A must-do when visiting Pompeii. Don’t leave it out! Probably a lot of people just go to the ruins and gaze up at the intimidating shadow in the distance, but we think it’s essential to actually hike the cause for such destruction. At our camp, they offered a shuttle service for 12 Euros, but we decided to just drive ourselves. We had learned that you have to park and then walk the rest of the way. Sort of. It didn’t quite turn out that way.
Well, we did park! That happened. But what we weren’t expecting was that we had to take a shuttle bus up the mountain. The shuttle bus parks, lets you off, and then you hike the remainder. We were a little angry with having to pay for a shuttle bus, especially at 22 Euros a person (includes a tour guide). But, at that point, we had no choice unless we wanted to turn around and skip Mt. Vesuvius altogether. So, the decision was made- we go!
We scarfed down some last minute croissants and oranges, laced up our hiking boots and stood waiting to board the shuttle bus. We waited with an extremely nice family from Maryland. The father was in the Navy and had arranged a flight for his wife and two children to escape to Italy for a week. While traveling for long periods of time, it’s really great being able to talk to other friendly Americans. Just a slight touch of home is all we need every now and then.
We were given our tickets and instructions to board the massive buses. We’re pretty sure this exact vehicle was also used to cross rigged terrain on Mars. We didn’t even get situated when a gate was opened and a flood of people rushed to the bus. And here we thought we had our own private tour…
We made our way up the mountain, maneuvering around forests of trees. Ryann’s ears popped as they climbed elevation. The view of Pompeii and the other seaside cities below was stunning. The ocean sparkled, the blues of the water and the sky mixing to look like sail boats were flying above. It was beautiful. This backdrop provided an extraordinary contrast with the volcanic rock later on in the hike.
Ready for the Incline
We arrived and everyone unloaded. We had about two hours until we needed to meet back. So, we took off, hoping to be first to witness the volcano in the morning. The paved sidewalk turned into loose volcanic rock gravel, which proved difficult to climb in, but fun to slide down in. Along the way, we met numerous lizards scurrying away into the brave fauna that grew, determined enjoy the fresh air and view despite the nearby danger. At the top, there is a stand for souvenirs (of course), pizza and wine tasting. Also, if you’d like to purchase a “legalize marijuana” decorated rock, it’s there piled with other unrelated items.
The volcano itself is interesting. Our guide must’ve thought so too, considering he talked towards the volcano with us behind him. But what we did hear was that there are actually two funnels to the volcano. The one we arrived at was the “new” funnel, which was created by the 1944 eruption. The “old” funnel was a short walk away around the mouth of the volcano, which was now covered in plants and another souvenir/food hut. It didn’t look like a real funnel. It is sort of insane to think that humans think it’s a smart idea to visit, work on and in a way, challenge the volcano’s risks. But who are we to talk? We did it too. Also, there is a lot of respect and esteem for those that study the volcanic activity of Vesuvius.
Once we stared long enough at the view, both funnels, and zigzagged our way around the French school groups, we made our way back to the bus. We thought it lacked information- we know that it’s long overdue to erupt, but posting a few signs of information doesn’t take too much! The price of the shuttle tour wasn’t justified in our experiences, but if we did actually hike what we were driven past, we probably would’ve paid the same amount.
So until you get the chance to visit, we hope Mount Vesuvius plays nice!