Monte Vesuvio (Mount Vesuvius) is a stratovolcano east of Napoli. It is the only volcano on the European mainland to have erupted within the last hundred years, although it is not currently erupting.
Vesuvio is best known for its eruption in AD 79 that led to the destruction of the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum and the death of 10,000 to 25,000 people. It has erupted many times since and is today regarded as one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world because of the population of 3,000,000 people living nearby and its tendency towards explosive eruptions. It is the most densely populated volcanic region in the world.
Small earthquakes started taking place on 20 August, 79 becoming more frequent over the next four days, but the warnings were not recognised. On the afternoon of 24 August, a catastrophic eruption of the volcano started. The eruption devastated the region, burying Pompeii and other settlements. By coincidence it was the day after Vulcanalia, the festival of the Roman god of fire.
The area around Vesuvius was officially declared a national park on 5 June 1995. The summit of Vesuvius is open to visitors and there is access by road to within 200 metres (660 ft) of the summit (measured vertically), but thereafter access is on foot only. There is a spiral walkway around the mountain from the road to the crater.