On the docks at Naples we were met by a taxi, which TBH had booked whilst we were still at home. The driver, whose name, sadly, I didn’t write down and have therefore forgotten, was a brilliant guide to the area. He drove us to the end of the road on Vesuvius, managing to get us there before most of the other day-trippers so that we only met large crowds as we were descending again.
Although the hillside was rough and rocky, the volcanic soil is apparently very rich and there was an abundance of flowers, and also lots of lizards and hosts of butterflies. I think that theses lizards are the same species of Common or Viviparous lizards which we sometimes see at home, although they were, I suspect, not necessarily more common here, just easier to see in the absence of grass. Certainly, like the ones at home, some of these had shed their tails – no doubt to escape from a tight spot – and were now regenerating a replacement.
About the butterflies, I ‘m afraid I’m clueless – although I have seen a secondhand copy of ‘Collins Mediterranean Wildlife’ in the Oxfam bookshop, and if it’s still there when I go back I’ll make that my next purchase and have a go at identifying at least the ones I managed to photograph, which is only a small sample of the butterflies which were flying from bloom to bloom.
Although it was a hazy day, it was still possible to get an idea of just how big a city Naples is from the rim of the crater on Vesuvius. Italy’s third biggest city, after Rome and Milan, it has a population of around 3 million (making it bigger, for comparisons sake, than the conurbation around Liverpool). All this from our driver/guide – apart from the bit about Liverpool – he seemed genuinely proud of his home town and was a fount of knowledge about the city’s history and the history of volcanic activity in the area.
Sorrento peninsula, part of Capri on the right (rather lost in the haze).
The crater was so large, that it was difficult to capture a representative image from the rim, even with the panoramic facility. (You’ll notice that we were all wearing sandals, which is not recommended – the path is floored with a volcanic gravel and descending in sandals proved to be an uncomfortable affair).
Vesuvius is still active and in a couple of places in the wall of the crater smoke was venting…