Vesuvius, which rises to a height of 3,891 feet some seven miles southeast of Naples, is the only active volcano on the European mainland.

The first recorded eruption of Vesuvius occurred Aug. 24, A. D. 79, when the cities of Herculaneum, Pompeii and Stabiae were covered with ashes and lava. More recent eruptions happened in 1906, in 1929, when several towns were destroyed, and in 1944, when the village of San Sebastiano was destroyed.Despite the volcano's history of disastrous eruptions, many people live on the lower slopes and the plains below Vesuvius. The soil is extremely fertile and the area is famous for its vineyards.