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Published: September 8th 2009
Mt. Vesuvius towers over the skyscrapers of Naples and is the only active volcano in mainland Europe. If it were to erupt, many lives would be lost along with their homes. The Italian government has tried to persuade residence to move away from the vicinity of the volcano with a relocation incentive of 30,000 Euros, but these incentives have not been successful. An eruption would be catastrophic for the 600,000 people residing within seven kilometers of the volcano. The last eruption occurred in 1944 and the current lull, the longest in the past 500 years, has scientists worried.
Grace and I decided to conquer this giant and climbed the 860 meter trail to the summit. The mere 860 meters wouldn’t be difficult if Grace’s flip flop had not broke. The few threads that were holding her poor sandal together, gave up and she had to push through, walking up awkwardly with her semi-functioning sandal. We finally reached the top and found ourselves amongst the clouds - 1281 meters high. The top of the mountain houses a crater filled with ash and vegetation. This crater would be filled with lava if it were nearing eruption. We enjoyed the breeze and cool
air for a while before we made our way down the volcano. Reaching the bottom, we investigated several possibilities for a temporary solution to fix Grace’s flip flop. None of the stores were selling sandals, or tape, or safety pins. We thought we might find a store near the train station that carried shoes. No luck - it was a Sunday and therefore most stores were closed. Mt. Vesuvius was the first part of our trip; we were still planning to explore Pompeii. Grace had to make the decision of going back to our hostel in Naples to grab another pair of flip flops or toughing-it-out with a broken sandal. She chose the latter, reasoning that it would be a waste of time to go to Naples and head back by train to Pompeii.
We jumped onto the Circumvesuviana (train) headed towards Pompeii to view one of the most important archaeological sites in Europe. The city dates back to 7th Century BC and at its prime, reached a population of 20,000 people. Mt. Vesuvius blew in 79 AD, burying the city under a layer of lapilli (burning pumice stone) and killing over 2000 people. Excavations have turned up numerous
artifacts, and have even produced molds of people buried alive. Walking through the city, I was amazed by the sheer size. Pompeii has several theaters, a network of cobble-stone streets, public bath houses, villas, temples, and even sex houses! Prostitution is considered one of the oldest professions in the world and there is strong evidence proving that prostitution was prevalent in the city. Buildings have entrances off the street leading to single rooms with a single stone bed which were used by sex workers to provide their services to paying customers.
The city exhumed an eerie feeling as we walked through more isolated areas - the main areas were filled with hundreds, if not thousands of other tourists. By the end of the day we were exhausted from all the walking and the heat/humidity. I was extremely impressed that Grace was able to survive with only one sandal. The next day we planned to head to the beach for a day of relaxation and to recoup from our Mt. Vesuvius/Pompeii visit.
Travel Logistics to Pompeii and Mt. Vesuvius
1. From the port of Naples you would have to take the R2 bus to get to Piazza
Garibaldi. There is a ticket machine next to the bus stop where you need change to purchase a ticket (1.10 euros)
2. Once you get to the piazza you'll have to walk across the entire piazza to get to the Central (train) Station.
3. Follow the signs for Circumvesuviana trains once inside the station.
4. Purchase your tickets after you follow the signs about ~6.00 euros round trip.
5. Take the train to Pompeii-Scavi-Villa dei Misteri train station, which takes 40 minutes to 1 hour.
6. Coming out of the train station, take the road to your right and flow the wall to the main entrance of Pompeii. Ticket for the site costs about 11.00 euros.
7. Take the train heading back to Naples
8. Get off at the Ercolano-Scavi (Mt. Vesuvius) train station.
9. Option 1: There were several guys on the steps of the train station soliciting a ride to Mt. Vesuvius. We ended up taking them because we were unsure of where we were going. I think the company is called Vesuvio Express and they run minibuses to the summit car park. It costs 10 euros for the ride and 6.50 euros for the entrance to Mt.
Vesuvius, a total of 16.50 euros. This trip takes a total of about 1.5 to 2 hours.
Option 2: There are only two other buses running at 8:25am and 12:45pm and returning at 1:55pm and 4:30pm. They depart from Via Panoramica (about 50m from the train station) and it will cost you ~8.00 euros for a 90 minute roundtrip. This doesn’t include the entrance fee of 6.50 euros.
10. Get back on the train to Naples, taking the R2 bus from the other side of the piazza and get off at the place to you caught the bus. Walk back to the Port.
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