Vesuvius National Park

El Vesuvius National Park, known in Italian as Parco Nazionale del Vesuvio, is a natural reserve surrounding the Mount Vesuvius volcano, located east of Naples, Italy. This park was established in 1995 and covers approximately 135 square kilometers, all within the Metropolitan City of Naples.

Information about Vesuvius National Park

History

Vesuvius National Park was officially established on June 5, 1995, covering 8,482 hectares across 13 Italian municipalities.

With the purpose of protecting and conserving wildlife, flora and fauna of Italy, unique geological formations, and the natural processes that characterize this region around Mount Vesuvius, near Naples, Italy.

Its objectives are broad and range from preserving animal and plant species to protecting landscape values and ecological balances. It also focuses on applying environmental management methods that harmoniously integrate human activity with the natural environment, promoting traditional and educational activities that respect the environment, highlighting its importance due to the dense urbanization surrounding it and its reputation as one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world.

Vesuvius National Park

This park has strong environmental support to restore and preserve its natural beauty and distance it from the degradation suffered in the past, ensuring that both present and future generations can enjoy its resources. Like other Italian parks and protected areas, the Vesuvius National Park is one of the most important in the country and, along with the Stelvio National Park, is one of the most visited each year.

From a naturalistic perspective, the park is exceptionally rich and diverse. It is known for its mineralogical wealth and varied vegetation, including more than 900 plant species, such as birches, Italian alders, and numerous orchids. The fauna is also remarkable, with a wide variety of invertebrates and vertebrates, including birds of prey and mammals like foxes and hares.

The volcanic soil of the area is ideal for agriculture, with crops of apricots, cherries, grapes (which produce the DOC wine Lacryma Christi), and Piennolo tomatoes, among others. Additionally, the park hosts a diversity of minerals and offers the opportunity to study sediment layers and geological formations generated by historical eruptions and the action of external agents.

Content

Directions to Vesuvius National Park

  • Palazzo Mediceo Via Palazzo del Principe 80044 Ottaviano (NA)

Opening Hours and Ticket Prices

Opening hours and days for visiting the Vesuvius crater:

  • January, February, November, December: Monday to Sunday, from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM.
  • March and October: Monday to Sunday, from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM.
  • April, May, June, September: Monday to Sunday, from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM.
  • July and August: Monday to Sunday, from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM.

Except in cases of adverse weather conditions or force majeure, the path leading to the crater is open every day of the year, including Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays.

Ticket prices for visiting the Vesuvius crater:

  • Full ticket: 10€.
  • Students from schools and universities of all levels: 8€.
  • Free entry for children under 120 centimeters tall and people with 100% disability and their companion.

Excursions and Recommended Activities

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What to See and Do in Vesuvius National Park

The historical heritage of the Vesuvius area is truly extraordinary and diverse. From the iconic archaeological city of Pompeii to the ruins of Herculaneum and Oplontis, this area is steeped in ancient history and fascinating archaeological sites.

In addition to these famous locations, other historical gems can also be found, such as the recent excavations in Somma Vesuviana, Villa Regina in Boscoreale, and the sumptuous 18th-century villas along the Golden Mile. The large farms of Vesuvius and the barrel roofs of Terzigno also tell stories of rural life and traditional architecture of the region.

What to see and do in Vesuvius National Park, Italy

Museums play an important role in preserving and educating about the heritage of the area. The MAV (Virtual Archaeological Museum) of Herculaneum and the National Railway Museum of Pietrarsa in Portici are just two examples of institutions that offer a window into the past. Additionally, the Coral Museum in Torre del Greco and the Farmer Museum in Somma Vesuviana highlight specific aspects of local history and culture.

The Mount Vesuvius Volcano

Mount Vesuvius is both a geological and cultural icon, recognized for its distinctive shape and volcanic history. With a maximum height of 1,277 meters, this stratovolcano majestically towers over the city of Naples, being a characteristic symbol of the region and remaining an active volcano in continental Europe. Fortunately, a guided tour can be taken. Check all the information. or take the self-guided route: See the route here.

Mount Vesuvius Volcano

The Somma-Vesuvius volcanic complex is a clear example of a volcano within a volcano. Mount Somma, a broken outer cone, surrounds Vesuvius and is marked by a series of craters, many of which were destroyed by volcanic activity. Among them is the Great Cone or Vesuvius, which probably formed during the catastrophic eruption of 79 AD, famous for its devastation of Pompeii and Herculaneum.

The Valley of the Giant separates Mount Somma from Vesuvius, with two distinct sections: the Atrio del Cavallo to the west and the Valle dell’Inferno to the east. Despite the historical violence of the volcano, the northern part of the ancient crater of Mount Somma is largely preserved thanks to its natural protection.

The slopes of Vesuvius display a variety of gradients and are marked by radial grooves carved by water erosion. Dark volcanic rocks dominate the region, with the ancient edge of the crater forming a series of ridges known as cognoli.

Mount Vesuvius is a polygenic mixed volcano, composed of a variety of lavas and pyroclastic sediments of different chemical compositions. The slopes are covered by material transported by mudflows and lava, forming deep grooves called channels or "lagni." The high embankments, composed of lava scoria, are rich in nutrients and provide crucial fertile soil for the surrounding vegetation.

Ruins of Herculaneum

The ruins of Herculaneum, inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List along with Pompeii and Oplontis since 1997, offer a fascinating glimpse into ancient life. Discovered by chance in 1709, subsequent excavations have revealed a significant portion of the ancient city, buried by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD.

Ruins of Herculaneum, Italy

Lahars and pyroclastic flows, with their high temperatures, carbonized all organic materials, such as wood, fabrics, and food, thus preserving many aspects of everyday life of the time. Among the most notable finds is the Villa dei Pisoni, also known as Villa dei Papiri, which came to light in modern excavations in the 1990s. In this villa, papyri were found that preserve the texts of Greek philologists in Herculaneum.

Exploring the ruins of Herculaneum is like taking a journey back in time, where you can admire the grandeur and splendor of an ancient civilization, frozen in time by the fury of the volcano. For more information, you can visit the official website at http://ercolano.beniculturali.it/.

Antiquarium of Herculaneum

Antiquarium of Herculaneum, near the Vesuvius ruins

The Antiquarium of Herculaneum, located near the archaeological ruins, offers a complementary and integrative experience to the visit of these historical sites. This space houses an impressive collection of artifacts and statues recovered from the ancient Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum.

It offers the opportunity to learn more about the daily and cultural life of these ancient civilizations. The exhibits showcase a variety of artifacts, from household utensils to magnificently preserved sculptures, providing a unique insight into life in Roman times, deepening the historical and artistic legacy of Pompeii and Herculaneum.

Virtual Archaeological Museum of Herculaneum (MAV)

The Virtual Archaeological Museum of Herculaneum (MAV) is an innovative cultural center that combines cutting-edge technology with historical heritage and cultural communication. Located near the excavations of ancient Herculaneum, the MAV offers a unique and extraordinary experience.

Virtual Archaeological Museum of Herculaneum (MAV)

Inside, the exhibition guides you through an exciting journey back in time, experiencing life in the ancient Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum just before the devastating eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. More than seventy multimedia installations allow these archaeological sites to come to life again, providing a captivating perspective of their former grandeur.

