Spoonful of Sugar By Lucy Williams

Hello, all! I’m happy to introduce this lovely guest post by Lucy Williams for you to enjoy. It’s a beautifully written piece of flash-memoir that I absolutely love. Don’t forget to comment below and share if you’re feeling fancy.

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Hung-over on the bed, but without having been to sleep yet, I force myself to check the time. It’s 3:57am. The side street below my window refuses to sleep either.

Rickety bikes rattle along below, carrying their intoxicated mounts to safety like trusty steeds, homeward bound. The youngsters flowing home along the cobbled river is a sight welcomed by the baker on the corner of Via Matteucci, who half an hour ago exhaustedly turned his key in the lock of his pasticceria door to start making the dough for the day ahead. It’s at this time of night, in his secluded stone doorway, that he hopes to make a little cash-in-hand profit from these students’ wine-induced craving for fresh strips of garlic and rosemary infused ciabatta, still soft and doughy in the middle and half the price of what they will cost them when they officially go on sale in a few hours.

Sleep is on its way, clouding my vision and thoughts until I succumb to its beautiful nothingness. After being awake for this many hours it must surely arrive soon.

It has been one of those days for making list upon list, mistake upon mistake, and handing over more and more money. A day of wearing lots of layers and not having the warmth of someone else’s knowing eyes penetrating them. A day of free beer and telephone cards to reach those who really know me. A day of blurred photographs and of folding paper. A day of looking ten years ahead. A day of putting an extra spoonful of sugar on the foam of my cappuccino, while looking at my watch to work out how long I need to wait before I’ll be dissolving a sugar cube over my absinthe with Federico, when I will be able to lose track of time in the mesmeric cloud of whiteness swirling through the liquid below. A day of playing music too quietly, and of piling boxes high against the wall, filling them with packets of snapped willow charcoal. A day of imagining material on every surface, and of wanting to stop pretending that I know how they feel. Of being the last to go to bed again.

In this gap before the night closes and the day begins, it feels as though it can only be me and the baker who are still awake. The sound of him opening the door to let the heat out of his floury prison floats up to my window, followed shortly by the smell of fresh pizza dough, and I realise that I don’t have to be asleep to have my sogni d’oro here in Italy.

An hour soon gets swallowed up in my thoughts, and the air is now so still that I can hear the baker rest his sweaty weight against the stone wall outside, methodically wiping his forehead before he lights the first cigarette of his shift.

When he resumes his work after this first break the sound of the trays scraping against the oven is my cue to give in to sleep, as it won’t be long before the first customers will be leaning on his counter and I will have stayed awake into a new day. He will greet me tomorrow as I cycle passed and he will be thinking about how lucky I am to have had a full night’s sleep, utterly unaware of how many hours we have spent awake together at night.

As the North Italian sun starts to trickle into the bedroom, I am pleasantly surprised to notice that today the view of the neat orange terracotta rooftops through the mess of curtains has become as familiar and comforting to me now as one of the green hills back home. Every day, as I witness the darkness turn into dawn, I momentarily expect to see Welsh countryside appear but the usual disappointment is less today.

After my time in this special country, I am going to go home and know what I am going to do in the morning. I won’t confuse day and night. I won’t have unpacked bags in the corner of my room. I’ll answer my calls and be outside ready to meet them. I will see doing nothing as a worthwhile thing to do with you. I’ll have just one book in my bag. I’ll redo what I tried to do when I was continually drunk, and start to know what happened and when. My earring will not hurt after a day in the wind. I will be happy doing all the things that they think I’ve done. I will close the back cover and let someone else write their name now.

Author Bio:

Lucy lives in Wales and spends her time as an Italian Translator, Technical author, and Creative Writer. She is particular interested in the translation of culturally-bound humour, crossing boundaries through literature, subtitling, and writing for therapeutic purposes. She has poetry published by The Emma Press, and Hysteria, and was recently a judge for the Hysteria Short Story competition.

