After hearing so much about “the Mountain” during our time in Naples, it was great to get out there and explore Mount Vesuvius on foot. The volcano definitely has had an impact on the city and the locals’ day-to-day way of life, along with the history and folklore of the culture. Our local guide, Nadia, explained that Mount Vesuvius is overdue for an eruption, but the locals embrace the looming danger and live by the phrase “carpe diem!”
We drove up to the volcano on a tiny, winding road with Pepe, our trusty bus driver, honking as we rounded the hairpin turns to warn anyone coming the other way. Then, we set out for our first official walk of the trip.
Mount Vesuvius walk
Location: Mount Vesuvius
Distance: 1 mile
Time: 2 hours, including our trek up and down the mountain (with plenty of time for pictures and exploring!)
Terrain: The path was steep on gravely terrain. There were railings along the side and scenic spots to stand along the edge of the path to rest for a minute and soak in the spectacular views of the Bay of Naples. While the way up the volcano was more strenuous, the walk down was a little trickier because the volcanic rock felt like gravel beneath our feet. Overall, the walk was on the difficult side (it is up a volcano, after all!) but our whole group did great and we all made it safely to the top.
Best view: When you are near the top of the volcano, you overlook all of Naples, the surrounding bay, the island of Capri and the dotted coastline of Sorrento. If you look closer to the volcano itself, there are clear lava paths leading from the crater that were left over from the 1944 eruption.
Favorite moment: When I noticed steam rising out from several small holes in the crater.
After our Mount Vesuvius Walk, we grabbed lunch and headed to Pompeii to explore the city that the Mountain buried with over 22 feet of earth and ash. The ruins are remarkable—I had no idea how expansive they were! I had visited the Roman Forum during my time in Rome and was expecting a similar sight, but Pompeii has the ruins of an entire commercial city. So far, archaeologists have excavated 70% of the city, which means there is still more to uncover.
To me, the most interesting aspect of the day was learning how much of Pompeii is similar to today’s cities. Even though the ruins date back some 2,000 years, you can still find a market and bank (complete with security boxes of gold coins), streets with sidewalks, restaurants and bakeries with ovens similar to today’s pizza ovens, a gambling hall where perfectly preserved dice were found and even a red light district.
Katie is making her way around the Amalfi Coast on foot. Follow along as she blogs about her tour!