The ascent to the crater

 

This page is dedicated to a particular side of Vesuvius history of  which we are most concerned, namely the one regarding "hiking the most famous volcano in the world". In modern times, indeed, as early as seventeenth century, the ascent to the crater was the arduous goal for many travelers, fascinated by the eruptions and the beautiful scenery.

 

Needless to say, so long ago hikers belonged  to an elite, few trippers that increased over the years, till become organised tourism, managed  according rules appropriate to our times.

 

There are certainly some common reasons that led so many travelers over the centuries to Vesuvius: the charm of the scenery, the closeness to the archaeological sites, to Sorrento or Naples, the eruptive activity.
However, those who first 'discovered' the cultural value, or in other words the enormous fascination of Vesuvius, just during the years when Pompeii and Herculaneum were brought to light, have been influenced to reconsider on new basis their own culture.

 

The tourists that during the seventeenth century reached Vesuvius,replica watches belong to that flow of north European voyagers who arrived in Italy longing to see the artworks of Renaissance  and its towns.

The famous journey of Grand Tour began in Genoa and then continue toward south to Florence, Rome and then Naples including Vesuvius which was the most exotic destination , considering the fact that most foreigners had never seen a volcano.

Between 1594 and 1600, during excavation work to build a canal to convey water from the river Sarno to Torre Annunziata, were unexpectedly discovered buildings and ruins of ancient Pompeii.
  Archaeological excavations began during the reign of Charles of Bourbon in 1748 and brought to light whole roman public buildings and private houses . During this period the excursions to Vesuvius took a significant cultural value, as combining a visit to the ancient city with one on the volcano that destroyed it meant recreating in their imagination, the classical civilization seen as a source of our Western culture.

 

The irresistible forces of nature coming true on the volcano fascinated intellectuals and artists of eighteenth  and nineteenth  century who praised the romantic value as opposed to the analytical rationalism of the Enlightenment.  This is the background where notable figures such as Ambassador Sir Hamilton , Wolfgang Goethe, Alexander Dumas, Charles Dickens and many others,clearly declared, in many literary sources, their astonishment about the beauty of the mighty Vesuvius.

The ascent to the crater was the core of that adventure, sometimes hampered by some eruption; since the '700 some of the writers above mentioned speak of the presence of escorts-connoisseurs who led small groups of hikers to the summit of the volcano, supported by horses and often at night.

During the nineteenth century the trend of hiking increased so that in 1855 the Prefecture promulgated a regulation governing the figure of Mountain Guide for the accompaniment of tourists to the so-called Mount Vesuvius.
In 1895 the regulation of the City of Resina and the Decree of the Prefect of Naples on November 18th recognized juridically  the legal profile of the Guide, including the law requirements to perform his duties and by introducing the compulsory accompaniment to ensure the safety of tourists.

  After the establishment of the first Volcanological Observatory  of modern history in 1845, began a long series of field studies aimed at developing a valid scientific way for the surveillance of volcanic activity. The photos published here portrays Giuseppe Mercalli (1850-1914), Director, working on the rim of the crater , assisted by a guide.
In recent history vulcanological guides are engaged in collaborations with international scientific and media organizations  so to become a reference point for all those who need a reliable and quality support on Vesuvius.

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