És famosa per l'erupció de l'any 79 dC. que va sepultar les vil·les romanes de Pompeia i Herculà.
El Vesuvi propi té 1.277 m i el cim del Somma (l'antic cràter destruït per una erupció) 1.132 m.
El Vesuvi té un cràter actiu; és l'únic volcà actiu de l'Europa continental. Les seves rodalies són molt fèrtils i hi abunden les vinyes.
La muntanya és un parc nacional des de 1996, l'accés al cim del cràter està controlat i és de pagament.
Mount Vesuvius is best known for its eruption in AD 79 that led to the burying and destruction of the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. They were never rebuilt, although surviving townspeople and probably looters did undertake extensive salvage work after the destructions. The towns' locations were eventually forgotten until their accidental rediscovery in the 18th century.
The eruption also changed the course of the Sarno River and raised the sea beach, so that Pompeii was now neither on the river nor adjacent to the coast. Vesuvius itself underwent major changes – its slopes were denuded of vegetation and its summit changed considerably due to the force of the eruption. Vesuvius has erupted many times since and is today regarded as one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world because of the population of 3,000,000 people living nearby and its tendency towards explosive (Plinian) eruptions. It is the most densely populated volcanic region in the world.