She is a freelance travel writer for Looking for Italy where she gets to spout off about how amazing Italy is. Here is an article about why you should shut your computer down and book a flight to Naples right now. She also documents her own travels on her creative writing site: www.lucyrosewilliams.com. She is currently working on getting the courage to move to Italy and live off arancini, views, and calzedonia tights.

SPRING BREAK ITALY: AGRITURISMO ECO-TRAVEL EDITION

 

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Years ago one of my good friends and I rented a car and drove from Florence south towards Salento, Naples, and Capri. I’d just started dating Francesco at the time so we stopped on the way to have lunch with him in an agriturismo in Cassino. I met his best friend, Fusco, who seemed concerned about the hunting knife in my purse (mostly for cutting canvas cause art student, but also because rapists…chop chop), and also worried about my mental stability when I kept referring to a donkey as a “tiny horse.” I get it, my sense of humor takes some getting used to (but seriously, it’s basically a little fuzzy horse with derpy teeth). The agriturismo where we had lunch was surrounded by a garden and a small farm. Where, apparently, all of our food came from which was fine for me because I ordered a vegetarian meal. Yay, pasta. As a parting gift Francesco sent me off on my weekend vacation with a vat of local honey and an entire wheel of some kind of hard cheese. An. Entire. Wheel. It was sweet and also the single weirdest thing a guy has ever gifted me. “Enjoy your trip. Here’s a block of cheese.” Ever since, I’ve been in love with these charming little places. 

Farm to table isn’t incredibly uncommon in Italy which is awesome because the produce you get is fresh, ripened on the vine, full of vitamins, and tastes like delicious bursts of orgasmic awesome in your mouth. Plus, it’s better for the environment, the culture, and Italy’s economy. Eco-travel, baby, and I’ve been all about it lately. Why? Well, because in a global world like ours everything is mass produced from fifty countries away, a persistent global culture (Starbucks, McDonalds, Hilton) is permeating the fabrics of every society and the places we love to visit, to explore, to enjoy because they are different, are vanishing (example, Starbucks in Italy. WTF? WHY!? You don’t need a goddamn mochacchino that bad, buddy). The best way to help places retain their amazing individuality is with conscious travel. Let’s face it, if we want to vacation in an American Italy, we can just go to New Jersey, otherwise, let’s appreciate the real, legit Italia and revel in its weird magic. 

So, how does eco-tourism work? Basically, you just travel in a more badass way than usual, a more authentic way. Instead of resorts, you experience the real country and meet actual local people who feed you local cuisine. Sounds nice, right? Totally is. Trust me, you’ll be so into it. 

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STAYING AT AN AGRITURISMO

In spirit of March and spring break, I give you a mini guide to eco-tourism via an agriturismo in Italy. You’ve still got time to plan a super fun, authentic vacation and stuff your gorgeous face with some farm to table freshness.

AGRITURISMI IN ITALY

Agriturismos are absolutely epic. They’re usually situated in places where you’ll be completely submersed in local culture, food is grown on-site (often organic, including wine, honey, and olive oil), and most are owned by families who will often make all kinds of cultural excursions or activities available to you. The architecture of these places is another bonus, they’re usually old, charming, and made out of large rocks (in a good way) and romantically rustic. It’s what most of us think of when we picture Italy. Why are they more Eco than hotels? They use less resources, food travels a closer distance (usually ten feet away), the smaller gardens are better on the soil with more sustainable farming practices, and you’re interacting more with local culture. Also? Did I mention romantic? Cause they will make your panties (or boxers) drop. Seriously, I stayed with Francesco in a farmhouse in Tuscany that had a fireplace in the room and gooood lawd. 

