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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:


It even included a slick brochure in English:

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.


There are days like “the day of the gate” then there are days like today. The sun is shining; the sky is a brilliant blue. It was already getting too warm for a winter coat at 8:30 am. I’m off for a little trip to Naples to pick up Russell’s passport. Any change of schedule is enough to lift your spirits out of the winter doldrums.  Don’t you just love when spring is around the corner?

Drive-through photos of Naples….

Vesuvius from the highway.   This was near the Pompeii exit.  Shows you how close they were to the volcano in AD79.


See the crazy guy on the motorcycle?  He’s got a huge package in one hand and another strapped on his back.  He was weaving through traffic like it was nothing.


The Bay of Naples taken on the lungomare near the U.S. Consulate


Fresh fish, anyone?  These fisherman had literally just caught the fish in the bay.


Yesterday, we took our first trip to the U.S. Consulate in Naples ( We needed to renew Russell’s passport. I think my “bar” has been lowered from dealing with Italian bureaucracy because it was actually a pleasant experience. The passport renewal instructions on the internet are clear and detailed so we arrived prepared; the appointment was made online; we found the building easily and there was even parking nearby. A polite Italian and jolly American guy took of the paperwork and we were on our way. So what’s the message….Americans, for all its faults you should appreciate your government. You have no idea how good we have it!

After that we took a drive over to the Navy Support Site. I wanted to check out their commissary (grocery store) and buy some items that are difficult or impossible to find at Italian grocery stores. For an avid baker, it was bad news when I discovered that brown sugar does not exist here. I searched for a substitute and discovered you can make it with white sugar and molasses. Too bad you can’t buy molasses either! In the end, I bought molasses up at Aviano AFB last summer. You can make a lot of brown sugar with one jar of molasses.

You may be amused by what we bought:

Normal size chocolate chips (they only sell wimpy miniature ones locally)

Butterscotch chips

Cape Cod potato chips (woo hoo!)

Can of baking powder (sold in annoying little packets here)

Vanilla extract

Flour tortillas


Two ribeye steaks

Hamburger buns


Maple syrup

Transformer fruit flavor snacks

Super Mario Bros fruit flavor snacks

Perhaps not the healthiest selection but it sure will taste good! We topped off our American experience by eating lunch at A&W in the food court. Loved the rootbeer! The burger and fries…..not so much. Overall, it was a nice mini-trip to the U.S.

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