It’s now time to say goodbye to Alex, Jo and the Naples region. We have a leisurely morning, having established, in Alex’s words that ‘all walking is cancelled today’ as we’re all super sore from the last few days of hills and cobbled streets. We have a final cooked breakfast courtesy of Jo and Alex and head across to the airport in a relatively uneventful car journey. It’s been great to hang out with these guys for the last few days and we miss them already!
Eliza falls asleep in the car and I decide that surely the best way to counter achey legs is to hike up a volcano…yup, crazy right? Anyway, the road up to Vesuvius is suitably windy, made more eventful by the occasional Italian driver dutifully reinforcing the stereotype we’ve created by first trying to kiss our bumper and then overtaking us on tight bends. We park in the designated car park and take the shuttle taxi the rest of the way up the road. It’s then a 200m climb up to the entrance, by which point Eliza has decided she is more than a little peckish, so we stop for some milk and to admire the views over Naples and the islands beyond.
Once in, it’s a fairly steep, zig-zag path up to the summit. We keep walking, pausing to take in the view, noticing a tour group is nearly catching up with us, speed walking a bit to get away from them, pausing and so it continues, up to the top. Meanwhile there’s some atmospheric explosions coming from a nearby mountain top (military exercise perhaps?), which make Eliza jump a little, but are otherwise quite intriguing to see and hear.
Once at the top, we’re amazed by the beautiful range of purple and red hues in the surrounding rock and I’m a little enchanted by what Marie informs me are lichen growing on some of the rocks. Walking around it, there’s areas smoking, reminding us that this remains an active volcano, whilst below, we can see the Pompeii ruins and a whole host of towns and villages built a similar or closer distance to the volcano than Pompeii- has history taught these people nothing? I guess not as 100 people were killed in the eruption of 1906 and 4 villages were also destroyed in the last major eruptions in 1944. The views are pretty amazing though, stretching across to Sorrento and Capri on one side and over Naples to the other, we can’t resist a goodbye wave to Alex and Jo as we spot the airstrip.
At the end of the trail we stop for a well deserved drink, Eliza too, and sit down to admire the view. Beside us, to add to the atmosphere of course, is an ever increasing group of Eastern Europeans with first one bottle of brandy and by the time we’re leaving, also a bottle of wine, bottle of vodka and several other undefined spirits adorning the table, with much shouting and laughter. We spot them again on the walk back posing for photos standing on the barrier on the edge of the trail, above a huge drop- what could possibly go wrong?
Our return trip home is a little more eventful, with me sat in the back entertaining/ pacifying Eliza almost the entire way, leaving Marie to navigate alone in the front. The highlight of this is her turn the wrong way into a one way street, but fortunately a man on the back of a moped helps by telling her this and then indicating the right way back to the motorway.
Our evening meal consists of a much longed for and therefore ginormous salad, with a little pasta on the side and extensive indecisiveness on my part as to where to venture next, having no accommodation booked for the next two days.