Through scenic reconstructions, visual interfaces, and holograms, the MAV transports visitors to a virtual dimension, where they can explore interactively and playfully the richness of archaeological heritage. It is an educational and cognitive space where the real and the imaginary merge, creating new forms of learning and entertainment.

Located in an area of 5,000 square meters on three levels in the heart of Herculaneum, the MAV is close to other major tourist attractions, such as the archaeological excavations, the vintage Resina market, and Vesuvius National Park. Its strategic location makes it a must-visit destination for those who want to immerse themselves in the fascinating history of the region.

For more information, you can visit the MAV official website: http://www.museomav.it/

Antiquarium of Boscoreale

The Antiquarium of Boscoreale is a place that offers a detailed view of the lifestyle of the ancient populations of Vesuvius during Roman times. Thanks to the archaeological findings from the excavations of Pompeii, Herculaneum, Oplontis, Stabiae, Terzigno, and Boscoreale, the museum reconstructs the naturalistic and landscape reality of the region.

Exhibition of ancient pieces in the Antiquarium of Boscoreale, Italy

This archaeological museum presents a wide collection of artifacts and objects that shed light on the daily life, culture, and customs of the people who inhabited the area in ancient times. From household utensils to works of art, visitors can immerse themselves in the past and gain a deeper understanding of the region’s history.

The Antiquarium of Boscoreale offers an educational and informative experience, allowing visitors to explore the richness of the cultural and archaeological heritage of the Vesuvius area. It is a must-see destination for those interested in the history and archaeology of ancient Rome.

Villa Augustea in Somma Vesuviana

Painting in the dome of Villa Augustea in Somma Vesuviana

Villa Augustea in Somma Vesuviana is a site of remarkable interest, nestled in a region of great agricultural importance. Its location in a flat and gentle area, descending northward toward the Campania plain, offers a suitable environment for agriculture. Despite being about 50 meters above sea level, the sea breeze that arrives in the afternoons gives the feeling of being much closer to the sea than it actually is.

The soils in the area, composed mainly of volcanic materials and silt, are exceptionally fertile and permeable, ideal for a wide variety of crops. From fruit trees like apricots and cherries to red vines, this land has historically been productive and diverse in its crops. For decades, the area was characterized by its dense vegetation, giving it the appearance of an "agricultural forest."

The construction of Villa Augustea dates back to around 120 AD, shortly after the eruption of 79 AD that devastated the region. In this period of vegetative renaissance, the villa was erected as a symbol of human and natural resilience. It is believed that the villa had access to potable water, possibly from nearby springs or the nearby Aqueduct of Augustus.

Restoration project of Villa Augustea in Somma Vesuviana

Decorated with motifs related to the cult of Dionysus and Pan, the villa was adorned with statues and ornaments celebrating the abundance of the land. After being abandoned by its owners in the 3rd century AD, the villa was used as a large cellar, making it one of the most important wine-making facilities in the region at that time.

However, the eruption of Vesuvius in 472 AD drastically changed the landscape and destroyed the villa and its surroundings. The springs disappeared, the cistern dried up, and the course of the Aqueduct of Augustus was altered. Despite the devastation, Villa Augustea remains a tangible testimony of the region’s glorious past and a reminder of the ongoing struggle between nature and humanity. Recovery and preservation efforts are underway to unearth and protect this important archaeological site.

Museum of Rural Arts, Crafts, and Popular Traditions

Museum of Rural Arts, Crafts, and Popular Traditions

The Museum of Rural Arts, Crafts, and Popular Traditions, located in the old cellars and gardens of the S. Maria del Pozzo monumental complex in Somma Vesuviana, is a cultural treasure housing an impressive collection of around 3,200 pieces. These pieces are a valuable testament to rural life from the year 1050 to the present day.

The museum’s exhibition is cleverly organized around the five senses, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the rich history and traditions of the countryside. Each displayed object, used by artisans and peasants in their daily lives, tells a unique story and evokes memories of times past.

Visitors have the opportunity to experience not only history but also the everyday life of the peasant outside the museum. The garden is transformed into an orchard, where a variety of vegetables and medicinal herbs are grown. Additionally, visitors can enjoy the presence of farm animals, adding an extra dimension to the experience.

The Museum of Rural Arts is a meeting place where ancient crafts come to life through events and exhibitions, providing a window to the past and celebrating the region’s rich cultural heritage. For those interested in exploring the history and traditions of the countryside, a visit to this museum is a truly enriching experience.

For more information, you can visit the museum’s official website at: http://www.museocontadino.com/

Vesuvius Observatory

Vesuvius Observatory (Osservatorio Vesuviano)

The Vesuvius Observatory, inaugurated in 1841 by Ferdinand II of the Two Sicilies, is a unique historical and scientific gem in the world. Housed in a neoclassical-style building surrounded by a lush garden with native flora from the Vesuvius area, the observatory boasts an impressive collection of instruments and scientific objects used over the centuries to study volcanic phenomena.

One of the main attractions of the observatory is the exhibition "Vesuvius: 2000 Years of Observations," which offers a fascinating insight into volcanic eruptions throughout history through films, iconographic material, and eruption products. Additionally, visitors have the opportunity to observe in real-time the seismic and geochemical data recorded by the observatory’s monitoring network.

The observatory’s library is a treasure trove for researchers and science enthusiasts, as it houses an extensive collection of bibliographic material on volcanology, seismology, meteorology, paleontology, and botany. It also features a varied selection of periodicals and monographs that provide a comprehensive view of these scientific fields.

For those interested in exploring the history and science behind Vesuvius, a visit to the Vesuvius Observatory offers an educational and enriching experience. For more information, you can visit the observatory’s official website at: http://www.ov.ingv.it/ov/

Emblema Museum and Factory

The Emblema Museum and Factory is a true cultural gem in the region, standing out as a unique institution dedicated to modern and contemporary art.

Emblema Museum and Factory

Run by a non-profit organization, the museum is a permanent initiative established to fulfill the purposes expressed in Regional Law no. 12 of 2005. Founded by the renowned international artist Salvatore Emblema, this museum aims to create an inspiring space in his homeland, Terzigno, on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius, dedicated to the education, study, and promotion of contemporary art.

Recognized by the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism, the museum is considered one of the few examples of a House-Museum in Italy and is of Regional Interest. Visitors have the unique opportunity to explore the artist’s studio, known as the man of Vesuvius, who is widely appreciated in the 20th-century art world and has collaborated with prominent figures such as Mark Rothko, the Fontana sisters, and Federico Fellini. Additionally, his work has been included in Carlo Giulio Argan’s Art History Manual.

For lovers of contemporary art and those interested in discovering the rich cultural history of the region, a visit to the Emblema Museum and Factory is a unique and inspiring experience. For more information, you can visit the museum’s official website at: http://www.salvatoreemblema.it/

Roman Rural Villas of Vesuvius

The heritage of Roman rural villas, known as villae rusticae, offers a beautiful insight into life and production in the ancient region of Mount Vesuvius.

Roman rural villas of Vesuvius

These villas are scattered throughout the ager Pompeianus, the suburban area of Pompeii, and played a vital role in the production network of the 1st century AD on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius and the nearby plain of the Sarno River. In Boscoreale, in particular, archaeological excavations carried out from the late 19th century to the early 20th century have revealed numerous structures, including the Villa della Pisanella, which was later backfilled.