Places you definitely want to check out:

This monastery in Umbria on ecobnb

This gorgeous farmhouse in Marche

Hundreds of farmhouse options for every region to fit every budget on agriturismo.it

A list of even more fantastic agriturismo accommodations

Book your trip, a weekend, a week, a month, and let me know how it goes or if you have any questions, put them in the comments below! Been to a really great agriturismo in Italy? Share it below!

THIS IS A COSI POST! CHECK OUT THESE AMAZING POSTS BY MY BLOGGING BROTHERS AND SISTERS: 

Rick’s Rome: Favorite Spring Destinations in Italy

Girl in Florence: http://girlinflorence.com/?p=12562

Sicily Inside & Out: An Early Easter in Sicily

Sex, Lies, And Nutella: Food Traditions That Win Easter

 

Travel To Saint Vincent, Italy, For Poker, Hot Springs, And A Hot Time

I’ve travelled all over Italy, from Brescia to Sicily and I’m still somehow amazed by the diversity and beauty of such a teeny-tiny country (Italy is smaller than some US states). There are a lot of things that I love about Italy that might surprise you. Since I’ve been to so many places, I’ve decided it would be fun to write little mini guides for as many cities as I can manage. 

I’m going to kick it off in Saint Vincent. Why? Because it’s north and I’m going to slowly make my way from the top to the bottom of the fabulous Italian boot. Plus, the north is the area that I’ve explored the least but want to explore the most. All of these crazy braggarts keep telling me about how their people “stand in lines and stuff” in some parts of the north so I’d like to see this in real life, naturally. 

 

Saint Vincent is located in North-West Italy. It’s in that part of Italy that kind of resembles Switzerland; it’s green in the summer, beautiful, and clean (and the people have interesting mixed accents). The city has unique weather since it rests nestled in a valley and has its own little “microclimate” with coolish summers and mild winters compared to the surrounding areas. 

The location makes it a super rad city to visit, rain or shine. It’s far north, so during the summer months it’s less hot than say, scalding Florence, but in the winter it’s “colder than a witches’ tit,” as my mom would so eloquently say (she has a way with words). During the winter this region gets snow and just 1640 meters from Saint Vincent you can find the Col de Joux ski resort, making the cooler months an especially fun time to visit.

Aside from skiing, there’s also the “Grolle d’Oro” film awards at the end of October, and famous hot springs! Who doesn’t love hot springs when it’s crisp out? When I was a teenager in Utah, I’d drive for four hours north to Idaho to go to the hot springs because I was weird, but also adventurous. Seriously, it was the highlight of being 16-year-old me (stop judging). Anyway, I love hot springs, it’s good for your skin with all the minerals, and it feels less toxic and pornish than a Jacuzzi. Seriously, who wants to sit in a Jacuzzi with strangers? Nobody, that’s who. 

Just imagine it: fall leaves, a thermal bath, a nice dinner with some wine, followed by cocktails and gambling. James Bond-style, my friends. There is a huge casino in Saint Vincent that is pretty famous, the Casino De La Vallee, and there really is a big poker tournament organised by PokerStars there and, well, seriously? Italians, poker, Italy? Sounds like a spy movie and I’m totally IN. Plus, it totally sounds like your cup of tea, too, guys (gremlins). I’ve recently started watching poker tournaments on TV which is a little like participating in an anthropology experiment because the players on TV are weird, like “maybe I eat people,” weird. And there’s always some dude wearing sunglasses in the dim casino and I’m always like, “Oh! A singer!” but he’s not a singer, he’s just a gambler being very sneaky (I realize that I shouldn’t associate men in sunglasses with talented blind performers). The poker in Italy is probably way cooler than TV poker though, guys. Looks kind of swanky, honestly. 

After your night at the casino, you can head on over to the church, the Chiesa Parrocchiale di San Vincenzo. It’s a really unique church, built on top of Roman ruins dating back to 300-A.D. The church was built in the Romanesque style, and the frescoes inside date back to the 1400s. It’s one of those, “I can’t believe it’s this old” places you have to see if you’re in the region. You can totally Instagram it and be like, “Look mom, I was not gambling, because I was too busy taking beautiful pictures of majestic churches.” Honestly, everyone wins.   

