Mount Vesuvius is one of only two active volcano's in Continental Europe and stands about 1281 meters tall, with a symmetrical central cone and steep wooden slopes.
Vesuvius, also called Mount Vesuvius or Italian Vesuvio, active volcano that rises above the Bay of Naples on the plain of Campania in southern Italy.
Its western base rests almost upon the bay. The height of the cone in 2013 was 4,203 feet (1,281 meters), but it varies considerably after each major eruption.
At about 1,968 feet (about 600 meters), a high semicircular ridge, called Mount Somma, begins, girding the cone on the north and rising to 3,714 feet (1,132 meters).
Between Mount Somma and the cone is the Valle del Gigante (Giant’s Valley). At the summit of the cone is a large crater about 1,000 feet (about 305 meters)
deep and 2,000 feet (about 610 meters) across; it was formed in the eruption of 1944. More than two million people live in the vicinity of Vesuvius and on its lower slopes.
Vesuvius probably originated somewhat less than 200,000 years ago. Although a relatively young volcano, Vesuvius had been dormant for centuries before
the great eruption of 79 CE that buried the cities of Pompeii, Oplontis, and Stabiae under ashes and lapilli and the city of Herculaneum under a mud flow.
The National park
The whole of the Mount Vesuvius National Park is both beautiful and productive, dotted with small farms and wineries planted with heirloom varietals boasting a unique terror.
Visiting the crater is a must, and tourists from across the globe climb the path each year to peer into its depths.
The Volcanological Observatory, founded in 1841, and the official Mountain Guide Association, founded in 1855, have expert guides able to accompany tourists
up the final stretch of the mountain trail. Still today, the most popular route among visitors is the trail up the highest reaches of the cone to the rim of the crater,
a stretch that is not particularly difficult, can be undertaken by anyone, and does not require hiking experience.
The trail is about 4 km up and back, with a change in altitude of about 140 meters and an average slope of 14%; the trail reaches 1,170 meters above sea level.
The Vesuvius Observatory is the surveillance centre for monitoring the three volcanic areas of Campania, Italy: Mount Vesuvius, the Phlegrean Fields and Ischia.
Founded in 1841 on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius by Ferdinand II of Bourbon, King of the Two Sicilies, it is the oldest volcanology institute in the world.
Its current operative center is based in Naples, hosting an important section of the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology.
How to prepare for Mount Vesuvius
It's not at all unsafe to visit Mount Vesuvius but before you go you should be prepared. This is not Disneyland, vehicles do not go to the top but
will drop you off at an altitude of around 1,000m. The trail to the top climbs just under another 200m. For most people in reasonable condition it's no problem but
if you are not 100% fit or have a medical problem you may want to take advice.The most common mistake by tourists is simply not to come prepared.
Many turn up in T-shirts not realising it is a lot colder at this altitude than on the coast. You may need rain gear, you may need a hat,
sun screen and lots of water - just make sure you arrive fully prepared with layers of clothing.
Estimated time: all day