These findings have allowed the discovery and recovery of valuable wall and floor decorations and objects from these villas, many of which are now displayed in renowned museum collections such as the National Museum of Naples, the Louvre in Paris, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Villa Regina

Among the numerous rustic villas studied in the area, the famous Villa Regina in Boscoreale stands out. This villa was known for its prominent wine production activity, evidenced by the presence of different spaces dedicated to grape processing. Among these spaces was the area for grape treading, known as the "calcatorium," as well as the permanent preparations for the installation of the wooden press, called the "torcular." Additionally, the villa had a large cellar that housed hollow clay vessels, known as "dolia defossa," used for wine storage.

The Golden Mile

The Golden Mile is a coastal stretch, nowadays known as SS18, extending from the Neapolitan districts of San Giovanni a Teduccio and Barra, passing through San Giorgio a Cremano, Portici, and Herculaneum, between Mount Vesuvius and the Gulf of Naples. This stretch is home to 122 villas that have been designated as a UNESCO Biosphere Heritage since 1997.

In 1738, Charles of Bourbon and his wife chose Portici as the site for their new palace. This led to the proliferation of sumptuous villas and large gardens in Rococo and Neoclassical styles, designed by renowned architects such as Luigi Vanvitelli, Ferdinando Fuga, Domenico Antonio Vaccaro, and Ferdinando Sanfelice. These villas are still visible in the municipalities of Naples, San Giorgio a Cremano, Portici, Herculaneum, and Torre del Greco.

There are two itineraries to explore this area: the Museum of the Territory and the Villas of Vesuvius, which covers the territory of Herculaneum and allows visits to Villa Campolieto, Villa Ruggiero, and the Sea Park of Villa Favorita; and the Leopardi Museum of Villa delle Ginestre in Torre del Greco, where you can take a guided tour to learn more about Giacomo Leopardi, who lived here and composed some of his most famous poems, such as "La Ginestra" and "Il Tramonto della Luna."

Medieval Village of Casamale

The medieval village of Casamale, located within the perimeter of Vesuvius National Park, is of great historical and architectural interest. Its wall, of Angevin origin and modified in 1467 by order of Ferrante I of Aragon, was erected as a mighty defensive structure to protect Naples. This wall, approximately 1,300 meters long with semicylindrical towers, remains a prominent feature of the village.

Casamale was strategically located and isolated by two natural channels, the Alveo Fossa dei Lioni to the east and the Alveo Cavone to the west, which still exist today.

The Alcantarine Church, nestled between walls, had different occupants throughout its history, first the Carmelite nuns and then the Franciscans of the Alcantarine and Trinitarian fathers.

Within the village is the Collegiate Church, which houses architectural and artistic treasures. Notable is its splendid ceiling, adorned with gilded wooden inlays with pure gold representing spirals of plants and naked cherubs. You can also appreciate a wooden pulpit, an 18th-century pipe organ, and a wooden choir, further enriching Casamale’s cultural heritage.

Alagno Castle

Alagno Castle, an imposing fortified house built by the Aragonese in 1458, is located in the territory of Somma Vesuviana. This castle was erected by order of Lucrezia d’Alagno, lover of King Alfonso I of Aragon, who chose it as her refuge after the monarch’s death. Situated outside the Aragonese walls, near the medieval village of Casamale and towards Mount Somma, this castle has a fascinating history.

Alagno Castle replaced an earlier structure located upstream, in Santa Maria a Castello, dating back to the 10th century. Today, only some remains of this ancient castle exist, due to abandonment and volcanic eruptions.

Over the years, the castle changed owners several times, including Prince De Curtis, known artistically as Totò. In 1998, the municipality acquired the castle with the aim of converting it into a museum and library, thus preserving its rich history for future generations.

Medici Palace

The Medici Palace is an impressive Lombard construction with its earliest records dating back to between 1039 and 1080. Its history is marked by several significant events, such as the visit of Pope Gregory VII in 1083, who took refuge in the palace during his journey to Salerno, escaping from Henry IV.

Over the years, the mansion passed through the hands of various nobles, including Fabrizio Maramaldo and the Princes of Molfetta, Don Cesare Gonzaga, and his son Don Ferrante. However, in 1567, the property acquired new significance when it was purchased by Don Bernadetto de Medici, nephew of Cosimo the Elder.

Known by all as the "Palace of the Prince," this fortress became a symbol of power and prestige for the Medici family. Today, the palace houses the headquarters of Vesuvius National Park, preserving its rich history and providing a space for the administration and conservation of this important natural heritage.

Church of Our Lady of Grace

The Church of Our Lady of Grace, initially a modest chapel in the village of Trecase, was elevated to the status of parish church in 1587 by a papal bull granted by Pope Sixtus V. Two years later, in 1589, it underwent significant renovation to accommodate the continuous population growth, being expanded and restructured with a more spacious and dignified design.

Today, this church is a magnificent example of Baroque architecture, notable for its beauty and historical significance. During the prosperous era of Vesuvius villas in the 18th century, many noble families from Naples and the region built their summer residences in this territory. Taking advantage of this context, in 1723, the Church of Our Lady of Grace underwent another phase of restructuring and expansion, acquiring the configuration that distinguishes it today.

Casa Bianca Farmhouse

The Casa Bianca Farmhouse, located on the slopes of Vesuvius in the municipality of Boscotrecase, stands out for its uniqueness and its surroundings, characterized by vast expanses of dark and arid lava, distinguished by the presence of lime plaster.

Since the second half of the 19th century, this place has served various roles, functioning not only as a farmhouse but also as an inn, tavern, and rest area for the horses of travelers heading towards the Great Cone of Vesuvius. Among the illustrious visitors who passed through here was Priest Achille Ratti, who, after becoming Pope Pius XI, ascended to this place during his time as a member of the Italian Alpine Club of Milan.

From an architectural point of view, Casa Bianca is notable for its charming porticoed area, originally covered with a barrel vault, probably inspired by similar architectural solutions used in the restoration of the House of the Silver Wedding at the excavations of Pompeii.

Church of Santa Maria di Pugliano in Herculaneum

The Church of Santa Maria di Pugliano in Herculaneum is a sanctuary with a rich history dating back to the 11th century, and since 1574 it has been recognized as a papal basilica. Already in the Middle Ages, this place was known, and during the excavations for the construction of the church, two beautiful sarcophagi from the Roman era were discovered, which are still preserved inside and are of great artistic interest.

From the outside, the Basilica presents a combination of structures from different eras, preserving only the bell tower from the original structure. Inside the church, which has a three-nave layout with side chapels, notable works of art can be appreciated.

Complex of Santa Maria del Pozzo

The Complex of Santa Maria del Pozzo is an impressive monumental ensemble that narrates the history of religious settlements in the area, which were buried and reconstructed on several levels due to periodic flooding caused by the slopes of nearby Mount Somma.

According to an ancient local legend, a Roman temple dedicated to Jupiter existed at the site of this sanctuary, which was later transformed into a place of Christian worship. The small chapel located inside the sanctuary, on the lowest level, is believed to have been part of an ancient Roman wine cellar. This chapel features, above the barrel vault, the entrance of a well, from which the name "Madonna del Pozzo" (Our Lady of the Well) originates.

