Sunday, March 23, 2014

In April 1944, as Allied armies waged a difficult battle to retake Italy from Nazi Germany, Mount Vesuvius near Naples erupted. It was the last great eruption of the mighty volcano. Vesuvius still smokes, and occasionally there are explosions or the flow of sticky, dense magma. But no major eruption since.

The people of Naples know about the dangers Vesuvius poses. But, as volcanologist Giuseppe Imbo said at the time: "A marvelous thing, my Vesuvius. It covers land with precious ash that makes the earth fertile and grapes grow, and wine. That's why, after every eruption, people rebuild their homes on the slopes of the volcano. That is why they call the slopes of Vesuvius the compania felix -- the happy land."

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