If you are like me, you are driven to explore. You save your money not for trips to resorts
but for trips into the wild. You look for adventure no matter where you are, and when you are on an excursion, everythig else fades into the background. That is how I felt staying in
the shadow of Vesuvius, and I knew that before our trip was out, Kess and I would have to pay the mountain a visit.
Climbing Vesuvius is actually a relatively simple task that any traveler of average health can accomplish. The volcano has been transformed into a rather attractive tourist destination, and while we typically try to avoid the tourist traps, this one wasn’t overbearing enough to keep us away. It cost 10 euro per person to access the top, and I thought that it was reasonable considering the good state of repair that the walkways and handrails were in. If you are planning to visit, there are a wide range of options to get you to the top – you can take a train to the station at the foot of the mountain and ride a shuttle or hitch a ride on one of the may taxis in the area almost to the top where a short hike (about 850 meters I’d guess) will bring you face to
face with the caldera of Vesuvius.
*Travel Tip* – I love TripAdvisor. I consult with it on a regular basis and often upload my own experiences as well to contribute to other s looking into travel in whatever region I find myself in. Check out some more information about traveling to Vesuvius HERE
But enough about logistics, let me get into our own adventure. I didn’t feel like walking a mile to the train depot, so we called our trusty Hotel Taxi man and he took us straight to what he called the “climber’s landing”. If you’ve been following the blog, this is the same taxi driver that picked us up late from the airport due to the nasty accident that slowed traffic for quite some time the day of our arrival. And its the same taxi driver that was a professional at using all parts of the road, especially those parts that fell outside the lines and demarcations that defined his particular lane. In short, any ride in his taxi resulted in elevated adrenaline levels, perspiration, and multiple outbursts that the average American may safely classify into the “road rage” category. The ride to Vesuvius was no exception, especially considering the road up the mountain twists and turns its way through deep ravines, winds around sheer overhangs, and the fact that the road consists of only one lane in either direction. With the number of folks that want to see the volcano, there were quite a few tour busses that were struggling to make the hair pin turns fast enough for our driver. Of course, a little old thing like double yellow lines didn’t slow down our taxi, and at the first sight of slowing traffic he was quick to pull into the oncoming lane and weave his way through those drivers that were slowing him down. After five or six blind curves we took in the wrong lane, it became routine and I stopped keeping track. Or maybe I blocked the rest from my mind to protect my sanity, I don’t remember. He may have been slightly crazy, but he was a heck of a driver.
Once we reached the top and exited the death taxi, 20 euros bought us our tickets and up we went on foot for the last stretch. Although I have climbed many mountains, this was the first volcano I had climbed and I was taken aback at the stark beauty of the ash and pumice that carpeted the ground. The pathway wound its way almost all the way around the mountain as it rose to the summit, and as we followed it we were treated to some spectacular views of Naples between cloud formations obscuring our view. After about 20 minutes, we summited the volcano and were rewarded with breathtaking views of the caldera. The stones had changed from a grey color at the beginning of our hike to a reddish hue, and the sides of the volcanos throat where absolutely astonishing. Just when we thought it couldn’t get any better, great clouds of steam began issuing forth from the bottom of the caldera at seemingly random intervals, and as they floated away from the volcano we stood there awestruck at the mighty power that lie slumbering beneath our feet.
*Travel Tip* – Climbing Vesuvius will expose you to the winds at the summit that can be quite chilly. In order to better enjoy your hike, bring a light jacket to wear once you summit the volcano and begin to explore.
The top of the volcano featured a few souvenir stands and we made sure to grab a few
postcards and a mug for our travel collection while we were at the top. I also grabbed a pin for my collection, and I have found that no matter where we go, pins are always sold in the shops with fairly unique designs. While I don’t recommend buying a lot of tourist junk, I would recommend all travelers find something that they look for at each and every destination as a physical memento to accompany your memories.
The trek down the mountain was uneventful. As the day progressed towards evening the clouds rolled in thick, and we were unable to see much of the view that the area is famous for. Our trip down the road was much less exciting than the trip up, and we had time to get to know our driver a little better, which was great. He told us he’d been driving for years, and he thoroughly enjoyed meeting all the travelers that had come through his
taxi in the many years he’d been servicing area hotels. When we got back to the hotel we decided we would eat in the Hotel Forum’s Restaurant and relax for the rest of the evening. After some great food, excellent drinks, and wonderful conversation with some of the British and Spanish quests we were sharing the grounds with, we retired for the night and slept like stones.
Check back soon for our next two days of the trip including a tour of the Naples Archeological Museum and then our trip to the Amalfi Coast and the Isle of Capri! We hope to hear from our readers, so comment your thoughts as you read, we’d love to interact with our audience.
-Wander freely, and may we meet on the road as friends.