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Phlegrean Fields (also called Campi Flegrei – “the burning plain”) is a caldera with two historic eruptions and signs of unrest in recent years. It extends to the west of the Gulf of Naples from the hill of Posillipo to Cuma, and includes the islands of Nisida, Procida, Vivara and Ischia. This area was extremely important for the developing of the western world: the first greek colonies were extabilished here, dating 8th century BC. Then came the Romans, the Anjus, the Aragonese, the Borbone, the Savoia.
Overall it’s a gorgeous place to visit and to have both relax and fun.
Visit Campi Flegrei!
Pozzuoli, the roman Puteoli
Pozzuoli was originally a Greek settlement, called Dicearchia (city of the right government), founded by refugees from the island of Samo, under the tyranny of Policrates. In Roman times it was known as Puteoli and was a very important port city, larger and more important in that period than Naples.
It’s also been severely affected by another seismic phenomenon called bradyseism (from the Greek, it means literally “slow tremor”) which causes the level of the land to rise and fall much more slowly than an earthquake or more typical volcanic eruption. There are innumerable bits of Roman buildings scattered around the area in apparent neglect, most of which remains fairly incomprehensible to the casual visitor.
Cristiano Fiorentino realized a map to help reading the remains of the past world. You can check it out here.
Visit Pozzuoli! Anyway, please don’t miss:
- The Flavian Amphitheather, third by size among the biggest roman amphitheaters.
- The Macellum, called Temple of Serapis, the main marked of the roman city
- Rione Terra and Temple of Augustus, once the first roman settlement on top of a hill overwatching the sea. There is a nice underground route to explore the roman streets and buildings of Puteoli. Do not miss the Duomo of Pozzuoli – a roman temple transformed in a baroque church, and today completely restored.
- Villa Avellino, a nice public park once part of a very important Renaissance Villa. Inside you can spot alot of archaeological remains.
- Public Baths also known as Temple of Neptune, once big complex during Hadrian empire.
- Via Celle roman Necropolis and street, it’s worth a walk visiting at least from outside the first bit of the necropolis in via Celle, and the beginning of P
- The Church of St. Raphael Archangel, a marvelous pearl of baroque example in Pozzuoli
- The Church of St. Januarius, a very ancient complex built on top of the place where S. Gennaro and other martyrs were killed by romans.
- Volcano Sofatara, an extremely intresting place for geology enthusiasts. It’s a big crater with active phenomena like boiling muds, geysers, and sulphurous exhalations.
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Bacoli, Monte di Procida and surroundings
A little farther down the coast from Baia Castle you come to the pleasant little village of Bacoli, best known to tourists for the great Roman underground reservoirs – the Piscina Mirabilis and the Cento Camerelle. These reservoirs were fed by the aqueduct system and supplied water to the villas, gardens of the area and to the Roman naval base in Miseno. The Piscina can be visited by contacting the custodian who lives nearby.
The end of the line on this side of the Bay is Capo Miseno. Here two lakes connected by a man-made channel to the sea became home to the Roman naval base when it was forced to move from nearby Lago Lucrino when its harbor silted up. It was from his villa here that Pliny the Elder, commander of the fleet, witnessed the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD. Today there are some nice beaches around Miseno and there’s a nice walk around the lake and the modern marina. There are bits and pieces of Roman ruins in the area, but none are really set up for visitors. At the tip of the cape, there’s a pretty lighthouse. It’s a bit of a hike but offers great views of the Bay as far as Naples, Capri, and the Sorrentine Peninsula.
Visit Bacoli! Do not miss:
- Archaeologycal Museum of Campi Flegrei inside the Aragonese Castle of Baia, a fortress built in 1495 during the spanish vice-reign, very similar to Castle St. Elmo in Naples.
- Baiae Archaological Park, excavations in one of the favourite places for the rich and wealthy romans: full of baths, thermal structures and domes.
- Piscina Mirabils and Cento Camerelle, the imperial age water reservioir for the roman military navy in Misenum
- Casina Vanvitelliana, the small but amazing house on the lake Fusaro built by Luigi Vanvitelli for the Borbone King.
- Tomb of Agrippina in Bacoli, a maritime nymphaeum of villa thought to be the tomb of Agrippina.
- Roman Theater in Misenum
- Sacello / Temple of Augustales
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