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Napoli: Garbage Mountain and Unlucky Mt. Vesuvius

After visiting Rome, we trained down to Pizza City or Napoli (Naples to North Americans); known for its pizza, high crime rate and ongoing garbage strikes. Naples and surrounding areas have suffered garbage crises for years, the result of corruption, poor management and infiltration by the local mob (The Comorra). The European Commission warned Italy in November that it risked big fines if it fails to implement a the waste management plan, drawn up after the country was found to be in breach of EU legislation in March. On November 18, Italy passed a decree aimed at speeding up construction of new processing plants and garbage incinerators and earmarked an extra 150 million euros (204 million dollars) of funds for the Campania region with promises to clean up the streets by Christmas. Even after garbage trucks took to the streets and worked all night to make only a dent in the heeps, the problem will continue into the new year.

After hiking over garbage mountian in Naples, we felt warmed up and ready to tackle Mt. Vesuvius. To visit the still active volcano, we had many options, only we didn’t want to take any of the offered tours. We had heard that it was possible to hike to the summit from the base of Mt. Vesuvius, after taking a local bus (only one or two buses run this route daily) through the village town below (there are only two public buses that run during the day in the off season). But we somehow managed to miss the later part about the bus and found ourselves hiking from the port, through the local villages and traffic for about a hour trying to find the mountain base. Thoroughly limbered up from our casual pre-moutain jaunt, we worked our way up the narrow roadways comfortably until the clouds rolled in. Then came the thunder, the lightening and golf ball-sized rain drops. Fully drenched and hours from our destination point, we we considered sticking the odd thumb out, but the thumb Gods had already heard us. A car with a family of three stopped and let us slop our wet selves into their back seat. Not only did they drive us about a kilometer up the mountain, they also extended an invitation for coffee with their friends. Sounding more like a cult gathering than a friendly cuppa joe, we decided we’d stick to our hike.

We weren’t alone for very long once on foot again. A pair of stray dogs decided they’d come along for the hike. Not knowing exactly where the mountain summit was or if it was open due to the time of year, we hoped that by some stroke of luck the dogs would know where they were going. It wasn’t until we finally found a fork in the road that the dogs decided to finish their guided tour. Relying on our general sense of direction, we headed the way that said “Gondola” in Italian, we found ourselves at a coffee shop where one of the suggested guided bus tour buses had stopped. The bus driver told us we had passed the entrance way back at the fork (thanks a lot stray dogs) and that the summit was closed due to the weather conditions. Fantastic! We just hiked five hours in Italian monsoons for nothing but a much needed beer, snickers and some good old excercise. The bus driver insisted that we join his tour, free of charge, back to Naples. The rain subsided on our ride back down the mountain and made for some great photo ops.

We would make a second attempt to see the summit of Mt. Vesuvius, but again, due to bad weather guided buses weren’t even making the lengthy climb. If you’re thinking about checking out Mt. Vesuvius, definitely call the information office first before booking any bus or any five hour hikes.

Interesting Info:
Mt. Vesuvius is a 17,000 year old volcano that is still active today. It is the only active volcano on the European mainland. It has erupted 50 times and the last eruption happened in 1944.

The Limey

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This entry was posted on January 15, 2011 by in Italy, Mt. Vesuvius.
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