Naples Notes

Written by Harold McNeill on November 21st, 2013. Posted in Travelogue



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Photo of Mount Vesuvius as the MS Nautica leaves Naples harbour just as the sun
is setting. Can you imagine the destruction if the mountain erupted today?

Part 4: Mount Vesuvius Link Here for Photos 

As the weather was clear and the mountain top clearly visible we opted to ascend Vesuvius, the infamous (in 79 AD at least) and now a tourist destination that, along with now extinct towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum, now attracts million of visitors every year.

The type of pressure buildup and eventual explosion that removed the top of Vesuvius seems very like that which happened at Mount St. Helens in Washington State.  Today, Vesuvius is reported as being the most dangerous active volcano in the world. It has erupted hundreds of times over the past two thousand years, but the eruption on August 24, remains by far the most powerful.

Had the mountain been in a remote area, it would likely have remained just a footnote in history, but by completely covering two towns and killing an estimated 16,000, it is a story that is now known around the world.  With blast force of 100,000 times that of the Atomic Bomb, “Little Boy”, that leveled Hiroshima, it hurled ash over 20 miles and left a cloud that eventually circled the globe.

Pompeii, the city to south, remains the most popular tourist destination as it was here a larger section of been recovered, however, it is said that Herculaneum has been better preserved as it was buried with the pyroclastic flow rather than ash.  Another reason the sites remain so well known is that a young man, Pliny the Younger, made a commitment to his father (the Older), to make a record of the event.  Pliny’s father had been killed in the aftermath of the eruption when he and a number of other men went to the Pompeii to try and assist survivors. Today we shall see some of the effects.

As access to the mountain is rather rugged, we travelled south from Naples and then east to the base of the south section of the mountain (the taller of two peaks).  After climbing the winding road to about half the height we transferred to a hummer type vehicle for the next 100 feet before taking to the walking trails.  The final ascent of about 1000 feet winds along the western side of the mountain to the very edge of the cavernous crater that continues to spew steam.

As we are travelling at the end of the tourist season, every stop we make is surprisingly clear of other tourists, so we are able to access every nook and cranny without having to wait in line.  Along the path we meet a few others from other parts of the world and share a bottle of wine with an entertaining group of young helicopter mechanics working in Dubai and on holiday in Italy.

Our tour guide, Roberta, provided us with a constant flow of information about the mountain, the city of Naples and it’s people.  To bring life to the stories, the best guides always mix in a good portion of humour about themselves and their people.  Roberta spoke fondly of her elderly mother who attends church at least once a week, yet is still a very superstitious persons, so much so that every time she leaves her apartment on her way to church, she always has a piece of garlic tucked in her bra.

While our trip to Naples was short, the weather provided us with an opportunity to see some of the best it has to offer, including a sail past (not to close of course) of the famous Isle of Capri. Do you remember the song:

It was on the Isla of Capri, I first met her.
Under the shade of the old walnut tree.
I can still see the flowers blooming around her.
As we met on the Isle of Capri…  

Well, I can still hear Bing Crosby and later, Frank Sinata singing that song from somewhere back in my younger life. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to take a trip to a great many places about which I have only read about or watched on TV or the big screen.

Tomorrow we begin our trek through the Greek Islands and into Turkey as we make our way toward Cyprus and Israel.

Harold

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Comments

  • Herb Craig

    December 14, 2021 |

    As always awesome job Harold. It seems whatever you do in life the end result is always the same professional, accurate, inclusive and entertaining. You have always been a class act and a great fellow policeman to work with. We had some awesome times together my friend. I will always hold you close as a true friend. Keep up the good work. Hope to see you this summer.
    Warm regards
    Herb Craig

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Hi Dorthy, So glad you found those stories and, yes, they hold many fond memories. Thanks to social media and the blog, I’ve been able to get in touch with many friends from back in the day. Cheers, Harold

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Well, well. Pleased to see your name pop up. I’m in regular contact via FB with many ‘kids’ from back in our HS days (Guy, Dawna, Shirley and others). Also, a lot of Cold Lake friends through FB. Cheers, Harold

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Oh, that is many years back and glad you found the story. I don’t have any recall of others in my class other than the Murphy sisters on whose farm my Dad and Mom worked.

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Pleased to hear from you Howie and trust all is going well. As with you, I have a couple of sad stories of times in my police career when I crossed paths with Ross Barrington Elworthy. Just haven’t had the time to write those stories.

  • Howie Siegel

    November 25, 2021 |

    My only fight at Pagliacci’s was a late Sunday night in 1980 (?) He ripped the towel machine off the bathroom wall which brought me running. He came after me, I grabbed a chair and cracked him on the head which split his skull and dropped him. I worried about the police finding him on the floor. I had just arrived from Lasqueti Island and wasn’t convinced the police were my friends. I dragged him out to Broad and Fort and left him on the sidewalk, called the cops. They picked him up and he never saw freedom again (as far as I know). I found out it was Ross Elworthy.

  • Herbert Plain

    November 24, 2021 |

    Just read you article on Pibroch excellent. My Dad was Searle Grain company agent we move there in 1942/3 live in town by the hall for 5 years than moved one mile east to the farm on the corner where the Pibroch road meets Hwy 44. Brother Don still lives there. I went to school with you and Louise.

  • Herbert Plain

    November 24, 2021 |

    Just read your life account of Pibroch excellent.
    My family mowed to Pibroch in 1942 Dad was grain buyer for Searle Grain Company lived in town for 5 years than mowed one mile East to the farm on the corner of the road from Pibroch and Hwy 44. Bro Don still lives there.I went to school with both you and Louise.

  • DOROTHY MARSHALL

    November 15, 2021 |

    These stories brought back some sweet memories for me. a wonderful trip down memory lane . the photos were great. It has made me miss those days.

  • DOROTHY MARSHALL

    November 15, 2021 |

    Enjoyed your story Harold Dorothy Hartman