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The Vesuvius

The Vesuvius is one of the most famous volcanos of the Earth and with its characteristic shape gives to the Neapolitan landscape an unmistakable look. The Vesuvius is formed by a frustum cone, the Monte Somma (1132 ms the Punta del Nasone) and by a smaller cone, the Vesuvian cone (or Vesuvius properly called), that rises from the fund of the crater of the Monte Somma and it reaches the height of 1281 ms.. Between the Vesuvian cone and the Monte Somma opens a valley, the Valle del Gigante, that has the name of Atrio del Cavallo at north and Valle dell’Inferno at east.

In the past the volcano was known only for its excellent wines; in fact, on the Pompeian wine amphoras often appears the writing Vesvinum or Vesuvinum, that is wine of the Vesuvius. Before 79 A.D. the Vesuvius was probably constituted only by one cone, as it’s testified by three frescos (one of Ercolano and two of Pompeii); the one recovered in the House of the Centenary, in fact, represents one lonely mountain, probably the Vesuvius, at the foot of which is Bacchus covered by an enormous cluster of black grape.

About the catastrophic eruption of 79 A.D. that buried the cities of Ercolano, Pompeii and Stabia, we have only poetical testimonies but anything belongs to natural sciences specialists. Only two men, Seneca and Pliny the Elder, would have been able to give exact and competent information, but Seneca died in 65 (but he left precise news of the earthquake of the 5 February of 62) and Pliny was one of the victims of the catastrophe. Till then, different intense eruptions followed, up to the most recent in 1944.

The Vesuvius has three access way: Ercolano, Torre del Greco e Torre Annunziata (Boscotrecase) that then they converge on the road leading to the Vesuvius. The most comfortable way is the one of Ercolano: through a so-called Miglio d’Oro, a road rich of numerous villas built in the 18th and 19th centuries, it’s possible to go up, between orchards and vineyards (that produce the famous Lacryma Christi wine) crossing lava castings and arrive to the Osservatorio Vesuviano, a building of 1845, that studies and controls day by day the life of the volcano. Up to 1984 from the Stazione Inferiore della Seggiovia, by chair-lift in 6 minutes it was possible to climbe up to the Stazione Superiore, situated under the edge of the crater; the works for the construction of the new chair-lift have been interrupted and never started again: now the crater can be reached only afoot along a track. From here an immense and fascinating view opens on the coast and the sea, from the gulf of Gaeta to Sorrento and Capri.

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