Mount Vesuvius, located near the city of Naples in southern Italy, is the only active volcano in Europe. Trains run from most major Italian cities to Naples, where the Circumvesuviana line will take you almost right to the active volcano. Vesuvius National Park has nine different nature trails of varying difficulty surrounding the park. You can also walk through the ruins of ancient Pompeii.
Mount Vesuvius is the inner cone of a much larger volcanic structure; it is a "volcano within a volcano." It has sloped sides made up of different kinds of volcanic materials. The top of Mount Vesuvius is flat and has a large crater in the center.
Mount Vesuvius' peak reaches about 4,200 feet above sea level. The diameter of the volcano's crater is 2,100 feet with a depth of 750 feet.
The most famous eruption of 79 A.D. buried the towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum under tons of ash and lava, preserving those cities and their inhabitants. But Mount Vesuvius was an active volcano long before that. Since 79 A.D. it has erupted more than 30 times. Its last eruption was in 1944.
Since 1944, Mount Vesuvius has been quiescent (or dormant and without any major signs of volcanic activity). But because it had a 131-year period of quiescence and then erupted in 1631, there is concern that Mount Vesuvius could erupt again because it is still an active volcano.
The word "Plinian," meaning a type of volcanic eruption where a stream of volcanic ash and gas is sent miles into the sky, comes from the historian Pliny, who witnessed and described the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 A.D.
Article Written By Celeste Fiore
Celeste Fiore, a Rutgers University Law school graduate, writes about law, education, the Mid-Atlantic region and other assorted topics she finds interesting. Fiore has traveled in Europe and the United States. She has been a writer all her life and began writing professionally in 2009; currently her work is published on eHow, Trails.com and GolfLink.