Above the chapel stands the church built in 1333 by King Robert of Anjou, and later, in the year 1500, Queen Joanna of Aragon ordered the construction of the convent and the church above it.

Sanctuary of the Madonna dell’Arco

The Sanctuary of the Madonna dell’Arco has its origins in a miracle that occurred on April 6, 1450, when a young man was playing pall mall in Sant’Anastasia. When he tried to hit the ball, it struck the left cheek of a sacred image in a votive sanctuary dedicated to the Madonna dell’Arco, named so because of its proximity to the remains of arches from a Roman aqueduct. The image began to bleed, which attracted numerous faithful and led to the construction of a sanctuary dedicated to her in 1593.

Construction work was completed in 1610 and included the original votive hermitage and the first church erected around it. The project was supervised by architect Giovan Cola di Franco, known for his work on the Church of Santa Maria La Nova and the Chapel of San Gennaro in the Naples Cathedral. The sanctuary houses a choir carved in walnut and several notable paintings, such as the Adoration of the Magi by Luca Giordano. Additionally, it contains a small temple that houses the sacred image of the Virgin, commissioned in 1621 to Bartolomeo Picchiatti.

The portals of the sanctuary are adorned with biblical scenes in copper. Every year, on Easter Monday, the sanctuary is the destination of the traditional pilgrimage of the fujenti or battenti, an event that attracts thousands of faithful.

Fauna of Vesuvius

Thanks to its unique location and the variety of habitats it offers, Vesuvius National Park has become a crucial point for wildlife, serving as a meeting place for different species. Isolated from the Apennines and surrounded by continental Mediterranean environments, this park represents an important zoogeographical intersection.

The proximity to the coast, its position as the only mountain in the middle of the Nola plain, and favorable climatic conditions have created a vital refuge for migratory fauna, as well as a home for various species in a relatively small area. Additionally, the remaining rural areas, although limited in extent, provide specific habitats that allow the survival of species adapted to them. All this has contributed to studies on mesofauna in protected areas, funded by the Ministry of the Environment, Land and Sea Protection, to better understand the distribution of certain species in the protected area.

The rural diversity, especially at the boundaries between different agricultural systems, favors the dispersal of species within and outside the park. This variety of habitats has resulted in diverse faunal communities, including birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians. These species, like the vegetation, participate in cyclical recolonization processes, making the Vesuvius volcanic complex a valuable biodiversity treasure worth protecting.

Mammals in the Park

In recent decades, significant changes in forest cover have had a notable impact on mammal communities in the Vesuvius region.

Despite its relatively small protected area and its condition as a "biogeographical island," a total of 29 mammal species have been identified in the area, indicating considerable diversity.

Most of these species have crepuscular and nocturnal habits, adapting to the changing environmental conditions. The most common mammals in the region are rodents and insectivores, which form a fundamental part of the food chain and are prey for many local predators.

Among the most widespread species are the garden dormouse (Eliomys quercinus), recognizable by its black mask and long tail, which inhabits the mixed forests of Mount Somma. Also found are the edible dormouse (Glis glis), present in forests and cultivated areas, and the hazel dormouse (Muscardinus avellanarius), small in size and reddish in color.

These species, along with others present in the region, indicate the importance of conserving and protecting the natural habitats in the Vesuvius area to ensure the survival of its diverse mammal community.

Birds

Located along the migratory routes of Western Palearctic birds, the volcanic area of the park serves as a refuge and resting point for many species during their long migratory journeys, becoming an ideal habitat as it is situated along the coast. This geographical location makes it an ideal spot for migratory birds to stop and refuel after crossing the Mediterranean.

The ornithological diversity of Vesuvius National Park is supported by a wide range of habitats, both natural and modified by human activity. This territory is home to around 150 bird species, including migratory, wintering, and resident birds that breed in the region.

Among the migratory birds visiting the park are species like the marsh harrier (Circus aeruginosus), the lesser kestrel (Falco naumanni), the European roller (Coracias garrulus), and the European bee-eater (Merops apiaster).

A recent study conducted by the Park Authority analyzed the bird communities that nest and winter in the volcanic complex. Of the 89 species studied, 71 are nesting birds and 16 are migratory and wintering birds. It was found that 46 of the 71 nesting species are permanent residents in the region, which is notable given the extent of the protected territory.

Some of these species are listed in Annex 1 of the Habitats Directive, highlighting their importance for conservation. These include the honey buzzard (Pernis apivorus), the peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus), the nightjar (Caprimulgus europaeus), the lesser spotted woodpecker (Dendrocopos minor), recently discovered as a breeding species on Mount Somma, the common rock thrush (Monticola saxatilis), and the common raven (Corvus corax), the latter with two pairs on the volcano.

The presence of these species, some of which prefer rocky habitats like the common blackbird, underscores the importance of conserving high-altitude areas such as the Great Cone and the ridges of Mount Somma. Other species indicate the ecological recovery of the forests in the park, serving as indicators of the ecosystem’s health.

Amphibians and Reptiles

The Vesuvius Park is home to two species of amphibians and eight species of reptiles.

Among the amphibians, we find the edible frog and the European green toad. However, in the past, the region hosted other species that have disappeared, such as the spectacled salamander (Salamandrina terdigitata). The historical presence of this salamander has been a topic of zoological debate, and it is believed to have been discovered and described for the first time in Vesuvius in the early 19th century.

The scarcity of water bodies and intense human activity in the area have limited the presence of amphibians in the region.

The European green toad (Bufo viridis) is a species widely distributed on the eastern, northern, and western flanks of the volcanic complex. Protected by the European Community Habitat Directive, this toad has emerald green spots on its back and concentrates its reproductive activity in a few days of spring, taking advantage of temporary pools formed by the first seasonal rains.

Invertebrates

The Somma-Vesuvius volcanic complex hosts a rich diversity of invertebrates, partly due to its varied ecological mosaic formed by the combination of its eruptive history, human impact, and geographic location. Despite its relative isolation, this area represents an important refuge and colonization area for arthropod species, some of which are rare or endangered in other regions.

Thanks to recent research, an impressive total of 1,229 species of arthropods have been identified in the territory of Vesuvius National Park. This figure underscores the importance of this environment as a vital habitat for a wide range of organisms, including insects, spiders, crustaceans, and other arthropods.

This diversity of invertebrates plays a crucial role in local ecosystems, participating in key processes such as the decomposition of organic matter, plant pollination, and regulation of other organisms’ populations. Additionally, the presence of rare or threatened species highlights the need to conserve and protect this valuable natural sanctuary to ensure the survival of all its fauna, from mammals to tiny arthropods.

Flora of Vesuvius

The flora of Vesuvius National Park is a testament to nature’s resilience and adaptability in the face of eruptions and environmental changes. With more than 1,000 plant species colonizing the area over time, today we can find around 744 floristic entities, with only 2% being endemic species, resulting from the multiple recolonizations following volcanic eruptions.

Among these species are the rare Silene giraldii, shared with the islands of Capri and Ischia, and the Etna broom (Genista aetnensis), an endemic species introduced to Vesuvius after the 1906 eruption, forming dense forests in areas such as Atrio del Cavallo and Valle dell’Inferno.

