not hang over cliffs at any point of the trip.  My dear travelers you have to try somewhere else for that “vivere pericolosamente” experience.

The road from Ercolano to Vesuvius.

thumbsdownAt the car park, where the bus drops you off, there are tacky souvenir shops and a café where you can rest... if you manage to find a free chair.  

thumbsdownthumbsdownthumbsdownThe most ridiculous thing of all, though, is the toilets. One should expect that for such a popular tourist destination, they would have built proper public toilets.  Well, wrong...there are some filthy, portable toilets just outside the entrance to the crater path. These toilets are run by a rude, middle aged man to whom you have to pay €1.  A real disgrace for the area and the country in general!

The toilets at the entrance of the Vesuvius summit.

The entrance of the trail going up to the crater (top). The path from the car park to the entrance (middle). Good shoes for walking and some brooms to clean them (bottom).

thumbsupYou pass through a souvenir shop to enter the path.  This is supposed to be the ticket check-in. A lady sitting on a step will ask to see your ticket. From there onwards you hike up the path to the caldera.

thumbsdownYou read everywhere in the net that you can borrow a walking stick there.  I do not know what borrowing means, but someone will remind you to tip for that borrowing. 

thumbsdownthumbsdownThe next ridiculous thing you will see on your way back is this:  as the path is covered with dust, your shoes will get very dirty for sure.  So, on your exit you will find a metal tray and in it 2-3 brooms (yes, the kind of brooms we use to clean the floors in our house, without the stick, though) for you to brush your shoes.  Again, these are free, but you have to tip.  

thumbsupAfter going through the ticket check, it is a 20 min grind up a wide path (about 1 km long) leading to the 1170m mark. From there you can walk around the crater rim.

thumbsdownKeep on looking at your watch, because you have only 90min to go up and down before your bus departs. 

thumbsupWear good walking shoes as the trail is covered with dust and rock pebbles which make it slippery. 

thumbsupthumbsupthumbsupThe excitement of looking at the crater of this infamous volcano is big and the views are just stanning.  The volcanic rocks and colorful lava layers are beautiful, as well as the local flowers that grow on the slopes.

thumbsupthumbsupthumbsupI believe though, the most interesting of all is to sit on a rock and watch people passing by.  There is a procession of people of all ages and sizes: fit seniors skip up the hill leaving out of shape teenagers in their wake, small children seem to have little problem, sweaty people, panting people, ladies with inappropriate shoes and clothes, Indians with umbrellas to protect them from the merciless sun, people prone to take selfies, people who have to see this attraction before they fly to the sky to meet with their Creator, groups of people wearing all the same t-shirts, etc. 

The remains of the funicular railway built in 1870, and which operated until the volcano's last major eruption in 1944, can be seen on the top.

The song ‘Funiculì, Funiculà’ was written by composer Peppino Turco, to commemorate the opening of this railway.

An old picture of the funicular going up to the summit and what is left of it today (right).

‘Funiculì, Funiculà’, sang by the 3 Tenors.

Souvenr shop at the summit.

 

thumbsdownThere are a couple of huts selling cheap and sometimes bizarrely inappropriate souvenirs and expensive drinks around the rim.

thumbsupTake a bottle of water with you to avoid these excessive charges.

Enjoy the natural beauty of this worldly wonder and remember RUN if the ground starts shaking….

A statuette put in a niche by the trail.