Mount Vesuvius is best known for its eruption in 79 AD that led to the burying and destruction of the Roman cities of Pompeii, Herculaneum, and several other settlements.
Vesuvius has erupted many times since 79 AD. In fact, it is the only volcano on the European mainland to have erupted within the last hundred years.
Today, it is regarded as one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world because of the population of 3,000,000 people living in the surrounding area. It is the most densely populated volcanic region in the world.
Now, you can hike up the mountain and explore its sides and crater. The mountain is 4,000 feet high. The entire crater is Lava rock and it’s pretty freaking cool.
I am not going to lie, the hike is tough-even for me, an avid hiker! It is kind of like climbing up a sand dune because you slide a little backwards with each step. Nonetheless, it’s a MUST DO.
Here is how the trek to Vesuvius works:
After arriving in Pompeii, you take a Trolly-like bus to the base of the mountain. Watch out, the seats are limited and the handles are very very dirty if you’re standing! Just a tip, bring wet wipes! From there, the group meets a sort of military bus that takes us up 3,000 meters. The last 1,000 meters is for us pedestrians to hike up.
Although it was a foggy day (due to the thick marine sky), the view was very very cool and a once in a lifetime experience.
Something that I did not expect was the little cafes and souvenir shops at the top of the mountain. My family and I decided to do the hike and sights on our own, but in addition to the cafe and souvenir shops, you can also get hooked up with an official tour guide offered in most common languages!
Just a couple facts, both Pompeii and Vesuvius are in the Campania region of Italy just outside of the city of Naples. Originally, Pompeii and other cities destroyed in the eruption were buried under 20 feet of ash. Today, the city of Pompeii is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
In my opinion, the city of Pompeii is very run down and dirty. Other than see the ruins (which are very cool) it is not much of a site. It was very different than other parts of Italy-or should I say the more “glamorized” parts of Italy. Without the tourism, the town would be essentially nothing. There was a lot of trash everywhere which always is a wake up call for me. It’s hard to see such natural beauty, like Vesuvius and the Ocean, and then see heaps of garbage making up our land. It put things into perspective of how diverse the Campania territory is.
Go to Pompeii strictly for the ruins. It does not take a whole day, maybe just half a day to do both Pompeii and Vesuvius. Both trips are also rather inexpensive when compared to American tourism. As for my final piece of advice…eat lunch somewhere else-all the food there is very “americanized” and low quality. If you’re feeling very proactive-you can even pack a yummy snack & lunch!
The ruins themselves are HUGE. I had no clue…but literally imagine this “museum” being an entire city. It isn’t just a couple of things, it is literally the entire ancient town as ruins. I would suggest getting a guide book or map or even a tour guide. My family and I were completely overwhelmed when we went-we didn’t know what anything was and there were no descriptive signs. We just kind of looked at the sites and guessed!
In case you’re wondering about transportation to and from Pompeii and Vesuvius, I will provide a brief explanation below:
From Sorrento, you go back to the train station that you most likely took to Sorrento from naples. The Train is called the “Circumvesuviana” (Note: it is pronounced CHIR-CUM-VES-OO-VEE-AHNA). From there, you get off at the Pompeii stop. It takes about 30-45 minutes. Often, the train is crowded, so look up the departure times beforehand and get there early!
Thanks for reading and Ciao Ciao for now!