This is a continuation of the Herculaneum trip that I undertook along with my seven-year-old daughter this summer. I knew my daughter would surely be hungry after walking around so much so we sat at a quiet place and opened our goodie bag which had various Pizzas that I had stocked up at Rome. I usually do not like Pizzas but after tasting the real Pizza in Italy you will honestly fall in love with them.
With our train back to Rome in the evening we had some time to kill and as we were coming out of the Herculaneum main gate a driver approached us with an offer of a round trip to Mount Vesuvius. I am not a trek lover thus immediately rejected the idea but my daughter for a change urged me to take this opportunity to visit the dormant volcano. I was surprised to know that she had read up about Mt. Vesuvius before coming to this trip and was very much interested in taking up the short trip.
I approached the driver of the minivan and initially, he quoted 4 Euros per person. Upon request for a discounted rate for my daughter and he agreed for a total of 6 Euros for two of us which according to me was a steal. Here I would like to mention that for availing these type of services in and around Pompeii always bargain and surely you will get a better offer.
Don’t be mistaken that the only cost you will incur for a trip to Mt. Vesuvius would be the shuttle minivan fee. The minivan will stop in-between and you have to pay park entry fee. The rates are subsidised for a child but surprisingly out here there is a height condition. A clear height sticker has been stuck near the ticket counter and if the child is taller than the prescribed marker then a full ticket would need to be purchased regardless of the age of the child. Luckily for me, my daughter was an inch short and did not have to pay the full price. The entry fee to the top of the volcano is 10 Euros for an adult and 8 Euros for a child with a height of fewer than 1.2 meters.
The drive from Herculaneum to the Mt. Vesuvius (parking lot) takes around half an hour. All vehicles stop at around 1000 meters and the rest 250 meters need to be walked on foot. The tourist shuttle vehicles usually give you a window of two hours to finish the climb. Ideally, take down the phone number and the vehicle number so that you can contact the driver is necessary. The drivers promise that they will remain at the parking lot for the next two hours but in reality, they will drive off to get the next set of passengers once you have crossed the ticket checking gates. But do not worry they stick to their words and you will surely find them after two hours.
The climb is a steep one thus I would recommend not to take this trip if you have walking difficulties or other height related ailments. To be comfortable on the walk make sure you are wearing comfortable shoes as the road is simply made of gravel and volcanic deposit. You can take walking sticks from the ticket checking gates which will help you to climb. Take enough water with you as you will surely sweat it out. This region is also notorious for regular cloud build up thus carry umbrellas and rain jackets. When we were climbing up it was bright and sunny and on our way back we encounter heavy rainfall.
Honestly, I did not expect my daughter to be able to climb up and was really surprised to see her energy. During our trip, I was having a knee problem due to a recent motorbike accident which was slowing me down but my daughter kept on giving me pep talks to keep carrying on to the summit. At one point she even reminded me that we have paid a lot of Euros for this trip and we should not waste the opportunity. I laughed my heart out on hearing this.
Don’t make the summit the ultimate goal but enjoy the whole walk up. The landscape is fantastic from the top and from one place you will be able to see the Bay of Naples clearly. On your way up make sure to pick up some volcanic rock as souvenirs, I picked up quite a few of them and they were an excellent gift which surprisingly was loved more than the typical fridge magnets.
Mt. Vesuvius is dormant but according to the geologist, it’s because the pressure inside is building up. Occasionally you will see slight puffs which are absolutely normal. Once on top wait a while to enjoy the view around think about the massive devastation that this mountain once brought to this regions centuries ago.
As mentioned earlier we encountered rainfall on our way back but were lucky to find a shade where we took refuge. After the rain stopped I had to treat my daughter to a Gelato which she was demanding for a long time. She really deserved this for climbing all the way to the top along with me. You will also find many souvenir shops selling fridge magnets stone necklaces and memorabilia. Its bit expensive here but after all you are in a historic location.
As promised the driver shows up and we all board the minivan which drops us back to the station Ercolano Scavi (Herculaneum). The drive back took longer than usual since it was late afternoon and most of the tourist vehicles were coming down thus there was occasional traffic which slowed the journey. You pay the minivan driver only after completing the trip and once done he will hand you a certificate confirming your successful climb. This is more of a souvenir but for my daughter, Rianna was the most prized gift.