When my folks came to visit, we decided to take to trip to see Mt. Vesuvius. It sounds pretty cool to see the crater of one of the most famous volcanoes in the world, right? I was the tour guide and did my bit of research on the volcano. I found the official website:

(http://www.vesuviopark.it/pnv/home/index.asp

It even included a slick brochure in English:

http://www.vesuviopark.it/pnv/home/download/brochure_ENG.pdf

The brochure talked about nature trails, agriculture, etc., etc. It all sounded good so off we went. It was a wild goose chase finding the correct entrance to get to the crater. It was the not so unusual Italian style drive-around with a stop at a bar to ask people if they know where the entrance is. I was getting tired as was everyone else but I have a stubborn streak and gave it one more try. We did indeed find the way up to the crater but it was getting late by this time. The road close to the summit was full of buses. We could see some type of trail with people walking up to see the crater but we decided not to do it. My Dad is really not into strenuous exercise that results in looking at a hole with rocks in it. (Somehow it’s not worth it to him.)

A few weekends after the folks had returned to the U.S., I proposed to Luca that we go back to Vesuvius to see the crater and perhaps check out a nature trail. Fortunately, this time we go directly there. It was so disappointing. When arrived at the parking lot, I thought somehow we had been transported to Morocco. Was this seriously a national park? Shame on you, Italian government! There were a few vendors selling $#@# (not even “I love Mt. Vesuvius” t-shirts) but real #$@ items. One vendor was charging for use of his porta-pottie because there weren’t even any public toilets!

We were charged €2,50 for parking in the dusty, pitted parking lot. There was a long line tourists each dolling out their €8,00 per person to hike up a trail to the crater. We were totally deflated. I suddenly began to think like my father; it just wasn’t worth it.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention. Every single entrance to the nature trails were blocked and locked! Why would these trails be closed on a beautiful day in early May? It is such a waste of what could be a beautiful nature park. I give this tourist attraction a BIG THUMBS DOWN. Don’t waste your time.

This is the ticket office – Lovely, isn’t it?

You can see the crater in the background and the some people hiking up

At least we saw a nice view of the Gulf of Naples

Here are some photos from the first trip up to Vesuvius with my folks.

The boys on an old lava flow.

You can see that you drive within the original caldera…where I believe Vesuvius really blew its top in the AD 79 eruption. After this, another cone formed from subsequent eruptions.

The cone within the caldera; it last erupted in 1944.

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