My Italian Travel Blog

The Italian Job; My Journey to the Top of Mt. Vesuvius

You would think that hiking up Mt. Vesuvius would be the great story I had to tell from my time in Italy. The reason the hike up the infamous mountain wasn’t the star of the show was that there were so many people making the trek to the top it didn’t really feel adventurous. Although it was super cool. Hence, the trip down off the mountain is the story that needs telling and I’m happy to say I’m still here to tell it.

I had, with a bunch of other tourists, been uneventfully dropped off that morning by a bus driver at a halfway point up the mountain. From there we could hike the trail that would take us to the rim of the dozing volcano. We did our due diligence, accomplished our touristy agenda, and eventually made our way back to catch the afternoon bus. But for the return, a different driver would be taking us back to the city of Pompei. Our new bus driver, now he was a  character. This guy came rolling up the hill, hand on the horn, and threw open the doors all the while chanting a chorus of (with a thick Italian accent) Pompei! Pompei! Pompei! Pronounced, Palm-Pay-UHH! Palm-Pay-UHH! Palm-Pay-UHH! Those of us who were waiting for a ride back to town scurried over, jumped on the bus, and took our obligatory places.

We didn’t get the last ass in the seat before he closed the door and began this three-point turn in this tiny space with other tourists milling about who were paying no attention to the fact that they were about to come face to face with the Dirty Harry of bus drivers. He backed up, pulled forward, and seemingly sideways, all the while yelling: Oh! Hey! Oh! Ay! And making what I gather was the sound a person makes when squished by a bus filled with other tourists. This had the back of the bus giggling with laughter, for now. After some more expert maneuvering, we left them all behind in a cloud of ash and dust, most of them pressed against a wooden railing with a look of terror on their faces.


Here’s where it gets good. This guy didn’t give two nickels about anything. As we rocketed down the road we literally took out some guy’s side mirror. We missed other cars and buses by mere inches as the bus tossed us to and fro and side to side as we switch-backed down the mountainside. At one point there was an audible gasp from the entire bus as we darn near came up on two wheels. The bus continued at a terrifying pace as it rounded the multitude of bends in the road. In short order, the giggling disappeared to be replaced by silence and strong grips on the seats in front of us. The silence was however permeated with a few Hail Marys and Our Fathers added neatly under our breath for good measure.

We did finally make it down into the city where the bus driver stopped on occasion to talk to other old Italian guys.  There was a lot of honking, hand waving, and “ohs” and “ahs” as we screeched to a halt beside the elderly men all decked out in their fedoras. It looked as if they were all angry with one another, but he always pulled away smiling, so I’m guessing it’s just a thing in Italy. Genghis Khan finally dropped us at the station near the square wherein we all filed off the bus thankful to be alive and, whether we were religious or not, crossing ourselves as we passed in front of a cathedral.  In hindsight, I’m sure God put that there intentionally to gather any lost sheep that made it off the bus in one piece… end scene.

Now, if you liked this story, feel free to go and read my heartfelt Scottish Travel Blog about my first day out hiking the West Highland Way in Scotland.

Be sure to research your next grand adventure by visiting! The number one source that I personally use to plan all my awesome adventures! Use these handy links to conveniently go straight to Viator a TripAdvisor Company! Once on the site, you can click out to all the amazing hotels and accommodations they can hook you up with! Explore all you want and book whenever you are ready to start your amazing trip of a lifetime!