The Mediterranean vegetation is well represented, thanks to the proximity to the sea and moderate altitudes, reaching its highest point at the 1,281 meters above sea level of the Great Cone of Vesuvius.

Noteworthy among the species are 19 confirmed types of wild orchids, protected due to their rarity and vulnerability according to the 1973 Washington Convention. Small groups of birches (Betula pendula), relics of mesophilic forests that once covered the volcano’s slopes in past times when climatic conditions were wetter and cooler than today, can also be observed.

Maquis Shrubland and Forests of the Region

The maquis shrubland and mesophilic forests are key components of the landscape of Vesuvius National Park.

The maquis shrubland is characterized by its dense and varied vegetation, mainly composed of shrubs and small trees, rarely exceeding 4-5 meters in height. This evergreen, often aromatic vegetation forms a dense network of species adapted to Mediterranean conditions, with mild, wet winters and hot, dry summers. The floristic biodiversity of the maquis is notable, with tree species such as holm oaks and oaks, and a wide range of shrubs, including myrtle, strawberry tree, laurel, and mastic, among others.

The maquis on Vesuvius tends to be xerophilous, with small, leathery leaves that reduce water loss during drought periods. During the summer, many of these species enter a vegetative rest state to conserve resources.

The Mediterranean shrubland on Vesuvius, although not very dense, hosts a variety of plants such as brooms, sorrels, valerian, and helichrysum. In more rugged areas, the vegetation is more sparse, with limited populations of species such as docks and Etna brooms, resulting from historical forestry interventions.

These shrublands and forests not only contribute to the scenic beauty of Vesuvius but also play a crucial role in the conservation of biodiversity and ecosystem stability in the region.

Birch Shrubland

The shrubland of Vesuvius National Park is marked by the presence of various broom species, which are characteristic of many plant associations in the maquis. These plants, belonging to the legume family, are known for their ability to colonize even the most challenging environments. Their presence is especially notable in large areas of the park, where the intense yellow of their flowers dominates the landscapes during the spring.

Brooms play a crucial role in the colonization of volcanic areas, as revealed by research funded by the Ministry of Environment, Land and Sea Protection through the "Biodiversity Directive," titled "Influence of Temperature Increase on the Pioneer Plant Communities of Vesuvius."

In Vesuvius National Park, some of the most representative broom species include Spanish broom, Scotch broom, and Etna broom. These plants not only contribute to the diversity and beauty of Vesuvius’ landscapes but also play an important role in the process of ecological succession and in the recovery of ecosystems after volcanic events.

Orchids

Orchids are truly remarkable in their elegance and delicacy, as well as their surprising variety of colors and forms. They are one of the most diverse plant families in the world, with more than 25,000 different species distributed globally, except in extremely cold or desert regions.

Although most species are found in intertropical areas, Italy stands out as one of the European countries with notable orchid diversity, hosting around one hundred different species.

These herbaceous plants develop flower stalks from an underground part, with terminal leaves and flowers that gather in inflorescences during spring, mainly in May. Some species, such as those of the genus Spiranthes, can also bloom in autumn.

The exquisite beauty and fragility of orchids make them a botanical treasure worthy of admiration and protection in Vesuvius National Park and any other environment where they are found.

Viticulture

Agricultural biodiversity has been a distinctive feature of the slopes of Mount Vesuvius since ancient times.

The fertile soil, composed of volcanic rocks, combined with a temperate climate marked by mild winters and hot, dry summers, provided a favorable environment for the development of prosperous and diversified agriculture.

During Roman times, although the true volcanic nature of Vesuvius was unknown, the fertility of its slopes, enriched with minerals, especially potassium, was recognized.

The vine, introduced to Campania by the Greeks over 3,000 years ago, has been one of the most prominent agricultural productions in the Vesuvius region. However, along with the vine, a wide variety of crops have thrived on this land over the centuries, creating a rich agricultural diversity that has fed local communities and contributed to the cultural wealth of the region.

Fungi, Mushrooms, and Fungal Biodiversity

Within Vesuvius National Park, more than 200 different species of mushrooms can be found, highlighting the rich fungal biodiversity of the region.

Fungi are fascinating organisms that have long been debated in terms of their taxonomic classification. Although once considered part of the plant kingdom and even animal by some scholars, they have been recognized as forming their own kingdom.

Unlike plants, fungi are heterotrophs, meaning they cannot produce their own nutrients and depend on other organisms for sustenance. This, along with their spore-based reproductive system and other peculiarities of their cellular structure, justifies their separate classification.

Fungi play a crucial role in biological cycles by decomposing plant and animal organic matter, contributing to the breakdown of organic waste that plants cannot directly use. Additionally, many fungi establish symbiotic relationships with tree species, providing them with essential minerals for growth and metabolism.

This diversity of fungi within Vesuvius National Park is a testament to the complexity and interconnection of the ecosystems present in the region.

Crater of Vesuvius

The natural trail No. 5 "Il Gran Cono" begins from the Piazzale di Quota 1000, a parking area located 1,000 meters above sea level in the municipality of Herculaneum, at the end of the Strada Provinciale Ercolano-Vesuvio. At this point, managed by Vesuvius National Park, parking is not allowed, and restroom facilities are currently unavailable. It is important to keep this in mind when planning your hiking excursion. For those arriving by car, parking and rest areas along the provincial road are managed by the municipality of Herculaneum.

From the Piazzale, you can enjoy an impressive view of the northern slope of Mount Somma, with the mighty Cognoli di Sant’Anastasia and Punta Nasone, the peak of the ancient volcano rising to 1,132 meters, facing the Cognoli di Ottaviano and Levante. Looking upwards, you can anticipate with excitement the ascent towards the lower edge of the Sterminator Vesevo.

Trails

The trails of Vesuvius National Park offer a unique experience of exploration and discovery. Between 2001 and 2003, the park established a "Network of Walkways of Vesuvius National Park," consisting of 11 trails with a total length of 54 kilometers. These trails were carefully designed to offer a variety of experiences, from circular natural routes to educational and panoramic trails.

Each trail is equipped with specific signage describing the main natural, geological, and historical features that can be found along the way. Additionally, significant risk mitigation work was carried out to ensure visitor safety. This included the stabilization and consolidation of vulnerable areas through the construction of palisades, metal railings, and stone walls, among other measures.

The six circular natural trails (Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 8) allow hikers to immerse themselves in the natural beauty of the surroundings, while the educational trail (No. 9) provides the opportunity to learn about the area’s flora, fauna, and geology. The panoramic trail (No. 6) offers impressive views of the surrounding landscape, and the agricultural trail (No. 7) reveals the rich agricultural history of the region.

With its variety of trails and the attention dedicated to safety and education, the trails of Vesuvius National Park are the perfect setting for an outdoor adventure full of discoveries.

Trail No. 1: Valley of Hell

After an initial uphill stretch, the path joins Trail No. 2, "Lungo i Cognoli," reaching an enlargement called Largo Angelo Prisco, named after the financier of the same name who was killed in 1995. From this point, the trail splits in two, marked by a commemorative plaque.

The path continues to the left, passing through a forest with Italian alders and alternating between shaded and sunny sections. It reaches an open space dominated by pyroclastic deposits, with views of the volcano and fields of brooms. This stretch offers an intense experience, with the aroma of yellow flowers and the sight of lava domes and eruptive vents.

