english yellow pages



PHLEGREAN FIELDS, THE BURNING LAND
In the places of myth from Nisida to Pozzuoli,
from Capo Miseno to Cumae. a Cuma .

It is here in the burning Phlegrean Fields (from the Greek flegraios) that, according to mythology, Hercules and the gods defeated the Titans who were eager to seize Olympus. It is also here that emperors and Roman patricians raised their splendid villas, dedicating them to pure leisure. This is a suggestive volcanic area made mysterious by brimstone haze and noxious fumes. This land in never-ending movement is rich in thermal springs, vapor jets, small lakes given to eruption, archeological ruins, breath-taking sights of sparkling sea-side resorts and luxuriant hills fertilized by ancient flows of monstrous craters and tamed today by erosion of wind and water. Furthermore, it is here that the fascinating cult of the Ancient world was born, even before Pompeii or Herculaneum were uncovered, thanks to woodcuts that as early as the 1500's immortalized landscape that was later part of descriptions of the Grand Tour, becoming then the subject of paintings in the 1700's. In the area of the Phlegrean Fields, the visitor has but to choose from a wide variety, from nature excursions to both land and sea archeology to architectural-religious-gastronomic itineraries. For a bird's eye view, however, the ideal point is the Camaldoli Hermitage, which offers a breath-taking view of the gulfs of Pozzuoli and Baia, with the nearby islands of Procida and Ischia.
 

Nisida.
Curled up like a cat, the tiny island blends deceptively into the foot of Posillipo, dividingTrentaremi Bay from Coroglio Beach, recalling days of old, when Nisida was praised by Pliny for its asparagus, by Cicero for its opulence, by Statius for its luscious vegetation, and by others as a rich wild-rabbit reserve. Nisida was donated by Emperor Constantine to the Neapolitan Episcopate. In 1500 it became the property of the Duke of Amalfi, Giovanni Piccolomini, who built a grand castle on it with a watch tower that still survives despite attacks by pirates and the long clash between Pozzuoli and Naples. The latter's supremacy turned Nisida from a natural paradise into a seaside lazaret to quarantine crews and goods suspected of bearing contagion. Now connected by causeway to the ancient fishing village of Coroglio on the mainland, the island is forbidden to the public since it is the site of a juvenile correction facility. Nevertheless, all around the mythical small volcanic island, there swarm both sail boats and motor craft, venturing to little inlets such as Porto Paone (the ancient crater on the side opposite the mainland) and the floating dock that, in summer, hosts boats of all tonnages always ready to set sail for nearby islands and bays. The dock also attracts people to small open-air restaurants and nightclubs that have mushroomed in the old fishing village of Coroglio, presenting, as they do, their beautiful view of Nisida.

Bagnoli.
The ex-Italsider complex is right where Naples borders on Bagnoli, a site that, at the end of the 1800's, Lamont Young saw as a likely tourist attraction. But at the beginning of the 1900's, instead of forests and fruit trees, instead of fields of grain, legumes and tubers, there sprang up steel mills and cement factories. Since the mid-1990's, this area of Bagnoli has been undergoing a full rebirth thanks to its conversion back into something that leaves more and more space to sea and beaches. Bagnoli presents, nevertheless, interesting examples of industrial archeology such as the Cittŗ della Scienza [Science City] and the Arenile, a multi-functional space that blends art and culture with music, entertainment and leisure time

Pozzuoli.
Via Napoli, gong and sun-drenched, is the road separates the Gulf of Pozzuoli from the slopes of Mount Olibano (an ancient stone quarry) as it winds along the coastline, dotted here and there with Art Nouveau villas, among which are the Pozzuoli Thermal Baths and some bathing establishments. The coast road leads to the doorway of ancient Roman Puteoli (194 A.C.), the seaside colony that the Greeks had already named Dicearchia (530 B.C.). Dominated by the Rione Terra, the fortified medieval citadel is sheltered atop the tuff promontory, and is just a few steps away from the Temple of Serapis and the Flavian Amphitheater. Pozzuoli is famous for a thousand reasons, ranging from archeological monuments to the enchanting fish market, from the bradyseism phenomenon to the site of the martyrdom of San Gennaro-not to forget the thousand fish eateries and the charms of Pozzuoli's most illustrious daughter: Sophia Loren! There is so much to see in Pozzuoli, that to do everything in a single day is simply not possible. This is especially the case if, after visiting the town and touring the Solfatara, you want more than just a basic idea of local volcanic activity and would like, instead, the benefits of a quick trip to the thermal baths where you can abandon yourself to steam baths and vapor rooms. (There is a seprate itinerary for churches since there are such a number to cover due to the ancient religious vocation of the town, the seat of historically renowned dioceses.)
 

