Italy 2018

   September 2018

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Napoli

Sunday September 16th 2018

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I went to Naples for a meeting of 150 astronomers, all working on aspects of a new instrument which will start getting incredible results when it is commissioned in 2019. It was a city I had long, long wanted to go to. But on my first day there I wasn't in much of a mood to appreciate it. If there's one thing worse than a 7am flight, it's a 7am flight from Stansted, and if there's one thing worse than that it's getting to Liverpool Street at 4.20am to find that the Stansted Express has been cancelled. So after minimal sleep and a stressful journey, I found my way to where I was staying and then headed only as far as the nearest cafe. This being Naples, it was only a surprise that the cafe was as much as 100m down the road.

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Walk to work

Wednesday September 19th 2018

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I stayed in the Centro Storico. The meeting was out of town, at Pozzuoli, so each morning I had a nice walk through the alleyways to where the bus went from, stopping off at a couple of cafes en route for breakfast espressos.

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Obelisco di San Gennaro

Friday September 21st 2018

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After the meeting was over, I had a few days to go sightseeing, and I headed first to Vesuvius. On my way to Napoli Centrale station I passed the spire of San Gennaro, built nearly 400 years ago to commemorate the city not being destroyed in Vesuvius's 1631 eruption.

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Vesuvius

Friday September 21st 2018

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I got a train to Pompeii and a bus to Vesuvius. The road goes close to the top of the mountain with just a short hike up to the summit. I tried to hike quickly, but I was quite tired after a week of work and didn't think I was making much of a pace. But I managed to set the 13th fastest time up there out of about 900 on Strava, which I was quite happy with.

It was a very hazy day and I couldn't see much of the surrounding countryside. The crater looked totally peaceful, no steam rising and no real indication of any kind that this is an active volcano that's very likely to erupt in the fairly near future.

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Night boat to Stromboli

Friday September 21st 2018

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Getting a night boat to Stromboli had been one of my travel dreams for a really long time. I came down from Vesuvius, got the train back to Naples, and then headed to the port to catch the ferry. It was a beautiful warm evening and I was in an excellent mood as we headed south.

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Passing Vesuvius

Friday September 21st 2018

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Vesuvius loomed in the night as we headed out of Naples. Seagulls flew alongside the boat as it sailed, leaving strange trails in my long exposure photographs.

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Approaching Stromboli

Saturday September 22nd 2018

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The boat was very quiet and I had plenty of space to sleep comfortably. I got up in the small hours when it was still pitch black, to have a look out and see if I could see Stromboli. In my imagination I'd pictured a distant cone on the horizon, silhouetted against the stars, with a red glow appearing occasionally at the top. The reality was exactly that.

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Aeolian sunrise

Saturday September 22nd 2018

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The boat docked at about 6am. It would be a while before I could go to where I was staying, but luckily there was a cafe open by the dock. I got several espressos while I waited for the sun to come up. It was a beautiful sunrise when it came, and soon it was a warm sunny morning. When the hour became somewhat civilised, I headed off around the island to the place I was staying.

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Old summit path

Saturday September 22nd 2018

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In the evening, I headed up the volcano. Tomorrow, once I'd recovered from a night at sea, I would go to the summit; this evening I was only aiming for a viewpoint at about 400m above sea level, at the edge of the Sciara del Fuoco, where lava from the craters rolls down towards the sea. The path used to continue on to the summit from this viewpoint, but after a large eruption in 2002, this path was closed and a new, more sheltered one built.

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Afternoon eruption

Saturday September 22nd 2018

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From quite a distance from the viewpoint, I got great views of lava explosions, and heard the awesome roaring clearly. In the daytime, it wasn't possible to see that the lava was glowing, but as the sun got lower, the redness started to become clear. Every few minutes, there would be a roar and a spray of rocks, which then rolled away down the Sciara to the sea.

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Lava fountains

Saturday September 22nd 2018

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Lava trails

Saturday September 22nd 2018

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The village

Sunday September 23rd 2018

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Tyrrhenian Sea

Sunday September 23rd 2018

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Climbing Stromboli

Sunday September 23rd 2018

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Summit ridge

Sunday September 23rd 2018

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At the crater's edge

Sunday September 23rd 2018

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Nightfall at the crater

Sunday September 23rd 2018

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Strombolian activity

Sunday September 23rd 2018

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Descent

Sunday September 23rd 2018

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Volcano by moonlight

Sunday September 23rd 2018

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Sciara del Fuoco

Monday September 24th 2018

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Boat to Naples

Monday September 24th 2018

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Passing Capri

Tuesday September 25th 2018

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Vesuvius view

Tuesday September 25th 2018

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