The end of this stretch coincides with the intermediate destination, where the path rejoins the Strada Matrone. If you continue uphill and take a right turn, you reach the Valley of Hell, where you can find majestic rock walls and cliff-dwelling birds. The trail then joins the "Lungo i Cognoli" path, passing through tunnels formed by viscous lava.

After enjoying the panoramic views, you return to Largo Angelo Prisco and then to the starting point. This route offers an exciting and varied experience, with impressive landscapes and the opportunity to explore the volcanic nature of the area.

Length 12,390 meters in total
Maximum Altitude 1,000 meters above sea level
Duration 7.5 hours in total
Difficulty High (long path)
Start/End Point Ottaviano/Monte Somma

Trail No. 2: Cognoli

The route offers the opportunity to explore the most suggestive and natural landscapes of the Somma-Vesuvius area, traversing diverse forest environments, from dense maquis shrubland to areas of bare volcanic rock.

The starting point is located along the road from the Medici Palace in Ottaviano to the volcanic complex. After a first common part with Trail No. 1, marked by a traffic barrier, the path winds through tight asphalt curves and then enters a dirt road.

The vegetation varies from a dense forest of stone pines to a mesophilic forest, with the presence of chestnuts, Italian alders, Italian maples, holm oaks, and black locusts. Among the bird species nesting in the area, the spotted woodpecker, a rare and localized species in Campania, has found refuge in Vesuvius Park. After a steep climb of over 1 kilometer, you reach Largo Angelo Prisco, a reference point named after the young financier killed by poachers in 1995.

From this point, Trail No. 1 branches off to the left, while our itinerary continues to the right in a gentle ascent, passing through a shady chestnut forest where mushrooms emit an intense and pleasant aroma.

After about 1,200 meters, there is a bar and, to the right, a branch initially passable and then pedestrian, connecting Trail No. 2 with Trail No. 3 from Santa Maria di Castello to Punta Nasone. However, a landslide currently blocks this connection. Continuing on our path, we enter a dense forest of stone pines and cluster pines, with the addition of species like the Italian alder and European hornbeam.

At the end of the forest, the path opens to broom vegetation, with the presence of gypsum panels from the Bourbon era. After ascending some tight curves, we reach a junction where we take the right path, leading to a panoramic square, our intermediate destination.

Trail No. 3: Monte Somma

This circular route leads to Punta Nasone, the highest peak of Monte Somma, with an altitude of 1,132 meters above sea level.

In the first part of the route, you can walk along 800 meters of the ancient Via Traversa, adapted for blind and disabled people. A fence with rope handrails flanks this accessible path, with tactile markers every 100 meters. Along this route, you can observe numerous species of brooms.

The route offers beautiful views of the Gulf of Naples, which are just a preview of the wonderful vistas to be enjoyed further along. After passing a sharp left turn, you enter a forest of black locusts and chestnuts. The route continues until you reach a junction: one path leads to a rainwater collection reservoir, while the climb to Monte Somma continues to the right via stairs.

The path becomes steep and is characterized by dense vegetation. Shaded wooden sections alternate with open areas of broom shrubs, which in spring are adorned with bright orange lilies. From the Cognoli di Trocchia and Sant’Anastasia, you can admire views of the Gulf of Naples, the Campania plain, and the Alto Vesuvio reserve, among others.

At the top of Punta Nasone, there are small huts for resting, a chapel dedicated to Santa Maria, and a large cross, elements tied to ancient civil and religious rites, such as the Mountain Festival. This festival commemorates when the faithful climb Monte Somma from the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Castello (Somma Vesuviana).

**Length:** 7,650 meters in total
**Maximum Altitude:** 1,132 meters above sea level
**Duration:** 5.5 hours in total
**Difficulty:** High
**Start/End Point:** Somma Vesuviana

Trail No. 4: Tirone-Alto Vesuvio Forest Reserve

This trail is located within the Tirone-Alto Vesuvio Forest Reserve, which covers about 1,000 hectares.

After the entrance gate, you immediately enter a pine forest, the result of reforestation work carried out by the State Forestry Corps to stabilize the unstable slopes of Vesuvius.

In the dry lava stone walls flanking the path, it is easy to recognize the navelwort, an herbaceous plant with fleshy, round leaves. In spring, various species of wild orchids bloom among the undergrowth. The underbrush includes typical Mediterranean flora species, such as mastic, myrtle, laurel, and rosemary.

The total length of the route is 11,260 meters, with a maximum altitude of 625 meters above sea level. The estimated duration is 6 hours in total, with medium difficulty. The start and end point is the SP Herculaneum-Vesuvio.

Various animal species inhabit these forests, including the rare Aesculapian snake.

After the broom scrub, the path gently ascends until reaching Baracche Forestali, where Disney Magica De Spell’s house is located. Continuing straight, you can enjoy a panoramic view of the blue sea of the Gulf of Naples and the arid slopes of the Great Cone. The path offers a pleasant variant that leads to the area of the old funicular and ends in a beautiful panoramic square with a rest stop.

Trail No. 5: The Great Cone of Vesuvius Crater

The natural trail No. 5 "Il Gran Cono" begins at Piazzale di Quota 1000, a parking area located 1,000 meters above sea level in the municipality of Herculaneum, at the end of the Strada Provinciale Ercolano-Vesuvio. At Piazzale, managed by Vesuvius National Park, parking is not allowed, and public restrooms are currently unavailable. Keep this in mind when planning your hiking trip.

From Piazzale, you can already enjoy a splendid view of the northern slope of Mount Somma with the Cognoli di Sant’Anastasia and Punta Nasone, the peak of the ancient volcano at 1,132 meters high, facing the Cognoli di Ottaviano and Levante. Looking upwards, you can hold your breath and visualize what the ascent to the lower edge of the Sterminator Vesevo will be like.

**Opening hours and access prices to the Vesuvius crater cone:**

  • January – February – November – December: 9:00 – 15:00
  • March – October: 9:00 – 16:00
  • April – May – June – September: 9:00 – 17:00
  • July – August: 9:00 – 18:00

**Admission fees:**

  • Reduced: 8 €
  • Regular: 10 €

How to Reach the Vesuvius Crater by Car

To reach the Vesuvius crater, follow these directions:

By car: Take the A3 Napoli-Salerno motorway and exit at Torre del Greco. From the Torre del Greco exit, take the second exit at the roundabout and follow the signs to "Vesuvio." Continue on via Enrico De Nicola and then on via Vesuvio. At the end of via Vesuvio, take the first exit at the roundabout towards Contrada Osservatorio and follow the SP144 until you reach the parking lot located at 800 meters above sea level (15 minutes, 7.3 km).

From the parking lot at 800 meters to the parking lot at 1,000 meters (entrance to natural trail No. 5 "Il Gran Cono del Vesuvio"), you have two options:

  • On foot, along the SP144 for about 30 minutes (1.8 km).
  • With the shuttle service managed by the Municipality of Herculaneum, costing 1.00 € per trip, taking about 4 minutes.

