The interaction between man and the Vesuvian environment

The Vesuvius rises in the middle of a wide plain crossed by the river Sarno and overlooks the Gulf of Naples; the territory has been inhabited since ancient times, which has allowed us to have evidence farther in time than for any other volcano in the world but, for the same reason, many of its eruptions have caused damage and human loss that have profoundly affected the development of the region. Since prehistoric times there are testimonies of human and productive settlements, favoured by the fertility of the soils, the beauty of the landscape and the characteristics of a territory that allows an easy settlement for the availability of the primary elements for survival: climate, water, roads. In the past, but especially in recent times, the Vesuvian villages and the city of Naples itself have been reconstructed and developed on the deposits of the eruptions of Vesuvius and the Phlegraean Fields. The volcano is a prominent presence in the territory and has conditioned the economic, social and cultural aspects of the inhabitants; after all the historical eruptions the populations, after a relative period of time necessary to the exhaustion of the phenomenon, have returned to the places attracted by the renewed fertility of the territory, have reconstructed their houses, using the materials on the spot, and reconstructed their economy based mainly on agricultural production. Extremely favourable physical conditions for living have been counteracted by environmental conditions, linked to risk, ecological, cultural and landscape degradation, and aggravated by memory loss on the dangers of the volcano, which have stimulated speculative interests.