This area will enchant and surprise you at every step, thanks to its fantastic landscapes, archaeological sites of Greek and Roman age, the Solfatara phenomena, a quivering nightlife, and also fantastic beaches. It’s reachable with public transportation, or you can decide to book a private guide tour.
Below, I listed the main attractions that this area offers. But, if you want to spend an evening at a beach bar or dine on Pozzuoli's seafront, please click here.
And if you want to learn more, I invite you to click on our blog. The blog is constantly updated and will offer you not only ideas on what to visit, but give you technical details of the individual monuments of Naples.
The Phlegraean Fields are a large volcanic area situated to the west of Naples, in the Pozzuoli’s gulf, whose limits are given by the Posillipo Hill, the Camaldoli hill, the Sanseverino hill, the Acropolis of Cuma, and Mount of Procida.
Lying mostly underwater, the area of the caldera consists of 24 craters and volcanic edifices. Hydrothermal activity can be observed at Lucrino, Agnano and the town of Pozzuoli. There are also effusive gaseous manifestations in the Solfatara crater, the mythological home of the Roman god of fire, Vulcan. The area also features bradyseismic phenomena, which are most evident at the Macellum of Pozzuoli (misidentified as a temple of Serapis), as geologists puzzled over bands of boreholes left by marine mollusks on marble columns, showing that the level of the site in relation to sea level had varied.
Currently, the most important city of the area and the most populated one is Pozzuoli founded around the 530AC, but also the town of Bacoli.
Flavian Amphitheater of Pozzuoli
The Amphitheater of Pozzuoli, built in the first century a.D. by the same architects and with the same materials of Colosseum, is the third in size in Italy, after the one in Capua. Thanks to the preservation of the undergrounds, only in Pozzuoli is possible to understand the complicated organization that was behind the performances, which occurred in the beautiful arena.
An interesting inscription was found: Colonia Flavia Augusta - Puteolana Pecunia Sua, specifying that the financing of the masterpiece was totally charged to the citizens of Pozzuoli. This highlights the great opulence of the ancient Pozzuoli.
The Etruscan was the first population to start the gladiator’s fights, we suppose as a tribute for honor the deceased. Later on, even the Romans started to do the same with similar purpose, as the brothers Marcus and Giunio Bruto did for their late father in 246 BC. The fights were very loved by the people and by the politicians, that used it for earn votes, and giving free shows during the elections. In the ancient Rome were especially loved by the Emperors. At the beginning, the gladiators were just slaves and war prisoners, than even free citizens started to fight and they were trained in specifics training schools.
Opening hours: Wednesday trough Monday 9:00AM — one hour before down
The little promontory rounded by the sea, before being the Rione Terra, was the Acropolis of the “colony by Roman law” called Puteoli. For the Romans the word Acropolis meant something closer to our modern definition of city or management center, instead of the Greek meaning, more close to the religious aspect. The distribution of the lands to the colonists, can be done between the Solfatara area and the Gauro mount – according to the naturalistic expert Charles Dubois. This means that this ones were probably the borders of ancient Puteoli.
Saint Jerome, lived between the 347 and the 415 a.D. is the only source talking about a Greek colony in the Gulf of Pozzuoli, but in the territory was never found a trail of housing structures or Necropolis dating back to the 538 b.C., year of the estimated constitution. Archaeological trails and written sources report the constitution in the last decades of III century b.C., but it is sure to register the existence of the people of Pozzuoli starting from the Roman colony in 194 b.C. A visit to Ward Earth is essential for who wants to know the urban structures of the colony, and throughout a fascinating itinerary catch life moments of its citizens. The streets, the millstone, the tavern, the brothel, a noble place of worship stunning for its frescoes, and finally the Temple.
Opening Hours (Rione Terra)
Cathedral and Temple of Augustus
It was a fire in 1964 that destroyed the nave, forced him to the sages who discovered under the modern masonry columns, the architrave, the walls of the ancient temple cell. Already in 1634, at the behest of the bishop Martino de Léon some columns were thinned or removed to allow the construction of the side chapels, while the rear wall of the cell was torn down to allow the passage between the nave and the apse of the basilica. Perhaps part of the columns were used for the church above, since they appear different and very old age. Made during the Spanish rule here generations of Pozzuoli inhabitants have come to pray but none of them ever noticed that this cathedral was hiding something, had in fact been achieved by incorporating a structure much more ancient, a Roman temple, what is now called the "Temple of Augustus”.