GPS coordinates at 800 meters above sea level: 40.828248, 14.414986

How to Reach the Vesuvius Crater by Bus or Train

To reach Vesuvius by train or bus from Capodichino Airport or Central Station – Piazza Garibaldi in Naples, follow these instructions:

  1. From Capodichino Airport or Central Station – Piazza Garibaldi, take a bus to Stazione Centrale – Piazza Garibaldi (Naples Central Station).
  2. At Stazione Centrale – Piazza Garibaldi, look for Circumvesuviana trains to Sorrento or Poggiomarino via Pompeii. You can check schedules and ticket prices on the EAV website.
  3. Board the train and get off at Ercolano Scavi station. From here, you will find taxis and private shuttles to take you to Vesuvius.
  4. Another option is to take the Circumvesuviana trains to Sorrento or Poggiomarino via Pompeii from Stazione Centrale – Piazza Garibaldi and get off at the Pompeii – Villa dei Misteri train station. From there, you can catch one of the local EAV buses to Vesuvius.
  5. If you are in Sorrento, you can also take a Circumvesuviana train to Pompeii – Villa dei Misteri and then switch to one of the local EAV buses to Vesuvius.

Remember that the local EAV service provides bus connections from Pompeii to Vesuvius. Check their website for more information on bus schedules.

(There is an intermediate stop available at the Observatory, near "Il fiume di lava," trail No. 9 of Vesuvius National Park).

Trail No. 6: The Matrona

The Matrona Trail follows the old path used by the Matrone brothers to ascend to the Great Cone from the Boscotrecase slope. After almost three decades of construction, marked by destruction due to sudden lava eruptions and subsequent reconstructions, the road was inaugurated on January 4, 1927.

This 8 km trail begins with a concrete section and then turns into a dirt path, leading hikers to a clearing at 1,050 meters above sea level, from where they can continue on foot to the Great Cone of Vesuvius.

Recently renovated with funds from Vesuvius National Park, the trail was severely damaged by a fire in 2017. However, it now allows tourists and hikers to access the Great Cone again from the Boscotrecase side, complementing the existing access from Herculaneum.

This will help distribute tourist flow and reduce human impact on the territory, while offering a more sustainable and green option for access by bike and on foot.

Trail No. 7: Valle del Profica

The Valle del Profica Trail, partly agricultural, ascends the eastern slopes of Monte Somma, starting from the church of Santa Maria La Scala, where the entrance to Via Profica Paliata is located.

In its first stretch, it traverses a diverse rural environment: on the left are fruit trees such as figs, apricots, cherries, and plums, while on the right are vineyards, hazelnut trees, and some chestnut trees. The most common birds in the area include the flycatcher, the stonechat, the nightingale, and the serin, along with the golden oriole, which displays its yellow and black feathers and melodic song in summer.

The trail gently runs over a hill, with views of the Cognoli di Ottaviano and Levante in the background, and later the eastern slopes of Mount Vesuvius. At the two intersections along the route, we must stay to the left.

As we proceed from the second intersection, the landscape gradually gives way to mixed forest, predominantly oak woodland with a rich and diverse underbrush. The field birds are replaced by forest birds, such as the red-headed woodpecker, green woodpecker, Eurasian wryneck, and nuthatch.

After crossing a stone pine forest, we continue to the right until we reach a chestnut grove with a rich underbrush. At 410 meters above sea level, we encounter wooden stairs that facilitate the ascent to the crests of Monte Somma from the western side. These crests offer views of the valleys of Monte Somma, with Vallone Tagliente to the right and Vallone della Profica to the left.

Following the crests over a substrate of lava and pyroclastics from the ancient volcanic apparatus, we proceed approximately 900 meters. Upon reaching an altitude of 730 meters, the trail intersects with two other trails, No. 1 and No. 2. From here, you can continue your hike or return to the parking area.

Trail No. 8: Trenino a Cremagliera

The trail follows the historic ascent route to Mount Vesuvius from San Sebastiano to the hill where the Vesuvius Observatory is located. It traverses part of the track of the old cog railway that connected the Central Electric Station (now known as Cook Station, owned by Vesuvius National Park and recently renovated) with the Observatory.

This cog railway section, used on steep slopes, was part of a railway line that from 1903 transported tourists from Pugliano (Herculaneum) to the lower station of the funicular. However, the 1944 eruption irreparably destroyed the funicular, and it was replaced in 1953 by a chairlift that closed in 1984 due to wind.

The trail, with a total length of 2,906 meters and a maximum altitude of 538 meters above sea level, takes approximately 2 hours and is of medium difficulty. It starts in San Sebastiano al Vesuvio and crosses cultivated fields and the spectacular 1944 lava flow. Along the way, you can observe various bird species and a fumarole emitting volcanic heat.

After passing through a mixed forest and reaching a viewpoint with a view of the Gulf of Naples, the trail continues to the provincial road. It is recommended to divert along Trail No. 9 to enjoy an impressive view of the 1944 lava flow. Finally, return to the starting point by following the same route in reverse.

Trail No. 9: River of Lava

The "River of Lava" trail offers the unique experience of walking over a lava flow, surrounded by an almost lunar landscape. It begins near the Vesuvius Observatory and offers the opportunity to visit the annexed museum, which displays ancient scientific instruments and a permanent exhibition on volcanoes.

The trail starts downhill, entering a lush forest with carob trees, chestnuts, hazelnuts, and oaks, while the underbrush hosts hawthorns. Passing through a bottleneck with pumice stone walls from 79 AD, you reach a widening where there is a Bourbon well and a specimen of elderberry.

With a total length of 1,039 meters and a maximum altitude of 568 meters above sea level, the trail takes approximately 1 hour and is of low difficulty. After an initial uphill stretch, the terrain becomes flat. The underbrush is enriched with plants such as spurge, ivy, and black bryony, while various species of orchids bloom in spring.

The trail ends at the "river of lava," where the pioneer lichen Stereocaulon vesuvianum tints the landscape a silvery gray. From here, you can enjoy panoramic views of the Neapolitan Gulf and the slopes of Vesuvius. The lava flow dates from the 1944 eruption, the last recorded in the area.

To return, follow the same path in reverse until you reach the starting point.

Trail No. 10: Olivella

The Olivella trail takes you through the countryside of Sant’Anastasia to the springs of the same name, an unusual phenomenon in the park due to the permeability of volcanic rocks. The route starts in the center of Sant’Anastasia, gently ascending through rural landscapes with vineyards and orchards, where the apricot stands out, with more than 80 endemic varieties.

With a total length of 3,730 meters and a maximum altitude of 370 meters above sea level, the trail takes approximately 2.5 hours and is of low difficulty. Along the way, you can see the Stations of the Cross signs and enjoy views of Monte Somma and the maquis.

After approximately 1.5 km, you will reach a junction and continue to the right, where a bar marks the start of the dirt path leading to the springs. The springs are protected by small gates to preserve their history. In the area, you can find a statue of Santa Maria and a wall showing the layers of volcanic products.

The presence of water in Olivella attracts a diverse faunal community, including micromammals and birds such as the nightingale and the Sardinian warbler. The return follows the same outbound path in reverse, offering an opportunity to enjoy the rural landscape and the charming natural details of the surroundings once again.

Trail No. 11: Terzigno Pinewood

The Terzigno Pinewood trail offers a pleasant and accessible walk, designed for people with limited abilities, located in Piana Tonda. With a total length of 1,500 meters and a maximum altitude of 211 meters above sea level, the route takes approximately 30 minutes and is of low difficulty.

