When Fábio suggested to me that we should climb the Vesuvius, I was flooded by many emotions; I was hysteric, because since I was little I always wanted to visit all the volcanoes in the world (crazy kid for sure!), but I was also panicking, because I wasn’t visiting Naples to die, “I still have so much to accomplish! I don’t want to dieee!”. As any rational person would do, I went on to find all information about the Vesuvius. I found out about how dangerous it is, but also how it is the most well studied and monitored volcano in the world, and so I said to myself: “c’mon Jessica, don’t be such a wuss!” so it was settled (after 6 or 7 hours of research.. easy!); we were going to visit the scary Vesuvius.
It was finally here, the day we would climb mount Vesuvius.. with the sun shining more than ever. We took the shuttle bus from Naples that takes you up to the base, at 1000m height, with the remaining 200m being on foot (I hope you didn’t think I would climb the whole think, right?). The bus was empty when we entered and would remain so, with just us and the super friendly Italian driver that didn’t speak a word of English. We tried to understand each other and with our Portuguese, his Italian and lots of gestures we got by well. Although I probably only understood 40% of what he was saying, I was always smiling and nodding, but then it occurred to me that maybe he was telling a sad story… oh well, better look out the window and take some blurry pictures!
The bus went from Naples trough the highway until San Sebastian al Vesuvio, always honking for no apparent reason, honking because the traffic was slow, honking because a pretty lady was passing by, honking to say hi to every other person, even honking to the police! How can you not love this place? And we went honking and laughing all the way up until the volcano. We are now getting closer and closer to the big scary mountain that looked so far away just 15 minutes ago, and now it is actually here, and you can actually touch it.
We leave the main road, enter a small and narrow one, where definitely 2 cars wouldn’t fit, but our mini-bus can… and the real drive up begins. The driver keeps telling us jokes, pointing to statues by the road until all the way up, but suddenly I am not able to smile anymore. I start looking through the window and I am now able to see the pit. He drives fast and the curves are tight, and abruptly the landscape turns from beautiful and joyful green tones to dark and sad blackish branches. The floor is made of black rocks resembling lava waves and the mood quickly changes as we approach our final stop.
As we arrive and leave the bus, dry cold wind embraces our bodies; we can no longer see the sun, it’s now behind the great Vesuvius. We pay our tickets and now our real climb is about to start. We give hands, but we don’t talk much, the silence here is overwhelming. We see no one besides us, is it too early to be here? Maybe in winter you should not go up? Maybe because a disaster might happen? While these thoughts haunt me, Fabio is taking selfies with Naples in the background! Oh well, we just keep on climbing, surrounded by stones made up from lava, the smooth and steep dark hill and, minutes later, we reach the first stop.
And OMG… there is a souvenir shop here? Really? So close to the crater of this huge and dangerous volcano? Music pumping loudly, a guy using a drill on the wall… “Oh! This is safe after all! I mean, they would never build a shop here, if it wasn’t safe right?”
We keep walking and there it is; the wide and astounding crater of the Vesuvius. Fog or smoke emerging from the walls and you can even feel warmth, which was actually good, as it was really cold up there! A picture so majestic but also so sad and frightening! You could see where previously a cable-car used to be, attached to the mountain before the last eruption and then destroyed by it. All the time I was thinking that maybe it was my last day alive, but I am a drama-queen! Nothing happened, it was all safe.
There are actually even more souvenir shops along the way around the crater, some of them closed as it was winter. There were even small cars passing by, driven by the mountain guides, making U-turns up there, really close to the edge. So if you are worried about something, don´t be! And if you hear strange noises coming from the crater, also don’t worry, it might be just shots from a nearby village, some usual Mafia thing (yeah, that happened! Thank God we saw it on the news because I was convinced it was some kind of earthquake!).
After all those emotions and adventure to get to the top, we just enjoyed calmly the endless views to Naples, the sea and to Capri, even the ruins of Pompeii were visible. Soon, we felt happy and relaxed, a good thing after busy and lively Naples. Was it the lack of oxygen up there? Maybe, or maybe it was the sense of being on top of the world, far away from all of it. Whatever it was, we strongly recommend this experience, for us, it was unforgettable.
By Fabio and Jessica.
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