While you’re there, or on your way out of town, stop at Les Saveurs d’Antan, a famous gift shop that I haven’t been to but has received a ton of great reviews from Italians who are picky about their products. The little shop carries grappa, cheese, and various other regional specialties that you probably want to take home in bulk (as usual). If you’re flying internationally remember to put any food items or liquids in your checked bags. 

Saint Vincent is the kind of place that would be great to visit if you’re looking for somewhere new to go or if you want to take my advice and do an Off The Beaten Path, trip around Italy. If you’re crazy/bold enough to rent a car and make small cities and weird adventures a big part of your trip, Saint Vincent will fit right in to your itinerary. It’s also kind of a fun place for a romantic weekend, a bachelor or bachelorette party, or just a place to take your friends to create embarrassing and fun memories. It’s definitely top ten on my bucket list for one of these next few winters. Francesco can’t snowboard or anything though so I’ll have to get him and Oliver a sled and matching puffy coats. Can’t wait! 

Have you been to Saint Vincent or are you currently living nearby? In the comments below let me know if there are more things I should add to my “to do” list! Your comments are the best so let the other readers know what they’re missing out on!

Italy Around The Web: Weekly Roundup

Italy’s Highest Court Explains Decision To Clear Amanda Knox: “ROME — Italy’s highest court said Monday that the case against the Seattle resident Amanda Knox and her former boyfriend — whose convictions in the 2007 murder of a British student were definitively overturned in March — was marked by “culpable omissions of investigative activity” and “contradictory evidence” that raised reasonable doubt of their guilt.”

I’ve followed the case for sometime and while the evidence doesn’t seem to prove her guilty beyond reasonable doubt, that woman has shark eyes. She might not be a murderer, but she’s still creepy as hell. And Italy? Don’t you have protocol for-oh, wait. No, no you don’t.

THE DEMOLITION MAN-New Yorker “Italians who admire Matteo Renzi call him “our best hope.” More skeptical Italians say, “Well, maybe our only hope.” The Western press hedges its bets with “brash” but “confident.” And his enemies use the term il rottamatore, the demolition man. Renzi agrees with his enemies. “I’m the scrapper,” he told me. “I’m cleaning up the swamp.””

I’m not for or against Renzi but I’m interested in him and his career. From an outside perspective, it seems like he’s got the right idea in some areas. If he’s able to do what he hopes to do (fix the economy) then maybe Italy can become a real country again instead of the mess that Trump, I mean, Berlusconi left it in.

The Queen, aka, Beyonce, Frolics in Italy With Her family: 7 Photos From Her Trip To Italy-ABC “It’s been a romantic few weeks for Beyonce and Jay Z, 42, who wrote on his wife’s website on her birthday that the song “”Yellow”” by Coldplay reminded him of her. “”This song reminds me of you and I on vacation,”” he shared. “‘Look at the stars; look how they shine for you.’ So many legendary nights. It represents vulnerability; it’s us in our own world, away from work and totally lost in love.””

Awe, a fan of their work or not, they’re a cute couple. So cute it kind of makes me want to barf, but with love.

World’s Saddest Dog Begs For Forgiveness “In a video uploaded to Facebook, an Italian man’s dog begs for forgiveness for whatever it’s done. Bowing its head and giving so many one-sided hugs, the shamed pooch knows that it’s in the wrong.”

I love dogs. Dogs are my favorite. This video is adorable and kind of sad. I’d like to add that animal behaviorists don’t actually buy into the “guilty,” dog thing. Researchers actually believe that dogs are amazing at reading body language so they’re actually responding to knowing that something “bad,” is going to happen to them when you display anger or body language that the dog understands as being upset. Also? Oliver doesn’t have a guilty face. When he does something bad he displays it proudly. “Look mom! I ate the garbage!” Sigh. Dogs.

