Mt. Vesuvius is one of the most dangerous volcanoes on earth and also one of the most famous.It is situated in the southern part of italy,the closest city being Naples or Napoli(italian).I had started my journey from Rome at around 11 am in a regional train. It was an impromptu plan ,so had to opt for a cheaper train which took a longer time.Other faster trains are available which take much less time to travel from Rome to Naples. If planned well in advance,Italo,a privately run train service, offers good and fast train service at bargain price.
The regional train took almost 3hrs and at around 1:45 pm I reached the Napoli Centrale.
For visiting the Mt Vesuvius ,one needs to avail another train service called the "Circumvesuviana" from Naples.It is a privately run train service which goes around the Mt Vesuvius,thus the name circumvesuviana.
The train stop is below the Napoli Central station and is called Napoli Garibaldi. Basically the station is in the same area as the Napoli Central, just a level or two below it.To reach the Garibaldi station look for directions towards Stazion Garibaldi.As you come out of the Napoli Central station leaving the platforms behind you,take the escalator to go down one level.Once down look for the "Circumvesuviana" train direction. One needs to walk for a small distance through the underground passage to reach the turnstiles.Tickets can be bought from a tobacco shop downstairs or at a ticket counter close to the turnstiles of the Garibaldi station. There is also an information desk there.
Now,for going to Mt Vesuvius,there are two stops that you can get down at - Ercolano Scavi and Pompeii Scavi .The trains were not very comfortable ones and the fare was cheap.Usually these trains are very crowded,so beware of pickpockets.
As I had less time in hand I decided to get down at Ercolano Scavi(4 euros return ticket) It is the nearest station from the mountain and also nearer to the Garibaldi station(20 minutes) compared to Pompeii.But the travel options are more from Pompeii for the mountain(which is around 40 minutes from Garibaldi).From the Ercolano stop there was one reliable vendor,Vesuvio express,to take people to the foothills of the mountain. The vendor offers cabs for both the ongoing and return journey for 10 euros.And 10 euros more for entering the hiking trail to the crater.The cabs usually leave every 40 minutes or earlier if there are enough passengers.
Once I came out of the Ercolano Scavi station,the shop of the vendor was on the left.Luckily for me,there was a family already there.So the cab started immediately.
The journey to the the foothills took around 2o minutes through meandering narrow roads and green forests.Once at the parking at the foothills ,the driver told us to come back within 1 hour 15 minutes. I personally felt that the duration was less.So,discuss this at the Vesuvio express office in front of the driver asking for a longer time for the hike.
Do check out the temperature before starting the journey as sometimes the mountain top is colder compared to the town down.In that case plan your attire accordingly.But ,in my case I must say I felt like i was in a furnace as it was a bright sunny day in July.Carry a lot of drinking water as the hike is very steep and tiring. There are two shacks where you can buy water ,but for most part of the hike the terrain is very dry and desert like without any trees.The path to the top is very uneven and made of gravels. So,it is very essential to put on a good and comfortable pair of shoes.As i went in summer in the scorching heat ,I carried an umbrella to save myself from the sun's fury . If not an umbrella ,atleast carry a hat or a cap and apply a lot of sunscreen if you dont want a nice tan :).
The hike to the crater usually takes 30 minutes.For me it took much more time as I was already tired after the long journey from Rome. However ,once at the top the view is amazing.The whole Bay area and the islands,the azure sky and the torquoise sea makes up for the effort put into hiking up the rugged terrain.The crater in itself was an amazing one.There were two small shops selling souveniers.They even have a postal service so that you can immediately mail ur postcards to your beloved ones.Do buy one postcard atleast ,specially one with the whole crater from top.After spending sometime at the top ,it was time for me to start the return journey as the driver had already set the deadline.The downward walk took around 20 minutes but take care that you dont sprain your ankle in a hurry.The driver dropped us back to the Ercolano scavi statiom from where i took the train back to Naples.
This was my first visit to a volcano,and specially one with an Active status . It was a thrilling and very enjoyable experience which will remain etched in my memory.
View of the mountain from Napoli Port
View from the mountain top