There used to be a funicular up the mountain - it's the exact funicular referred to in that catchy opera tune Funiculi Funicula - but it was destroy in the last eruption around the end of WWII. Now one takes a long and windy ride 3000 feet up the mountain to get to the top. The vegetation is thick and this region is known for exceptional soil - thank you, Vesuvius - but there are also dead spots where the lava flowed (which you can kind of see in the top right photo). The mountain was once three times that size but it's explosive (more so than other volcanoes) nature means it literally blew its top.
In these photos you see the crater of Vesuvius and the expected epicenter for the next eruption - the things blows about every fifty years and the last was in the 1940s so you do the math. I'm very concerned about the 3 million inhabitants of nearby and in-the-way Naples, Capri, and Sorrento; our guide did say that volcanologists can predict an eruption two weeks in advance so there's that.
Many cities were buried and destroyed in 79 AD by Vesuvius but only Herculaneum and Pompeii have been excavated. Herculaneum was in the path of the lava and so it it solid; Pompeii was covered in ash which is much easier to move out of the way and excavate; the paintings on the walls still have color. The ash burned any wood (hence no roofs) and suffocated the people. Later archaeologists poured plaster in the molds left by the bodies in the ash and so you can see what the people looked like when they died. I found that rather morbid so I didn't take any photos but it's totally google-able.
We toured the streets and a home (no brothel which was fine by us). And then we took as many photos as possible with Vesuvius in the background.
And the walls kept tumbling down in the city that we love
Great clouds roll over the hills bringing darkness from above
We were caught up and lost in all of our vices
In your pose as the dust settles around us
-Pompeii by Bastille
Naples is the birth place of the pizza so obviously we had to get pizza. There's a reason it's famous. I thought the sauce was more like tomato paste (in a good way) and gave the pizza a nice flavor (versus the usual pizza sauce). In other but related news, our waiter (who spoke very little English...similar to our grasp of Italian) was flirty and hilarious.
So, umm, Naples is a hole - which is what we learned walking around with our new cruise friend Kimberly. It's got one of the highest (if not the highest) crimes rate in Europe. And I think it's rather famous (or it should be) for the laundry drying on lines...everywhere. We felt totally safe walking around and rather surprised at the juxtaposition of the beautiful (fashion, for example) and the disgusting.
When the moon hits you eye like a big pizza pie, that's amore
Scuzza me, but you see, back in old Napoli, that's amore
-That's Amore, Dean Martin