Damn these volcanoes!

Maybe you think you know what I’m writing about; don’t be so sure – don’t be fooled by the title!

In the last few days we have heard a lot about the eruption of the unpronounceable Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland and the problems caused all around Europe. The volcanic ash has forced the cancellation of many flights, many airports had to be closed and the trains were full to bursting, but I don’t want to bore you with information you already know.

In such a situation I usually have to think in a different way about “my” volcano: Mount Vesuvius!

We all know there are still some active volcanoes in Italy, almost all of them in Sicily and in Campania. Sometimes they do erupt, the most notorious of them being Mount Etna (it is one of the most active volcanoes in the world!) Mount Vesuvius is also active. Although it is currently dormant, it still is today regarded as one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world today: Vesuvius is best known for its eruption in AD 79 – well described by Pliny the Younger in his memoirs – that led to the destruction of the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum and also my home town, the old Stabiae.

Most of you have probably already wondered what it is like to live near an active volcano and would be permanently afraid of an unexpected eruption. Of course that’s understandable! But in reality it is somewhat different. If you live near a volcano, you are not that scared and analyze the situation in a different way. It doesn’t mean you would underestimate or completely ignore said volcano, but you just “get used” to it as it is a part of your life; you know how dangerous it is and what you have to do in the case of an eruption or an earthquake.

By the way, the Vesuvius monitoring system of the Vesuvius Observatory is extremely modern and strictly connected to the Civil Protection Department that is readily alerted on the volcano’s state of activity. Furthermore there is an emergency plan, which divides the Vesuvius area into 3 smaller ones according to their level of danger.

You learn living with this huge and mysterious mountain. You are conscious of the dangers and you don’t underestimate them, but at the same time you don’t think all the time about the possibility of the volcano erupting because otherwise you wouldn’t live in peace.

A volcano is not only dangerous, but also something incredible and fascinating.

It wouldn’t be the same for me if I went back home, woke up in the morning and could no longer see Mount Vesuvius from my bedroom window.


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