Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Political Science in Naples, Italy: Mt. Vesuvius

This past weekend Chris Niepsuj, Joseph Crossno, and I went to hike Mt. Vesuvius. Our day started at about 0700 on a Sunday with the hope of catching the early train and avoiding the crowds. To our surprise when we arrived at the station we found that not only was it swarming with people, but also one of the trains was out of service and would not be back online for the foreseeable future. This caused a mad dash of hundreds of people to board the next train out on our line. The three of us managed to get on together, but it took no time for us to get separated on the train, which was well over capacity by the second stop. After about a half hour of being like what I can only imagine it’s like to be a sardine in a 95 degree can, we made it to our stop and got off the train.  

After alighting from the train station, we came across a man advertising transportation to the mountain as well as prepaid passes to see Vesuvius. After purchasing the tickets, we were told it would be another half hour until the bus would be leaving for Vesuvius, so we found a corner shop and had a nice cold Gatorade to replace the fluids we lost on the train ride. After the half hour wait, we finally loaded the bus and were on our way to the mountain.

Left to Right: Robbie Machamer, Chris Niepsuj, and Joseph Crossno
The ride took us up winding roads for about 30 minutes before reaching the base of the mountain. From there, we disembarked on our journey to the top. This journey included an incline just shy of 65 degrees for about 600 meters of loose volcanic ash before we reached a refreshment stand, where we would later have fresh squeezed orange juice (something Naples is notorious for) on our trek back down the mountain. After taking a quick breather at the way station, we continued up the mountain another 100 meters to the crest of the volcano. This is where we asked a couple of Australian ladies to take a picture of the three of us with Big Red. After spending a half hour of admiring the view and taking pictures, we began our journey back down the mountain and got back on the bus, so we could meet the other members of The Citadel group later that afternoon for lunch.

Looking down into the center of Vesuvius. 
The trip itself probably cost about €50, but the experience was definitely worth every cent. Being able to look down into the volcano that wiped an entire city off the map, pushing back the shore 2 miles was a truly humbling experience. And, on top of that, being able to peer down on Naples from above the clouds and across the bay was priceless.

- Robert Machamer

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