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 Ulixes.it is a bit outdated but still useful for learning about the Campi Flegrei; Slow Travel has a nice introduction with an overview map.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 Dicaearchia 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, albeit somewhat gritty, charm. It's also the hometown of actress Sophia Loren.

3 main sections of Pozzuoli:

  • Porto (port) - where ferries dock, home to fancy restaurants hugging the water and fish market
  • Lungomare (aka Via Napoli aka Corso Umberto I aka Lungomare Pertini) - nice boardwalk with dozens of sidewalk restaurants and bars
  • Anfiteatro (Amphitheater) - Roman ruins and smaller pubs.

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
  • hours/information at Parco Archeologico Campi Flegrei
  • For more information about the ruins themselves, Ulixes' anfiteatro page gives a good overview in English but has outdated hours; also see Wikipedia page.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 (Google Maps link). The fact that Pozzuoli had two amphitheaters shows you how important it was in the Roman empire. There's also the ruins of a stadium (racetrack) build by Antonius Pius, Stadio Antonio Pio (Google Maps link).

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.)

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 (except by special appointment, see below), it's cool to see the Roman market on your way to the new Italian market.

Rione Terra

This "land district" is the site of the original acropolis of the ancient Roman and Greek cities of Dicaearchia 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."

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. (There's not much to see but it's fun to drive through.)

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. The "bumpy tunnel" (full of speed bumps) 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

This Castle built by the Aragonese dynasty 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)

Terme Romane di Baia (Roman 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.

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 diving. Rai's Underwater Baiae page also has useful information.


Cuma

The modern town of Cuma was once the ancient city of Cumae, the first Greek colony on the Italian peninsula, and was famous well into Roman times as the home of the oracle Sibyl.

Cuma Archeological Park (Cumae)

  • Antro della Sibillia - a trapezoidal 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. Atlas Obscura has more info/photos.
  • Acropolis - just above the Antro, has breathtaking views and 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.
  • 081-854-3060, hours/information at Parco Archeologico Campi Flegrei
  • 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 (or "Piscina Mirabile", 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).

Lago Patria

Site of the JFC base, this small town is on the ancient via Domitiana that connected Rome and Pozzuoli (Puteoli)

Liternum

Ruins of a Roman town that was famous as the retirement home for General Scipio Africanus. More at Atlas Obscura and Naples LDM.

Tickets

Organization of several sites including 4 that charge admission (Pozzuoli Amphitheater, Baia Castle/Museum, Baia Roman Spas, and Cuma Archeological Park), costing [as of 2021] €4 for a single site or €8 for all 4 sites (within 2 days); kids <18 are free. They also offer an annual €20 "myfleg card" the Artecard (see below) is a better deal for most (adult) residents (since it also covers the more expensive/popular sites like Pompei, Herculaneum, Archeological Museum, Caserta Palace, Paestum...).

Some of the sites (Pozzuoli Macellum / Tempio di Serapide, Miseno Piscina Mirabilis, Parco Sommerso) require reservations to access by emailing pa-fleg.comunicazione@beniculturali.it

This card includes the most popular museums/sights (except the Solfatara and Miseno Piscina Mirabilis, which are privately owned). If you live in Naples and are at all interested in history/museums, consider getting the annual €43 [as of 2021] Artecard 365 Gold Pass (or if you're 18-24 years old the €33 365 Gold Pass Young), which lets you visit most sights 2 times for free. Occasionally they also offer discounts.

(Note: the main site says you get access to all the Parco Archeologico Campi Flegrei sites 2x/year but other sites talk about a €2 charge, this might be the discounted price for short-term Artecards who have used up their free visits?)