For volcano enthusiasts, and not only for them, the Vesuvius is certainly one of the most fascinating volcanoes on our planet. Overlooking the Gulf of Naples, located just behind the city, embraced by Mount Somma – what remains of the caldera destroyed during the eruption of 79 AD – this volcano is the only active volcano in the Old Continent.
Uniquely, its activities have been observed (and described) for over two thousand years. The first and, without doubt, the most famous report was that of Pliny the Younger during the 79 AD eruption which covered Pompeii and Herculaneum with ash and mud. Pliny, in his two letters to the Roman historian Tacitus, described the volcanic activity in such detail, that his report has assumed scientific value. Since then there have been other major eruptions characterized by great violence, the last of which occurred in March 1944, just as the Allies were advancing on Naples, with gas explosions and gigantic fountains of lava.
One of the many peculiarities of the Vesuvius is that, over the centuries, it has changed its type of activity. Where, at the time of the destruction of Pompeii, the eruptions were explosive with pyroclastic material production, later eruptions have modified and there has been more effusive activity, producing lava magma.
In 1997, the UNESCO elected the Vesuvius, together with Monte Somma and the Golden Mile, a Biosphere Reserve.