Mount Vesuvius Volcano
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Mount Vesuvius Volcano

Vesuvius National Park is home to perhaps one of the most famous volcanoes of all time. Following the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD - ash and lava poured down onto the surrounding cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum, tragically killing all who resided there but well preserving their remains, even till this day. A visit to this spectacular natural wonder and its neighbouring towns is the highlight of any Italian trip and is sure to be a learning experience for anyone.


Mt Vesuvius Facts

Below you'll a few facts about Mount Vesuvius that will be handy when exploring this amazing destination.

  • The name of Vesuvius Volcano comes from Ves, which is what Zeus - the king of all Greek gods was also know as. So, what does Vesuvius mean exactly? - It means "son of Ves", namely Hercules who was also known as Vesouvios, which was altered into Vesuvius. 
  • Vesuvius mountain is around 17,000 years old and believed to have started its formation during the collapse of Mount Somma's caldera and grown incrementally over the years with many eruptions that followed.

  • Mount Vesuvius Volcano actually consists of two montains: Vesuvius and Somma. They are easy to tell apart because Somma is lower - standing at 1,132 m above sea level, while Vesuvius' peak is at 1,281 m.
  • Aside from the Mount Vesuvius eruption on August 24 - 79 AD, that killed about 16,000 people in Pompeii and Herculaneum there were at least 7 other major eruptions of this complex stratovolcano. These catastrophic eruptions sent liquid rock and toxic gasses down the the surrounding hills at speeds of up to 100 km/h. The exact toll of casualties from all the eruptions is unknown. 
  • Eruption warnings are usually shown in the form of a series of earthquakes in the surrounding area. The most devastating one of these quakes took place in 62 AD and the estimated magnitude was between 5 and 6. But mother nature didn't stop there, a tsunami followed and the death toll from the disasters was in the thousands - exact number was never determined. 
  • Thanks to the hot ash casts and pumice covering the perished inhabitants of Pompeii & Herculaneum - archeologists could make up their faces and the clothes they were wearing which helped learn more about the history of these ancient cities.
  • During the worst Mount Vesuvius eruption in 79 AD, the volcano spewed 1,500,000 tons of hot lava every single second. Its rocks have been found as far as present day Istanbul, about 1,500 km away and these rocks are believed to have come from the eruption of year 472.
  • Mount Vesuvius Volcano is considered dormant but still the most dangerous in the world. It had claimed 3,000 lives in December of 1631, and about 100 people in April of 1906 in many surrounding villages

More About Vesuvius Volcano

The city of Pompeii is an excellently preserved ancient Roman town and is definitely worth a visit. It is recommended that you allocate at least a few hours, if not all day, for strolling through its cobblestone streets. A guided tour is best for this site as there are very few descriptions within the city walls. A tour guide can best explain all of the different sites and provide a brief history on them, making for a much more enriching experience. 

The city of Herculaneum is another exquisite preserved ancient Roman town, located on the outskirts of the base of Mount Vesuvius. When the volcano erupted in 79 A.D. boiling mud and lava swept through the town, encasing everything within and conserving it. For a true look at what Roman life was like, a visit to Herculaneum will tell a story that no other location can. 

If you are the adventurous type - the Vesuvius backpack trail might be just the thing, and viewing the volcano's crater up close will be an experience that can't be forgotten. A Mount Vesuvius tour which will take you up to the crest of the volcano is about a 20 minute hike. It is highly recommended that you wear good hiking shoes for this walk. Once at the top you will be treated to breathtaking views of the surrounding area. You can also partake in a three hour hike around the crater rim of one of the world’s most dangerous volcanoes. 

When travelling to Mount Vesuvius, one of the easiest ways to reach this destination is by train. The Circumvesuviana (a railway company) runs out of Naples and services the surrounding areas around Mount Vesuvius. It services both the Pompeii and Herculaneum ruins and also travels to Sorrento. This convenient service is both a fast and cost effective travel method to visit these areas. 

As mentioned before, Mount Vesuvius is currently a dormant volcano but it is still considered to be active. Its last eruption was in 1944 and there is currently an evacuation plan in place, if another eruption seemed eminent. If this volcano were to erupt again, it would affect close to 2.5 million people. Due to the violent eruptions that shadow its past, it makes for an exciting stop on your Italy tour. Whether you are interested in the historical sites that have been preserved by its ash and lava flows, or if you come seeking adventure, Mount Vesuvius has something to please every traveler. 

Map of Mount Vesuvius & Train Tips

Below you'll find a map of Mount Vesuvius Volcano park & vicinity with nearby train stations, popular attractionslodging options and much more. Reaching this destination by train is easy from main cities like Rome, Naples or Sorrento to local stations like Ercolano Scava or Pompeii. Refer to the Italy train map for an overall glimpse of the country's railway system.

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