You can adjust all of your cookie settings by navigating the tabs on the left hand side.
“On its slopes the most exquisite wines are made, called by Neapolitans Lacryma and Greco, and the most delicate fruits; and that is due to the ashes that fall from the Mountain on the soil below, which is soaked in “solsi”. And the ashes, mixed with the rain, make the land highly fertile and its herbs and fruits so delicious”.
From Farm to Fork
THE VESUVIUS, ONE OF THE MOST FAMOUS VOLCANOS IN THE WORLD
So wrote the writer and historian Giuseppe Sigismondo, fascinated by the vitality of a land tormented by cataclysms, and still so gracious and full of life. We have in our land a well-known and feared guest, the Vesuvius, one of the most famous volcanos in the world, 1281 meters high, with a history spanning thousands of years.
Vesuvius has been the protagonist of many literary works through the centuries: the origin of its name comes from the Indo-European roots *aues (to light up) or *eus (to burn). The nominal strain *Uěsěuo- s has been modified through times in Věsēvus. The Vesuvius volcanic complex is the most important of the whole continental Europe, and it is located 17 km south-east from Napoli. The events that took place in this ancient region, called by Romans Campania Felix for its climate, its rich soil and delicious products, have always been closely connected with the Volcano and its activity.
According to scholars, the populations that lived on the slopes of Vesuvius before the 1st century B.C. were completely unaware of the dangerous nature of the volcano, even if some Greek scholars like Strabone and Diodoro Siculo, had guessed the strong connection between “the river of fire (lava) and Vesuvius”. Later, Latin scholars like Seneca, Sisenna, Plinio the Old, Vitruvio, Virgilio, Columella and many others, unaware of the turbulent and eruptive past of the volcano, named it “locus amoenus”: they loved it for its beautiful gardens and delicious fruits and vegetables, as well as for its remarkable wine making.
The famous poet Giacomo Leopardi defined our volcano as “Vesuvius, Exterminator terrible”, and writes: :
17. These fields with barren ashes strown,
18. And lava, hardened into stone,
19. Beneath the pilgrim’s feet, that hollow sound,
20. Where by their nests the serpents coiled (…)
21. Were cheerful villages and towns,
22. With waving fields of golden grain,
23. And musical with lowing herds;
24. Were gardens, and were palaces,
25. That to the leisure of the rich
26. A grateful shelter gave;
27. Were famous cities, which the mountain fierce,
28. Forth-darting torrents from his mouth of flame,
29. Destroyed, with their inhabitants.
(The Ginestra, or the Flower of the Wilderness.)
At the moment, the volcano is in a dormant state: just some fumaroles inside the crater, and all the area around is intensely cultivated and populated. Houses and hotels, restaurants, buildings and small villas have been built up to 700 meters above the sea level. The height and the shape of Vesuvius have been modified through the centuries because of the eruptions and the movements of the soil.
The eye of the beholder is caught by the fabulous view from the top of the volcano. From its height, looking downwards, you can admire the beautiful Gulf of Napoli, the sea in front of Torre Annunziata, the Sorrento Coast, Castellammare di Stabia, Torre del Greco, Capri, Procida and Ischia. In the evening this beautiful sight becomes much more suggestive, as everything is illuminated by the street lamps and by the moon and the stars reflecting in the sea around the Gulf.
When we talk about the Vesuvius, we refer to the whole complex Somma-Vesuvius, that is the Volcano and the Mount Somma; anyway, these two areas feature different but also similar aspects, especially the strong anthropization which is the main peculiarity of both gentle hills. The Vesuvius area is drier and sunny, characterized by wild Mediterranean vegetation with pine forests and holm oaks. The Mount Somma, on the other hand, shows the typical Apennine vegetation, with chestnut woods, birch trees and maples.
The colonization of the volcanic soil began shortly after the cooling. It is due to the Stereocaulon Vesuvianum lichen, which was the first living being to settle on the cool lava, and prepared the soil for the rooting of plants. It completely covers the Vesuvian lavas, giving them a grey color and covering the lava with silvery sheen.
The flower list includes 906 different species, with 23 types of orchids and several species of brooms: Genista tinctoria, Genista aetnensis, the latter imported from Etna in 1906 and nowadays distributed throughout the Vesuvian area.
THE VESUVIUS NATIONAL PARK
The Vesuvius National Park was officially born on June 5th, 1995. It represents a biosphere reserve of MAB Unesco (Man and Biosphere). The park aims to preserve both animals and plants species, their associations, the geological peculiarities, the beauty of the landscape and the ecological balance of the whole area. It also aims to:
1) The application of suitable methods of administration or environmental restoration able to create an integration between man and natural environment, protecting anthropological, historical and traditional values and respecting agricultural and pastoral activities;
2) Promoting educational activities, training and scientific research;
3) Defending and rebuilding hydro-geological balance.
Concerning the Vesuvius National Park, our task is difficult because we want to defend and enhance the most famous volcano in the world. At the same time it is also one of the most dangerous because of the dense urbanization around it.
The Vesuvius National Park represents an anomaly between all the natural European parks: something of a gamble of global environmentalism which aims to recover the appeal and the wild side of this area and save it from a horrible decay. Moreover, the soil of this area is famous for being one of the richest of minerals all over the world, even considering the small extension of the territory.
We know 906 different species of plants only in this area: between these we have the birch trees, the Neapolitan alder, the red valerian , the helichrysum Litoreo and more than 20 different orchids. The fauna is rich especially among the invertebrates, with 44 species of butterflies, and other animals such as the buzzard, the sparrowhawk, the raven, foxes, hares, wild rabbits and the garden dormouse
The wealth of the lava soil makes the agriculture unique and peculiar because the products are characterized by unique features. This is the case of the Vesuvius apricot, which is cultivated with different methods, the famous Piennolo Cherry Tomato (“Pomodorino del Piennolo”), but also cherries and grapes from which the Lacryma Christi wine and Catalanesca grape are made. We can easily observe the effects of the volcano’s eruptions throughout the centuries on the soil of this area from the first link in the chain, a lichen called Stereocaulon Vesuvianum. The park occupies an area of 8482 hectares and includes 13 municipalities: Ercolano, Torre del Greco, Trecase, Boscoreale, Boscotrecase, Terzigno, S.Giuseppe Vesuviano, S.Anastasia, Ottaviano, Somma Vesuviana, Pollena Trocchia, Massa di Somma e S. Sebastiano al Vesuvio.