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The Beautiful People Of Italy At A Glance: Summer Italian Style

Italy is beautiful, there’s no denying it, but it’s not just the country that’s pretty. Sure, it’s full of amazing architecture, rolling green hills, and lovely blue skies. The really beautiful things in Italy, though, are the people.  Seriously, it’s totally unfair to the rest of the world. Even the old people are adorable and stylish and I just want to frame them all over my house or lock them in a glass case to just look at them. Seriously, LOOK AT THEM. With that olive skin, the stylish clothes, and the booming confidence, it’s impossible not to stare.

I took these photos throughout Italy from Cellole to Florence. It doesn’t hurt that the backdrops only highlight how goddamn cute the people are with their stupid pretty skin and irritatingly badass hair. I love the summer clothes too, loose fabrics, bold colors, tribal patterns, and low cut v-necks with jeans or slacks despite the 100 degree heat. That is some serious dedication.

Probably the most irritating thing about Italians is that they know how damn cute they are (why wouldn’t they?). The emphasis on beauty and aesthetics is one if the reasons that so much care goes into the way the individuals look, the way the country looks. For this reason, Italy will always be one of my favorite places for fashion and style.

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WWOOOF WWOOF (On Wwoofing In Italy) By Jenni Midgley

Wwoofing has nothing to do with dogs, dogging or doggy. I mention the last two for reasons that will become apparent later. No, WWOOF stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. If you haven’t heard of it – it’s essentially sustainable farmers who seek help with their land/forest/vegetable patch/pigs/cattle/sometimes children. In return, those who go and help get to stay in a new location anywhere in the world, for little or no expense.

‘’What an amazing concept, it sounds right up my street!’ Well, if you’re savvy about it, it probably is right up your street. The best thing about WWOOFING is your destiny’s in your hands. You do need to know which country you want to be in, so you can’t just sign up and go the next day; that’s just a warning to anyone whose perilously close to running out of money and fancies a WWOOF to dodge their woes. For those sane people who know which country they wanna WWOOF in, congratulations. For a small fee you can become a member of that country’s WWOOF website and then off you go. Well I say off you go, that opens the gateway to a huge list of contact details for farmers who need help, then you have the task of dealing with a huge breadth of options.

I WWOOFED in Italy. For me, WWOOFing was a segueinto a lot of things. Meaning, I’m not much of a tree-hugger but I take a fashionable interest in sustainable living and completely alternative lifestyles. I was hankering to get out of London, sick of wittering away hours of my life on needless journeys to work, so I wanted to throw myself headfirst into something new. I left said job, flew to Rome and ended up right in the heel of Italy on a farm in deepest, sunniest, Salento.

My lovely farm Down by the veg

Having spoken to a lot of those who are on the WWOOF trail, some do it once, some make a life out of it for many years. No two experiences will ever be the same. So, while mine consisted of five weeks with an incredible family and a great work/life balance: five hours work each morning, many afternoons spent on breathtaking beaches, jumping off rocks into the Adriatic and learning how to cook, with ingredients they’d grown, like an Italian boss. There is really no telling what you’ll get.

The big DON’T is: don’t expect your time to be your own. While I was lucky in landing a pair of hosts who I got on incredibly well with (they were three years into it, ex-city dwellers. Incredible parents and farmers by day, swingers by night), all of my time, pretty much, was spent near them. For some people, this is just a big oh-no-no. Which I understand. The five weeks WWOOF was a big ask, I felt like I was in an alternate universe. I really did feel like the world consisted of me, the farm, my ‘family’, my bike and the 10 km radius surrounding me. While I know a lot of hosts will be in all kinds of locations, what I’m saying is WWOOFING ain’t a holiday. It’s not a way to pick a place you want to see and go chill there.

