Naples Notes

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


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.



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  • Harold McNeill

    April 14, 2020 |

    Hi Rick,
    Great to hear from you and trust all is going well. Our family members are all doing well but it must be pretty tough for a lot of people. I had once heard you were going to do some writing but never heard anything further. I would be most interested, but do you think the OB News have archives back to that time. Any link or information you could provide would be greatly appreciated. Did you keep copies? Regards, Harold

  • Rick Gonder

    April 14, 2020 |

    Hi Harold
    About 22 years ago I spent several weeks going through the OBPD archives. I wrote several stories that were published in the OB News. Feel free to use if they are of value to what you are doing.
    Keep this up, I’m enjoying it and it brings back memories.

  • Harold McNeill

    April 12, 2020 |

    Hi Susan,

    Glad you had a chance to read. I decided to update these stories by proofreading as there were several grammatical errors in many. Hopefully, many of those glaring errors have been removed.

    Many of the stories carry a considerable amount of social comment regarding the way the criminal justice system is selectively applied. Next up involves a young woman from near Cold Lake, Alberta, who was abducted by an older male from Edmonton. Her story is the story of hundreds of young men and woman who have found themselves alone and without help when being prayed upon unscrupulous predators.

    Cheers, Harold

  • Susan

    April 8, 2020 |

    Great read, Harold!…and really not surprising, sad as that may sound.
    Keep the stories coming, it is fascinating to hear them.
    Love from us out here in the “sticks”, and stay safe from this unknown predator called Covid.

  • Harold McNeill

    February 17, 2020 |

    Update:  Times Colonist, February 16, 2020, articles by Louise Dickson, She got her gun back, then she killed herself,” and,  Mounties decision to return gun to PTSD victim haunts her brother. 

    Summary: I don’t know how many read the above articles, but they contained the tragic details about young woman, Krista Carle’, who took her own life after suffering for years with PTSD. While tragedies such as this play out across Canada every week, the reason this story resonates so profoundly is that the final, tragic, conclusion took place here in Victoria. Continued in the article.

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    February 15, 2020 |

    Testing the comments section after changes made. Updated: February 10, 2020

    Further to the update below (February 1, 2020), I note that since the government announced a “No-Fault” insurance plan for BC, Robert Mulligan is taking a slightly different tack, suggesting that no-fault will only increase the problems by taking away the right of an injured party to sue.

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    Statements like this appear to be simple fear-mongering. As was the case in the past, people who commit criminal offences, as well as other forms of negligence while driving, may well lose their insurance coverage and in all likelihood would be sued by ICBC to recover costs of the claim. (Link here to Mulligan’s full conversation on CFAX radio)

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