“In the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain.” ― Jack Kerouac
Do one better and climb a goddamn volcano with your dog! We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to spend an afternoon on the beast itself, Mt. Vesuvius, the reason why Pompeii fell hard to it’s knees and brought all life to a standstill in 79AD. Too heavy to take in? You can get an ice cream at the top!
There is no escaping Mt.Vesuvius, it’s presence looms over the landscape no matter the direction you are heading in, rising up in front of you through the front windshield, or watching you through your rear view mirror as you speed along the autostrade.
After a morning of exploring the streets and houses of Pompeii that were once covered by volcanic ash, we jumped in the car and headed 10 minutes up the highway to explore this mighty hill. After coming off the main road, we drove another 20 minutes up the side of the volcano and arrived at the parking area, basically a side road with cars parked all along the shoulder. Here is where the adventure begins. You can can start walking up the continuation of the main road to the top parking lot (reserved for buses) or take a shuttle – it’s about 45 minutes to walk and we decided on the shuttle as it was a little late in the day and we were keen to drive back along the Amalfi Coast in the daylight. Don’t worry, I haven’t mislead you, there was still a big climb for Tikka to do.
The shuttle is just 5 min, with a quick stop to buy your park ticket and it drops you off at the base of the crater portion of the volcano, the steep path right in front of you, and a couple souvenir stalls of course…
The air was fresh and cool and the crowds were manageable – very busy on the wide path taking you up, up, up to the top, but no one really got in your way. There were all types of people making the hike – locals and tourists from all over, and every age imaginable. Families with little kids being carried and adventurers over 75 that left us in their volcanic dust. There were even a few gals carefully hanging onto their boyfriends as they made the climb in their heels, the bravest of all.
And one Canadian dog, happy to be out in the air and getting some really good exercise.
The walk from this top parking lot is about 30 minutes and it’s safe but a steady, reasonably steep climb without many switchbacks. Nothing to scramble over or watch your step with, the path is well maintained and little cars go up it to reach the concession stands at the top. Take it at your own pace and you’ll make it, no one is judging if you stop for a lot of breaks. Ok, Tikka might, she was all go!
The views you are rewarded with are as you would expect, breathtaking. Naples is laid out in front of you and as you reach the crater you have a clear view of the Bay of Naples and the sky and water mesh together in a big, blue painting.
The path continues half way around the lip of the crater and there is still steam rising from the fissures. Don’t expect a lake of bubbling magma as you peer over the edge, it’s pretty much a big hole with a lot of rocks and gravel, kinda like a quarry. We spent some time enjoying the vistas and chatting with a few people that were interested in us having a dog with us, had an ‘almost’ cold beer bought from the concession at the top, grabbed some water for Tikka and then started to make our way back down.
Quite an amazing day, seeing the cause and effect of how a volcano took out an entire population. Here is a link to the Vesuvius Park website to plan your own volcano outing with your dog. http://www.vesuviopark.it/pnv/home/index.asp
Next on our list is Ravello on the Amalfi Coast, a real treat for 2 and 4 legged travelers. Coming soon!