Ch.5 : The Vesuvius  

From its 1200 meters Vesuvius serves as backdrop to the Gulf of Naples. Since ancient times men are implanted it because of the beauty of nature, the fertility of the soil and the mild climate.  The history of its eruptions is the longest, the best known and most exciting. In reality other Italian volcanoes are located in areas inhabited since the dawn of civilization, especially in Tuscany, Latium and Campania in the same.  But their business has established long before these areas are populated and was much smaller and more spaced.
 As for the Phlegrean Fields, the area northwest of Naples studded products craters each by an eruption in the last 2000 years, they are known mainly for another phenomenon, the bradyseism, this vertical and slow movement of land that caused the raising or sinking of ground in the city of Pozzuoli.  The last throes, between 1982 and 1984, have produced an elevation of about 1.50 m with all the consequences this can have on social and economic structures.  To return to Vesuvius, its activity over the centuries seems to obey rules cyclical: it all starts with a violent explosion, often followed by a casting more or less imposing lava. The first cycle that we know, and we could be in time, dating back to around 25,000 years;  was then rebuilt other cycles of eruptions with quiétudes intervals of several centuries.

In 1 century BC. J.-C. AD the volcano looked like a quiet mountain where grew wild vines.  It is indeed with vines branches as Spartacus and other rebellious gladiators, assailed on the summit of Vesuvius, built ladders to bypass the positions of the Romans and temporarily evade capture;  according to Plutarch it all happened in 72 BC. J.-C..  Strabo, the famous Greek geographer, about the year 50 BC. J.-C.  AD hypothesized that was in the presence of igneous rocks but no one lives there the announcement of a resumption of the activity of the volcano;  and even when in 63 AD. J.-C. AD earthquakes shook the Vesuvius area, it was still considered a quiet mountain tops to the flat.

The eruption of August 24 in the year 79 AD, is the most famous of antiquity.  It still fascinates us despite the terrible destruction which she was the cause in Pompeii as Herculaneum. Pliny the Younger's letters to Tacitus tell us much about the heaviest sense phenomena that characterized the event.  The author describes the circumstances of the death of his uncle, Pliny the Elder, on the coast of Stabia.  It was a passionate observer of natural phenomena.  The description left to us by Pliny the Younger is an exceptional document and contains some very interesting details, such as the observation of cloud coming out of the crater, whose shape resembled that of a pine that characterized particularly violent eruptions just say "Plinian ". The circumstances of the death of Pliny the Elder suggest that it was stifled as is the case of people with different layers was shot during the excavations of Pompeii.

According to the calculations which it was delivered, a volume of about 3 km3 of material was ejected for thirty hours. The rash "Pompeian" thus holds one of the first places among those we know and certainly the first when one takes into consideration the areas of high population density. Pompeii was buried under a coat pyroclastic material, that is to say produced by the explosion, while Herculaneum was submerged by a mudslide; both cities were wiped off the face of the earth to the excavations of the early eighteenth century. Other volcanic phenomena were recorded, with more or less regular intervals of several hundred years, until the advent of a new period of tranquility. This period lasted from 1139 to 1631 after Sir William Hamilton, English Minister Plenipotentiary at the court of Naples, husband of Lady Hamilton, most famous for other reasons.  In 1631, in fact, begins with a violent explosion that would be the last Vesuvius activity.

Today, if we look at the crater of Vesuvius from its top edge, there was some difficulty in imagining the disasters that have befallen the surrounding area from precisely this orifice.
 We are in the quiet phase after the end of a cycle of eruptions and, if we take into account the habits of Vesuvius, its future activities should find a place in a fairly distant future, in the middle of the third millennium era.
The shortest route for an excursion to the crater of Vesuvius, Herculaneum will or Torre del Greco Boscoreale or until the base of the large cone.  A dimension is 609 m volcanic Vesivian the Observatory, further, a deviation into disuse door to a chairlift that had replaced an old funicular immortalized by the song Funiculi-Funiculà.  Inaugurated in 1880, the funicular was closed in 1944 after a series of eruptions.

Along the way there has been a progressive change of the landscape due to the scarcity of vegetation going from flourishing fruit-tree crops, favored by the fertility of the volcanic soil at the base of the volcano, to increasingly gaunt atmosphere mainly constituted by juniper bushes, grasses and lichens.
 Throughout the journey takes place the wide and beautiful panorama. The look goes from the Gulf of Naples with the Campi Flegrei and the islands of Ischia and Procida until the Sorrento Peninsula and Capri. Once at the foot of the cone to listing in 1000, the tour continues on foot by a steep path leading to the top of the crater after an hour of walking;  alor opens our eyes to a terrace and the path circling the crater, lets see the inner depths knew Vesuvius over a length of 1000 meters.
 Top-down internal walls, stratified rock, the huge draw almost circular aperture with a diameter of 600 m.  The complete tour of the crater takes about one hour's walk along a trail and a little dangerous for which this is done exclusively with one of the guides that are on instead.

Ch.6 : Letter   Plinius...