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Campi Flegrei

The "Phlegrean Fields" (so named by the Greeks, who were amazed by the "burning" volcanic activity) are a large Western suburb of Naples, encompassing an area rich with history and natural beauty (including Monte Barbaro/Cratere del Gauro, now known as Carney Park).  The following are some of the main sights to see.  Ulixes.it is a bit outdated but still useful for learning about the Campi Flegrei; Slow Travel has a nice introduction with an overview map.

Pozzuoli

Originally the Greek city of Dicaerchia and later the Roman city of Puteoli (where St. Paul stopped on his way to Rome--check it out in Acts 28:13-14), Pozzuoli still has an ancient, albiet gritty, charm.  More recently it became famous as the hometown of actress Sophia Loren.
 
Pozzuoli has three major hubs:  The porto (port), where ferries dock and the fanciest restaurants hug the water.  Via Napoli (actually called Corso Umberto I or Lungomare Pertini), with its new boardwalk and dozens of sidewalk restaurants and bars.  Finally, the amphitheater, with its Roman ruins and smaller pubs.
 
The following are some of the main sights in Pozzuoli:
 

Anfiteatro Flavio (Flavian Amphitheater)

The third largest Roman Amphitheater in Italy (after the Colosseum in Rome and Capua amphitheater near Caserta), this former venue for gladiator fights still preserves many of the underground passages which were used to move fighters, beasts, and scenery to the main arena above.  40°49.55'N 14°7.5'E at Via Nicola Terracciano 75. Open 9 to one hour before sunset, except Tues, 1/1, 5/1, and 12/25 (also afternoons November - March and after 2 on Saturday? might also take off 1-2?).  €4 (combination card for up to 4 Campi Flegrei sites in 2 days), free with ArteCard, also free the first Sunday of the month, 081-525-6007. Napoli Unplugged's Flavian Amphitheater page is one of the best sites in English.  Ulixes' anfiteatro page gives a good overview in English but has outdated hours; also see Wikipedia page.

[Little known fact: Pozzuoli actually has two amphitheaters.  The older, smaller one ("anfiteatro minore") dates from the Republic of Rome and only has a few walls remaining, mostly near the Metropolitana train tracks and Via Vigna.  The fact that Pozzuoli had two amphitheaters shows you how important it was in the Roman empire.]

Vulcano Solfatara

These hot sulfurus vents have been amazing people since ancient times; this was also the site where San Gennaro (Saint Janarius) was beheaded.  (The Sanctuary of San Gennaro commemorating his martyrdom is just outside and up the hill from the Solfatara gates.)  Open 8:30 until 1 hour before dusk, €6, 5-10 yrs €4, <= 4 yrs free, 20% discount with ArteCard; see the official website for more information.  Recently, the Solfatara caused a stir when a study proclaimed it a "natural Viagra"!

Tempio di Serapide (Macellum)

Because they found a statue of the god Serapide (Serapis), early archeologists thought this was the Temple of Serapide--a name that still sticks (e.g. on many of the nearby restaurants and streets).  However, it was actually an elaborate Roman marketplace or Macellum--I like to think of it as the elegant food court in the Roman mall.  Although you can't enter the site itself, it's cool to see the Roman market on your way to the new Italian market...  Rai's Serapide Temple page also has information.

Rione Terra

This "land district" is the site of the original acropolis of the ancient Roman and Greek cities of Dicaerchia and Puteoli.  Shuttered in the 80's after a devastating earthquake, many of the ancient underground ruins and 17th/18th-Century palaces above are now restored and available for tours.  It's almost an "underground Pompeii."  Guided tour (in Italian) at various times, mostly weekends; try emailing info@associazionenemea.it or calling 800-144-716 or 324-905-3942 for an appointment. Without an appointment, you might be able to visit the Cathedral most Saturdays 10-12/5:30-7:30 or Sunday 10-1/5:30-7:30 (except August); more details on the Pozzuoli San Procolo Cathedral website (in Italian). (Other numbers/emails listed elsewhere: prenotazioni@comune.pozzuoli.na.it, 081-199-36286, 018-199-36287) Ulixe's Rione Terra page has useful history but outdated current ticket information; Jeff Matthews' Naples Life Death & Miracles also has a nice (albeit old) intro; the official (Italian) page appears to be this one on welcometourist.it

Other Pozzuoli Attractions and Activities

Arco Felice/Lucrino

These towns are to the west of Pozzuoli, with two large lakes (Lucrino and Averno) dividing up the land.

