Today was our geology/archaeology day. Given that we were in the region of Italy known as Campania, it was pretty much a foregone conclusion that we would have to spend at least one of the days soaking in all things related to Mount Vesuvius. While it hasn't erupted for more than 64 years, Vesuvius is an active volcano...patiently waiting until it's time once again to make its presence known to all who live in the Gulf of Naples.
First thing in the morning, we got onto the train in Sorrento, and took a 45 minute ride westward to the town of Ercolano. From there, we caught a local tour bus up to the parking area that is about a 45-minute hike away from the summit of the volcano.
We were fortunate that the day and time that we chose to do this, the clouds had not settled at the top, which normally would result in miserably wet and windy conditions.
The sun was out, and visibility was excellent. In fact, we could see nearly the entire Gulf of Naples this day.
There were vendors selling espresso and the like, and we just had to have some! :)
The summit was pretty remarkable.
While it was a small crater, relative to what we have seen in Hawaii, respect for mother nature's power stored within this mountain was not lost on us. We continued as far as we could until we reached the point where you could only proceed with a licensed Vesuvius guide.
This we didn't mind, as we had run out of time anyway, and the hike to the top looked like it would take at least another hour.
Afterwards, we toured ancient Herculaneum, a town that had been razed by an eruption hundreds of years ago.
A small town, it is still being excavated, and it's structures were better preserved than Pompeii.
Back on the train, and 20 minutes later we arrive in Pompeii.
The city is huge in comparison to Herculaneum. Pompeii also seemed to enjoy more of an aristocratic standing, as it had it's own Forum(like Rome), and even an amphitheatre that held up to 20,000 people!
By the time we finished with Pompeii, the sun was close to setting, so we wrapped up and went home to get some much needed rest before tomorrow's excursion...the island of Capri !