This trail passes through an area with a recent lava substrate where a pine forest was planted in the 20th century and is currently recovering. Visitors can enjoy the beauty and diversity of the Vesuvius landscape, accompanied only by the song of local birds.

Despite being fully accessible, the trail offers different views and diverse landscapes, including shaded pine areas, sunny stretches in the Maquis shrubland, and arid pyroclastic substrate areas. During the walk, you can admire the western side of Mount Vesuvius.

The path is designed to allow visitors to stay close to the trees and local vegetation, especially the Maquis shrubs, to enjoy their view, smell, and touch.

The Terzigno Pinewood trail is ideal for those who want to experience the typical Vesuvius environments with a simple walk and for sports enthusiasts looking for ideal conditions for their training in a relatively small but fully representative space of the beauty of the National Park.

History, Culture, and Traditions of Vesuvius

Vesuvius National Park is dedicated not only to the preservation of cultural and environmental heritage but also to promoting initiatives aimed at revitalizing the historical memory and the intimate connection between humans and nature in these places. Through intervention strategies, the park seeks to identify sites where one can experience something unique, complementary to the classic tourist itineraries.

These initiatives aim to highlight the rich history, cultural diversity, and deep-rooted traditions of the region. By promoting the exploration of these aspects, Vesuvius National Park offers visitors the opportunity to immerse themselves in the area’s history and better understand the relationship between local communities and their natural environment.

Festivities and Songs of Mount Vesuvius

The festivities and songs of Mount Vesuvius offer a unique glimpse into the region’s rich cultural tradition. Among the most important musical forms are the "Tammurriate," characterized by their vibrant rhythm and lyrics that often address social and political themes. "Fronne ‘e limone" is another distinctive musical form, focusing on work songs related to lemon harvesting, while "Canti ‘a figliola" are traditional lullabies passed down through generations.

These musical forms have their roots in the history and daily life of local communities and have been transmitted over time as a way to keep the region’s culture and identity alive. During religious festivals and other cultural events, these songs and dances are an integral part of the celebration, providing a sense of community and connection to the land and its traditions.

Despite the economic and social changes that have occurred in the region in recent decades, these musical traditions remain an important part of life on Mount Vesuvius. Through their music and celebrations, local communities continue to honor their cultural heritage and strengthen their social ties. These festivities and songs are not only an expression of local identity but also a source of inspiration and emotion for those who experience them from outside.

Madonna dell’Arco

The Madonna dell’Arco festival in Sant’Anastasia, celebrated on Easter Monday, is one of the most prominent in Marian worship in Campania, attracting a large number of devotees. What makes this celebration unique and popular are the "fujenti" (the runners), who are the protagonists in all aspects of the festivity. Organized into associations, these fujenti arrive at the sanctuary in groups called "paranze" from different parts of the Naples province.

The fujenti wear a distinctive uniform of white with blue and red bands and carry "toselli," votive statues made of wood and papier-mâché that are characteristic of this festival. The music accompanying the procession consists of marches performed by local bands and "tammurriate," which are traditional folk songs of the region.

A highlight of the festival is the numerous votive tablets found in the sanctuary’s museum. These tablets are testimonies of miracles attributed to the intercession of the Madonna dell’Arco, adding a strong miraculous context to the worship and increasing the devotion of the faithful to this Marian figure.

The Four Altars

The Four Altars Festival is the most significant event in Torre del Greco and is celebrated in June, eight days after Corpus Christi. This festivity commemorates the "baronial redemption" of the city of Vesuvius in 1699.

The highlight of the festival is the preparation of the four altars, created by painters, sculptors, and architects. These altars are located in four different squares in the city: Largo del Carmine, Largo San Giuseppe, Marina della Città, and Piazza Santa Croce. Each altar represents sacred themes known as "mysteries" and is adorned with elaborate "carpets" made of sawdust and colored powders, contributing to a rich scenography.

The celebration lasts three days and is filled with activities, including parades with the sacred cart, popular music performances, and tammurriate. The festivity culminates with the traditional fireworks over the sea, a spectacular and much-anticipated event by locals and visitors alike.

Lantern Festival

The Lantern Festival is an event celebrated every four years at the beginning of August in the walled village of Casamale di Somma Vesuviana. This festival, rooted in the cult of Madonna della Neve, dates back to ancient fertility rituals marking the end of summer.

During the festival, the narrow streets of the village are illuminated by thousands of oil lamps arranged in wooden frames of different geometric shapes and gradual sizes, creating a charming atmosphere. The entire village is decorated with canopies of branches, ferns, colored papers, and pumpkins illuminated from the inside. Additionally, live scenes of rural life are performed for the delight of visitors.

It is important to note that the Lantern Festival is celebrated without music, except for a special moment during the procession of Santa Maria della Neve on August 5th, when a women’s choir sings from balconies and terraces to announce the passage of the Saint.

Another significant event in the Vesuvius area is the festival dedicated to the Virgin of the Castle in Somma Vesuviana. This festivity takes place from Easter Saturday to May 3rd around the namesake sanctuary built at the end of the 15th century. During these days, large bonfires are lit at night around the sanctuary and on the mountain slopes to ward off fear and symbolize flowing lava.

Pilgrimages are constant during these days, but the "paranze" (organized groups) stand out as protagonists. They are responsible for preparing banquets, bonfires, and honoring the Madonna Pacchiana with a rich repertoire of traditional songs and dances such as the fronne, the canti a ffigliola, and the tammurriate. The festival culminates with the preparation of the "perca," a chestnut branch decorated with flowers, fruits, and foods offered to the Virgin while singing the canti a ffigliola.

Saint Michael the Archangel

Saint Michael the Archangel is the patron saint of the city of Ottaviano, and in his honor, a festival is celebrated at the beginning of May, with May 8th being the highlight of the festivities. The festival begins at dawn with the "diana," a series of fireworks launched from different neighborhoods guiding the population to the Church of Saint Michael. During this journey, both adults and children follow the parade.

Once at the church, a mass is celebrated, followed by a procession that includes the participation of musical bands. One of the most notable moments of the day is the "Flight of the Angels," in which a boy and a girl dressed as angels are suspended in the air by a system of ropes operated by pulleys. As they move over the crowd, they sing a very old hymn to the Archangel, accompanied by the band. This flight is repeated four times in the main squares of Ottaviano’s historic center.

On May 10th, the "Donkey Palio" takes place, a traditional livestock fair that includes a donkey race and a final fireworks show under Mount Somma. In addition to these activities, the patronal festivities also include concerts of classical music, bands, and light music for the enjoyment of attendees.

Best Time to Visit Vesuvius National Park

The best time to visit Mount Vesuvius is from early April to mid-June or from late August to late October. During spring, the landscape is filled with vibrant colors, such as the yellow and purple of the brooms and valerian, offering a unique sensory experience. To avoid crowds, it is advisable to arrive early, as there are usually fewer visitors at the ticket office before 9:30 am.

It is important to note that the weather at the crater’s summit can change rapidly, so it is essential to be prepared. If visibility from below is limited and the crater cannot be seen, it is recommended not to ascend. The unpredictability of the weather at the summit of Mount Vesuvius means that caution should always be exercised, and local guidelines should be followed.