Arco Felice Vecchio

This old Roman "happy arch" seems impossibly high considering its ancient construction, and is still used by cars.

Lago D'Averno

Home to the Temple of Apollo, this lake featured in Virgil's Aeneid.

Monte Nuovo

The "new mountain" that sprang up almost overnight next to Lago Lucrino in 1538, this is now is a natural park that you can hike throughout.  The "bumpy tunnel" from the Tang to Baia/Bacoli runs underneath.

Baia

A cute seaside town, Baia was once the home of Roman Imperial villas, which explains the rich archealogical sites.

Lago Fusaro/Casina Vanvitelliana (Casino Reale di Vanvitelli)

Fusaro lake features a splendid house built on the water by Vanvitelli for Bourbon King of Naples Carlo I, who loved to watch the geese on the lake.

Castello Aragonese di Baia/Museo Archeologico dei Campi Flegrei


Temple of Venus and Baia Castle
This Aragonese Castle has splendid views of the Bay of Pozzuoli, as well as interesting artifacts in its Archeological Museum (including statues found underwater in the regions nearby), T-Sun 9-3:45, €4 (for combination card with other Campi Flegrei sites), free with Artecard, Via Castello 45, 081-523-3797.  Rai's Archeological Museum page.

Parco Archeologico/Terme di Baia (Archeological Park/Spas of Baia)

This sprawling archeological park encompasses many of the villas and spas that rich Romans vacationed in.  Many were mis-labeled as "temples" in the 19th century, so the Tempio di Venere (Temple of Venus), visible from the Baia port, and the Tempio di Diana (Temple of Diana), a big half-dome now used for concerts, were both actually rooms in a huge thermal spa.   Touritaly's page has nice maps and photos, and Rai's Baia archeological park page also has useful information.  Main park is at Via Fusaro 37, open every day but Mon from 9 until 1 hour before sunset, €4 (for combination card with other Campi Flegrei sites), free with Artecard, 081-868-7592.

Parco Sommerso di Baia (Baia Underwater Park)

Bradyseism, a slow earthquake causing the land to sink, caused much of the old cities of Baia and Portus Julius to sink into the sea.  Now these facinating sites can be visited via glass-bottomed boat or SCUBA divingRai's Underwater Baiae page also has useful information.

Cuma

Some of the oldest ruins in Italy are near the modern city Cuma in Cumae, which was the first Greek colony on the Italian peninsula, and famed long afterward as the home of the oracle Sibyl.

Cuma Archeological Park (Cumae)


Sibyl's Cave at Cumae
First check out the trapezoidal Antro della Sibillia, a cave where the oracle Sibyl would tell prophecies...or maybe it's just a military fortress.  Either way, the strangely shaped walls interrupted by shafts of light is cool.  Then climb up to the top of the acropolis, and enjoy the breathtaking views before checking out the remains of what once were splendid temples to Apollo and Jove.  Legend has it that this is where Icarus fell after going too close to the sun--hence the temple to Apollo the Sun God.  Rai's Cumae page has useful information, as does the Pinto-Storey Hotel's page.  Open every day (except 1/1, 5/1, and 12/25) from 9 to one hour before sunset, €2.50, free with Artecard, 081-854-3060.  To get to Cumae, go past Touchdown Jesus, through the Arco Felice Vecchio, turn right at the T, and then make a left following signs to the archeological park.

Miseno

Once the home of the Roman Navy, Miseno still has Piscina Mirabilis (an ancient water cistern), the underwater remains of Portus Julius, and various other Roman vestiges.  The area is also home to beaches and a lighthouse at Capo Miseno (the cape).
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