Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Sorrento, day 2 - 5000 steps on a volcano

(Actually, it was more than 5000 steps – I'd changed the sensitivity of the pedometer and went a bit too far - but it’s a good enough title. And note that half these steps were uphill, on a skiddy surface, i.e. worth a lot more calories...)

On Tuesday, we took the train from St Agnello to Pompeii, where we were serenaded by a busker playing the saxophone really loudly (Chris grinned his head off when I surreptitiously switched sound off) - then caught a bus to Vesuvius itself. The road was very steep, with hairpin bends and lots of gorse and amazing views over the Bay of Naples.

Vesuvius is the only active volcano on mainland Europe (Etna and Stromboli are on islands); its last eruption was in 1944, but the most famous eruption was on 24 August AD 79 (more of which later).

The ‘walking paths’ to the summit start at 400m and are steep zig-zags. (They don't look that steep, here, but believe me they are!)
Plus, as you’re walking on little piece of lava, it’s quite slippery; so we needed the stout sticks we were offered.
To the right in this pic, you can see the scree on the side of the volcano. It's dust and pumice and lava - some of it's pink, some of it's grey, and some of it is silvery and glittery.
At the top (1267 m), the view of the crater was stunning.
I'm bright red here because of the sun. (Oh, all right, it was a long haul up those paths.)
You could smell the sulphur (as well as seeing the bright yellow deposits on the top of the crater) and we were thrilled to see the smoke coming out of the vents.
The views over the Bay of Naples were pretty stunning, too. You could follow the line of the last eruption by the green of the vineyards.


We bought some lava souvenirs, and the children were thrilled to be given some haematite by the boys who handed out the stout sticks.
We caught the open-top bus back; you could smell the sweet scent of gorse (which is so huge that it becomes a tree here, rather than a bush).
And in the town there were lots of gorgeous blue flowers.


19 comments:

Caroline said...

Wow - what great pictures (again). Vesuvius is close to my heart and my edit pen at the moment! Why? 'Cos it features in my wip that needs to go off to the NWS this month. I've based my story around the eruption in AD79 and the town of Herculaneum in my latest "Roman". Caroline x

Kate Hardy said...

Caroline - how exciting! (And I loved Herculaneum - pictures coming up next week as the rest of this week will be filled with Pompeii.)

Kate Hardy said...

PS and I meant to say good luck with the NWS sub :o)

Cara Cooper said...

We were too lazy to go up Vesuvius, we're leaving that for next time! The blue flowers are Ipomea, or morning glory. I love those and sometimes grow them here. Well done for climbing up all that scree, rather you than me!

susanwilson44 said...

Great pictures as usual Kate, and Caroline your story sounds fab!

Michelle Styles said...

Isn't it wonderful? Your pictures brought it all back.

Shirley Wells said...

Lovely pics, Kate. Thanks for sharing. And yes - those paths are steep. I remember them well. :)

Sarah Morgan said...

What fabulous pictures - now I'm even more jealous than I was before, which is saying something.
Sarah
x

Michela said...

Lovely pictures for a lovely place which I know so well! Did you also visit "Villa dei misteri"?
P.S. Fantastic new look for the blog! x

Lacey Devlin said...

That so incredible. I have a secret fascination for volcanoes. If there's a documentary on it on TV you can guarantee I'll be watching it. Definitely worth climbing a slippery mountain for :)

Nicola Marsh said...

I'm loving these pics, Kate.
Living vicariously through you!

Welcome home :)

Kate Hardy said...

Cara - thanks so much for telling me what the flowers were! They're gorgeous. And Vesuvius is definitely worth the haul.

Kate Hardy said...

Susan - thanks :o)

Kate Hardy said...

Michelle - it was stunning. And I'm talking about Pompeii for the rest of the week, so that will bring stuff back for you as well.

Kate Hardy said...

Shirley - glad I'm not the only one who thought they were steep. (Mind you, given where you live, they probably feel fairly ordinary!)

Kate Hardy said...

Sarah - oh, bless! :)

Kate Hardy said...

Michaela - somehow, we managed to miss the Villa dei Misteri (and missed all the lovely frescoes, sigh) - but we had been walking round all day and were really hot and tired by that point!

Kate Hardy said...

Lacey - I don't use the word often, but it was awesome. You could really feel the power of nature. I'd definitely recommend a visit :o)

Kate Hardy said...

Nic - glad you're enjoying them :)