Baia.
It is here that visitors truly enter the land of myth and immerse themselves in most spectacular natural landscapes. It begins with Punta Epitaffio, so called from the inscription that don Pedro de Toledo, the Spanish Viceroy, placed there to enhance the pleasantness of the site, in particular the nearby Baths of Nero. Under the inscription, just a few meters below the surface of the water, the visitor may admire the submerged city the ruins of which (statues, amphorae and pitchers, anchors, tools, columns and capitals) are currently kept at the Archeological Museum of the Phlegrean Fields in Baia's Aragonese Castle. In Roman times, the coasts and lands of Baia were so renowned that, in the last century of the Republic, Baia was most sought after as a vacation resort. Thus, having a villa in this area became a genuine status symbol, a sign of prestige and social achievement. It is nevertheless true that the property became public, especially in the Imperial Era, either through confiscation or through hereditary legacy. Consequently, the same Baia that lacked a forum and public buildings, became for its illustrious guests a city well equipped with all the comforts: temples, shops, the thermal baths, the ruins of which can still be admired inside the Archeological Park; or, another example, the Temple of Venus by the small tourist port. It is from this port that coastal excursions and visits to the submerged city now depart on glass-bottom boats; it is the only way for visitors unable to dive to see the ancient Portus Julius, a labyrinth of narrow streets and structures built using the opus reticulatum method, complete with mosaics on walls, and the coming and going of fish and algae.
 
Bacoli.
Past Baia the visitor finds Bacoli, the ancient Bauli (oxen) in memory of Hercules' passing through with the Herd of Geryon's. A happy little resort town, Bacoli was born as a military port to host the glorious Roman Fleet and turned, over time, into a small fishing town. The town is now known for its skill in raising mussels. The visitor, however, is not only enchanted by the specialties offered by restaurants and inns in the area, but also by the astounding Roman cisterns such as the Piscina Mirabilis, in the heart of the historic center, as well as by the Cento Camerelle [hundred small rooms], the water tank in the patrician home where tradition says Agrippina dwelled before being killed by her son, Nero. On this topic, there is the Tomb of Agrippina, just as interesting and suggestive. Yet, for those who have had enough of monuments, ruins and archeology and who think it time to go for a dive or take a short lunch break, the choice is either to hop over to Capo Miseno, where the beach is dotted by bars and restaurants, or to take a peek at the little island of San Martino at Monte di Procida.
 
Phlegrean Lakes
Lakes are a reoccurring and characteristic element of the Phlegrean landscape. A short distance away from the coast, almost all of them are of volcanic origin and, even though they are a bit inland, they are nevertheless closely connected to the sea. Likewise, tightly knitted to one another are the lakes of Averno and Lucrino : the former is more placid, the latter livelier; both are very suggestive indeed, and they were the stage of ancient strategies of Republican and Imperial Rome. Beyond Monte di Procida, in the area inland between Torregŗveta and Cumae, one finds Fusaro, easily recognized by the slim wharf that joins the elegant Bourbon shooting lodge to the mainland.
Cumae
The acropolis is all that is left of the first city of the colonies of Greater Greece, founded in 8th century B.C. by colonists in exile from the Eubean Island, their motherland. It sits in a magnificent strategic position facing the sea and is today in a suggestive archeological park, part of a nature oasis with a 360į view that spreads from Licola and Mount Grillo to Lake Fusaro, from Monte di Procida to the islands of Ischia and Capri. Yet Cumae is not just the first city in this area, by any means; it was also one of the richest and most educated, so much so that its inhabitants, the Cumeans, very soon took on the role of founders of new colonies such as Parthenope and Neapolis. The Cumeans clashed and won against the Etruscans; they were then defeated first by the Samnites and later by the Romans, thanks to whom, nevertheless, Cumae rose again during the Age of Augustus. It is precisely on these Eubean shores that Virgil places the main character of his Aeneid. Indeed, fate reserved for Aeneas the privilege of descending into Hades after having questioned the priestess oracle of Apollo, the Sybil, who would in turn toss forth mysterious responses about the future by writing them on pages that she would then scatter to the wind. It was the task of those beseeching her to interpret them correctly !