There were many eruptions over time, the three last in 472, 1631 and 1944. Pompeji and Herculaneum were destroy in 79 CE. Today you can still see smoke coming from the Vulcano, but only very little.
In earlier days from 1880 on a funicular (funiculare del Vesuvio) brought visitors to the top. After 1944 this was replaced by a road and a chairlift (the latter closed in 1984). Today you can get up by bus – but this one stops at the middle at a tourist shop.