The Vesuvius National Park covers a surface area of around 13,500 hectares, it includes numerous villages and is one of the World Biosphere Reserves protected by UNESCO.
According to a scientific research, the volcanic component was already active 300,000 years ago, with explosive phases that began around 17,000 years ago (a Bronze Age village, buried by an eruption like that of 79 A.D., has recently been brought to light in Nola). The eruptions of Vesuvius have been so typical as to give rise to the term “Vesuvian phase” in order to indicate violent reawakening caused by magma at a great depth. The mild climate and the extremely fertile ground, despite the lava flows that have followed one another over the centuries, have enabled the evolution of luxuriant characteristic flora that provides a habitat for a few, but significant animal species, with birds that stop here while migrating.
As well as the typical broom, which is the symbol of the park, we should also point out valerian plants, pines, locust trees, birch and species of the maquis have an origin there. The fauna includes foxes, hares, wild rabbits, dormice, weasels and stone martens. The birds include golden orioles, owls, redstarts, black flycatchers, robins, black caps, wrens, great tits, little owls, spotted woodpeckers, barn owls, woodcocks, blackbirds, greenfinches and crows.
It is possible to go on excursions in the Park and on Vesuvius, in order to enjoy the natural environment and admire unforgettable views.
We recommend ahving time for a visit to the Vesuvius Observatory, the first point for volcanological observation and study in the world and one of the greatest structures of its kind.
It was founded in 1841, and was initially run by one of the most famous volcanologists ever, Giuseppe Mercalli, who gave his name to the Seismic Scale bringing his name. The Observatory is halfway up to the crater and can be visited.