The continuous rumbles of our overnight ferry finally gave way to a great gliding groan, and with it we knew the Port of Naples was close. Dawn was still an hour away and outside the nearing lights of the city were glistening orange. Yet beyond the urban melee my eyes focused in on the dim outline of something far more imposing, strange and majestic – Mount Vesuvius.

Naples wouldn’t be Naples without this ever present reminder of danger and destruction lurking powerfully just outside it. Wherever one goes in the city, suburbs or surrounding countryside, Vesuvius dominates. Few other places in the world can one find an active volcano so close to so many people. In fact with a future eruption deemed inevitable, the threat is very real and serious.

Never to be put off by potential peril, we decided to see this humpbacked monster of a thing in the most proximate way possible – by climbing up it!

I didn’t believe it myself, but it is indeed feasible to trek to the top. For the most part (I joke not) there’s a road. The last 700 feet is then accessible by climbing some very steep, lava laden paths (for which fitness is required).

So, up we went through the clouds to the very summit of Mt. Vesuvius!

Battered and breathless, we reached the top. At this point a range of thoughts entered my mind. On the one hand it was a sense of achievement to have scaled a stratovolcano! On the other, I was immediately struck by the realisation that I was looking into the crater of a volcano, from which so much devastation once originated (and could again). It’s an obvious sentiment, but actually being there brought it a lot more to life. I’d therefore recommend making the effort to crawl up and see it. Just don’t hang around too long!

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