So your kid wants to visit a volcano and you’re not sure how safe/practical it is? Well, if you take a trip to Italy’s Mount Vesuvius, it may be both safe and practical (depending on you and your kids!). It was both during our experience this past April. Our oldest son has had an unusual fascination with this particular volcano since he was four years old. When we asked what he would like for his sixth birthday, a visit to Mount Vesuvius was all he requested. Since we currently live in Europe, we found it was within our means to make it happen. So, we took our then six year old, almost four year old, and almost two year old (plus I was seven months pregnant with baby #4) to Italy to see the famous volcano.
To get to the volcano, we took the Circumvesuviana train from Garibaldi station in Naples to the Ercalano Scavi Station. From there, we took a tour bus about 9 kilometers up the volcano to the carpark. This is a very steep, winding road, which I found to be the most frightening part of the whole trip! It was particularly nerve wracking when the driver slammed on his breaks to avoid a collision with another tour bus that had just rounded a blind corner. Nothing makes you feel alive like almost tumbling down the side of a volcano in a tall bus full of tourists! The driver was very good, though, and had clearly done the drive many times.
*A word on the Circumvesuviano train line: This is not the most refined train service in Europe. Mind your children and your things. A couple days after our trip to Vesuvius, we took this train a second time to visit the Pompeii ruins. It was on this trip that I was successfully pickpocketed and had my iPhone stolen. It was quite amazing (and super creepy) that someone was able to dig around in my bag without my knowledge. We were literally packed in like sardines. So, yeah, don’t overestimate how vigilant you are in regards to the security of your belongings. These guys are professionals just waiting for a mom with kids in her arms.
Upon arrival, we paid the small entrance fee and set out on our journey up to the crater. The hike is less than a mile, however, it is quite steep at parts and the railing consists of either two ropes or the wooden ones you see in our pictures. Our second child is the wild and free sort, so we were sure to keep her on the inside of the path! Fortunately, the path is fairly wide most of the way up. Ben had the little one in a backpack carrier, which was perfect. A stroller would not be practical for the climb. There were several other families also trekking the dusty, windy path.
We strongly suggest proper footwear, especially for children. Those wearing sandals and flip-flops clearly regretted their choice, and kids in cheap light-up sneakers (while very cute) were struggling maintaining their footing on the graveled path to the spectacular crater, and having an even more difficult time on their journey down.
The kids were so proud of themselves when we arrived at the top, especially our petite four year old. They had just climbed their first volcano! The views on the way up were spectacular, but looking inside the marvelous crater of an active volcano? It was was just incredible! There are plenty of great spots to take pictures and rest for a few minutes before journeying back down.
Our son had such an adrenaline rush afterward that he wanted to just continue on to see the ancient ruins of Pompeii and Herculanium, but his sisters were totally tuckered out from the trip and needed to recuperate. Overall, we found the trip very family friendly and our kids are still talking about it!
Have you visited Mount Vesuvius with children? What advice would you give to other families interested in visiting the volcano?
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