Tractor love

The big DO is: do try everything that’s thrown your way. I’ve never felt as good as when I was stood in a forest in the pouring rain with a swarthy Italian man in a JCB shouting at me to ‘pick up those logs and throw them in’ – those logs were each the size, and weight, of a teenage boy (possible exaggeration) – but, I did it. I really didn’t think I could but I had no choice and afterwards I felt like Wonder Woman. Really.

As always with anything travel related. Use your instinct. When you’re in touch with a few farms and are discussing dates and lifestyles, remember that this is just as much for you as it is for them. They are getting free labour and you are getting free board and food. This also means both parties are entitled to be happy and comfortable. Of the WWOOFing community I’ve met, they’re pretty open-minded and straightforward. Make sure that, before you say ‘yes’ to a host, you’ve asked them the right questions. For instance, it’s not embarrassing to care whether you’ll have WIFI or not but; they might not tell you that upfront. ASK. It’s all those little prep things that will make sure you wind up somewhere you like and enjoy. In the end, that’s what everyone wants.

Staggering sunsets

I  didn’t know I’d wind up with such an awesome, if outlandish couple, but all three of us got on like a house on fire. And they weren’t afraid to sit every night with me and answer ALL of my questions on their alternative activities, often leaving me open-mouthed and feeling like I’d only just been born – so tame are my sexy experiences compared to theirs. Whatever, we struck up a great, if slightly odd relationship. I knew we would because I had sent him lots of emails beforehand. Seriously, I can’t stress this enough, get to know them as much as you can through your contact before you arrive.

What I got in return for said preparation were beautiful sunsets on tap, a whole new way of life was shown to me and I made lifelong friends.

By the way, Salento, Puglia is Italy’s last laugh. I’d never really heard of it before I arrived and my god – it’s a rough, tough paradise! Only Italians seem to know it exists, for now, which makes it all the more beautiful. If you can get there (fly to Brindisi airport from all over Europe) it’s so worth a car and a week of coastline hopping.

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I did feel like I had Stockholm Syndrome when I left (for two days, then I got to Rome and partied like a maniac) so perhaps I should have struck up a healthier balance between leaving the farm and exploring Salento. Like I said be a little assertive when you’re working out what you’ll be doing on your farm.

If you’ve got this far and you’re still interested, here’s the all-important WWOOFing list (by no means extensive):

DO wear a hat or wet your head a lot. I hate this one but if you’re out in the sun all day…neither are sexy but neither is sunstroke

DO be open-minded, say yes to things. I mean this in the working/farming environment…we don’t have to say yes to everything

DO ask questions, not all farmers are hugely outgoing, cabaret-sorts

DO take clothes you don’t care about. I ruined everything

DO take time to consider your country/location

DO your research.

DO ask for rides on the heavy machinery

DON’T expect to wear makeup.

DON’T ever tell a host (especially an Italian one) you can cook

DON’T feel you have to offer yourself to work just because you’re free time is spent on site

DON’T sweat the small stuff, my feet were dirty for five weeks. Get over it

DON’T feel obliged. If both parties are unhappy, nothing’s contractually binding

DON’T bite off more than you can chew. Five weeks for a first time was pretty nuts. I’d probably do two first, if I had my time again

DON’T expect all WWOOF hosts to be swingers

AUTHOR BIO:

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Jenni Midgley is a 20-something writer. She left her 9-5 editorial role in London to reinvigorate her lost sense of adventure and to take more naps by the sea. She currently resides in Bologna, enjoying good food, better wine and writing about what happens whenever she leaves her apartment at jennimidgley.com. She loves Instagram.

Hiking Mount Vesuvius, Italy: Guest Post By Pamela Carey

Over the years we have fallen in love with southern Italy.  Life is exuberant and loud.  Neapolitans are brash, grabbing life as it comes and squeezing tight, as evidenced by the antics of twosomes on scooters or in passionate embraces whenever the mood strikes.  Neapolitans have ruled and been ruled, many times.  They know in the course of human events, cultures are fleeting.  The sea lies in front of them, with Vesuvius behind.

