When Spartacus led the slave rebellion of 73 B.C., he found the crater on top of Vesuvius to be a huge basin a mile across and filled with a dense growth of vines. It served as a secure camp for the rebels until three thousand Roman soldiers laid siege.
The modern crater of Mount Vesuvius, shown above, is a huge empty bowl. There is no molten lava to be seen today. Of course, this peaceful appearance could change tomorrow.
On our first trip to the top of Vesuvius (on 23 July 1983), my wife and I rode a ski lift, but all later visits required a challenging hike up a winding trail. Various people-movers have been used for more than 100 years to get tourists to the top of the crater. They were typically destroyed by volcanic eruptions. During one of the tranquil periods of Mount Vesuvius, the popular Italian song Funiculi, Funicula was first performed at the grand opening of a funicular railway which carried passengers the final 1000 feet to the summit around 1880.
Press play to hear Funiculi, Funicula.