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!)
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.