We go annually to the island of Ischia, and must pass through Naples.  Often we linger there, exploring the wonderful archeological museums in the city and nearby sites such as Pompeii and Herculaneum.  We savor the Neapolitan pizza “pie” (the best in the world!) and walk the narrow alleys that pass for streets in the Centro, never at night and never with a purse or jewelry worth stealing.  We have taken on the native bravado only in moderation.

Which makes me wonder why we decided to hike to the summit of Mt. Vesuvius.

Here are some facts about 4,200-foot Mt. Vesuvius, the icon of southern Italy:

  • The devastation wrought by the volcano of 79 AD on Pompeii and Herculaneum (killing 10,000-25,000 in ash, poisonous gases in a surge cloud, and/or lava) was not an isolated incident.
  • Among the 100 eruptions since 79 AD were those in 1631, killing 6,000, and in 1794, 1908, and the 1920’s.
  • The last eruption was during World War II in 1944, when lava devastated the town of San Sebastian and others within two miles of the volcano.  A plume of ash rose 4,000 feet in the air.
  • Naples, with 3,000,000 inhabitants in the metropolitan area, sits 5.6 miles from Vesuvius.  There is one major highway in and out.
  • It is estimated the caldarium of poisonous gases that swept through Pompeii travelled at 30-40 mph. Lava, heated to 2000 degrees Fahrenheit, moved three feet a minute in 1944.
  • Scientists warn that Vesuvius is no less dangerous today, and is merely napping. The Osservatorio Vesuviano (institute) monitors all activity.

There are almost 200,000 visitors a year who trek up to the rim of the cone.  We were not alone.

There is a staging area at which we had to leave our vehicle (1000-car quota). We paid 10 Euros each to walk and obtained walking sticks for an additional fee. We didn’t hire a guide, but picked up a brochure describing the views from the summit. We wore hiking shoes (definitely no flip-flops!), because the trail upward was ash, with many small stones and larger rocks to circumnavigate. Hairpin turns provided occasional benches for rest.

It was hot as an inferno at the summit. Wear sunscreen and a hat.

An indescribable view of the Bay awaited us, with the city of Naples sprawled below and the Amalfi coast visible for fifteen miles. We could even see Capri in the distance.  Toward the rear was the valley decimated in ’44. Even more astounding was the view from the rim down into the volcano (700 feet deep and 1970 feet in diameter). Inside was a perfect cylinder of black at the top of the cone, with stratified deposits downward that resembled the turnings of a screw.  Plants have begun to take root and with them bird species.

We saw tour guides leading groups around the opposite side of the rim, where they could watch the steaming fumaroles. Scientists still report bursts of smoke creeping through the cracks from the magma chamber, five miles deep. With the main fissure plugged by rock, geologists agree any eruption will be explosive.

Which made me realize I wanted down-and-away as quickly as possible!  Easier said than done…the climb down made my legs wobble and my knees lock, braking all the way.  Or maybe it was just my nerves!

Author Bio: 

Climbing Mt. Vesuvius

PAMELA CAREY is the author of Minor League Mom, A Mother’s Journey Through the Red Sox Farm Teams (2009) and Elderly Parents with All Their Marbles: A Survival Guide for the Kids (2014). The mother of Red Sox farm team veterans Tim and Todd Carey, Pamela holds a B.A. from Colby College and an M.A. from Columbia University Teachers College.

A former information director for the Delaware Dept. of Education, she taught in Connecticut, Georgia and Maine. Later, she earned an advanced degree in interior design, and opened Interiors by Pamela in Cumberland, R.I. There, she taught adult education and served in many civic capacities. Pamela and her husband, Charley, are “snowbirds,” residing in Delray Beach, Fla., in the winter and Westport, Mass., in the summer.