Westholme Geographers climb Mount Vesuvius on Bay of Naples trip
At October half term 49 intrepid Geographers accompanied, by Mrs. Buckley, Miss Edgar, Miss Entwistle, Miss Incerti and Mrs. Moore, set off to explore the Bay of Naples in Italy.
The first excursion, in glorious sunshine, involved a trek up the steep cinder covered slopes of Mount Vesuvius to peer into the 300 metre deep crater. As the visibility was so good, we were then offered a special tour, by our volcanologist guide, to skirt the rim of the crater and this enabled us to reach the summit where a triangulation point stands at 1271 metres. The views over the Bay of Naples below were breathtaking. The girls then descended, rather gingerly, 20 metres down the inside of the crater to find the source of the steam emissions at a fumarole. Vesuvius has been described as the world’s most dangerous volcano, partly because nearly 3 million people live in close proximity below but also because it may erupt again with the same explosive force that destroyed Pompeii and Herculaneum. Fortunately for us, Vesuvius is currently in a quiescent stage and we were able to make it safely back to the coach to continue our tour!
The excavated remains of the towns of Herculaneum and Pompeii fascinated the girls. The ash that buried these towns preserved the Roman villas so well that the excavations reveal not only the structure of the buildings and streets but jars, tables, paintings and even wooden partitions and beds all frozen in time! The plaster casts of those caught in the eruption were a sombre reminder of the fate of the 20,000 inhabitants of Pompeii.
A slightly less pleasant experience was the visit to Solfatara (latin Sulpha Terra-land of sulphur). Here the girls were able to stand inside a volcanic crater. Despite some well positioned tissue paper (stuffed into their nostrils) they could still smell the sulphurous fumes, as the volcano emits jets of steam and produces bubbling hot mud pools.
The final day involved a visit to the beautiful island of Capri, home to many wealthy celebrities. The girls were very excited to see the Armani luxury yacht but did take some pictures of the magnificent coastal landforms. The limestone rock produces some superb examples of caves, arches and stacks which Mrs. Buckley and some of the sixth form got very excited about! The chairlift to the highest point on the island, Anacapri, meant the girls literally had their heads in the clouds.
The climax to this very full itinerary was a visit to the Teatro Tasso in Sorrento to see a musical with traditional songs and folk dancing. Much to the girls embarrassment this did involve a degree of audience participation but as usual they rose to the occasion and soon entered into the spirit of the evening.