From the underworld - Italy 4


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Europe » Italy » Campania » Mount Vesuvius
May 25th 2011
Published: October 7th 2011
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Vesuvius sits there like a sleeping giant or dragon waiting to erupt and belch out fire way above the Bay of Naples and the city itself. A malignant neighbour that you both worry about but need. We drove up to the base of the volcano passing buses on their way down full of tourists who had made their way to the top and were now on the return journey. Many people had been encouraged to move off the volcano since the last eruption and had left empty shells of houses. Other remaining families still eeked a living from the land or from running restaurants catering for the tourists who flocked to see the volcano. Half way up there was a car park with a small charge to park and a number of tacky outlets selling anything from cards to thimbles, from water to food and even an old man hiring out sticks made from tree branches. His charge was 1 euro and upon return of the walking stick he was giving out stones as souvenirs of the volcano. Not a bad way to make a living - sitting in the sun and talking to the intrepid walkers. The walk up wasn't as steep as I expected although the heat was oppressive. On the way there were stopping points from which you could see the Bay beneath and the sprawling metropolis of Naples. We were lucky that there was no mist surrounding the summit and we were able to see for miles. Upon arriving at the top I expected to look down on a boiling cauldron of steam, smells and bubbling from the underworld. Instead things were quiet, the ash thrown out from the last eruption had fallen back upon the caldera and plugged it preventing the escape of gases and smells. All traces of life capped in until the next eruption which was well overdue. Trees and shrubbery were in abundance at the bottom. It was both re-assuring and frightening to see the vulcanologists working on the summit, measuring its movements and making sure that if anything happened the inhabitants of the area would be moved out safely from the volcanic region.

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