The Temple of Augustus, built on the site of a more ancient temple of the Greek period and erected following the establishment of the colony, was rebuilt by the wealthy merchant Calpurnio in honor of Emperor Augustus, as reported by an inscription with a dedication: “L. Calpurnius Lf templum Augusto cumornamentis dsf" (translated in Lucius Calpurnius, son of Lucius, devoted to his cost this temple and its furnishings to Augustus). Everyone knew that the cathedral of Pozzuoli arise on the area of the Temple of Augustus, what was unknown was that the temple still existed, incorporated in the thick walls of the seventeenth century, although some Corinthian capitals above the side door of the building and other marble fragments could do the opposite lintel suspect.
The cathedral is unique peace of art and archeology renewed worldwide. It blends the Christian art, represented by the Baroque church designed by Bartolomeo Picchiatti, with the ancient Roman temple on which it rests, dedicated to Jupiter. A cheering crowd attended the preview of the reopening of the seventeenth-century cathedral, which was officially handed back to worship Sunday, May 11, 2014, after a solemn procession in which they were carried on the ancient rock statues of St. Gennaro, San Mulberry and San Procolo , the patron saint of Pozzuoli, which is named after the cathedral.
Antonino Pio Stadium
Emperor Antoninus Pius about 140 AD commanded to build this stadium in Pozzuoli in honor to his adoptive father the emperor Hadrian, died in 138 AD. He created also the “Eusebeia”, a celebration for remember the father. Nowadays is possible to see the monumental arch where the complex began and, by crossing the Domitian way, continued up to 300 meters. Unfortunately, most part of the track and the bleachers collapsed due to the Bradyseism phenomena — the gradual descent of the ground caused by the emptying of an underground magma chamber in the volcanic calderas — and over the centuries the soil lowered 12 meters. Tides had a decisive role weakening the structure of the platform, called starza, so when it lifted up again, most part of it crumbled. But the stadium continues to be a silent witness of it.
Necropolis of Celle Street
Among the Pozzuoli’s necropolis the Celle Street one is the most important and impressive. It runs along the Consularis Puteolis Capuam street and includes the Saint Vito area in the direction of Quarto. Like most roads of the Roman Age it was flanked by tombs from the first and second-century AD. In the first-century and until the middle of the second the most popular are the cremation tombs. After the cremation the remains of the deceased were placed in urns and deposited in cells called dovecote, for their typical form. Then the traditions changed in favor of the burial, with the deposition of the bodies in sepulchers embedded in the floor.
Along the road coming from Saint Vito, after the bend, were discovered fourteen mausoleums, all of them on the same side of the road, on the opposite one unfortunately just one was saved. The old family chapels were finely painted and decorated. The wealthy people of Pozzuoli showed their opulence by spending large amount of money on the construction and care of the graves of their loved ones. All the mausoleums have spaces where they consumed food in the company of the deceased, honoring their merits. The Cult of the dead, a way of expressing a deep spirituality in communion with the dear deceased, finds archaeological evidence in central southern Italy since the Eneolithic (culture of Rinaldo and Gaudo) and is still alive today. Among the fifteen mausoleums only one is distinguished by the architectural diversity and the intended use. The greatest of all, articulated on three floors, offered the possibility of burial to the members of a “Collegia”. This term, used for the first time by the great scholar Theodor Mommsen, indicates the workers operating in the same trade. Who, in ancient Rome, joined in order to better care for their interests from a real union point of view. Protected by Roman law, they also used to give a worthy burial to the associates. News writers on the subject are numerous, but in Pozzuoli we have evidence that beyond reasonable doubt attests to the existence and activities of the Associations of Arts and crafts in ancient Rome.
Church of Saint Rafael the Archangel
This church is a Baroque gem in the city of Pozzuoli, just across the Earth Ward and close to the old town.
The construction of the Church of Saint Rafael started in the eighteenth-century. At first it was thought to renovate and expand the chapel dedicated to St. Catherine of Alexandria, but then it estimated that it was more useful and convenient to break down the existing building to build a new one. During the following centuries the church had many modifications, as attested by the documentation in the Diocesan museum. It is a perfect example of Baroque style, for the dimensions and the triumph of the eighteenth century style present in the structure. "San Raffaele" is the only building of this kind present in the city. The uniqueness of this small church is given by the Baroque being, but the classic design rule.The only surviving peace of the old structure are the floors, that still today show the passage of the peregrines over the centuries.
Behind the architecture
The structure is also embellished by numerous art works, both sculptures and painting. Among these, the works of Giacinto Diano, an artist of Pozzuoli. The Church is open to the public and for the mess.
The current opening hours are: Tuesday – Thursday – Saturday: from 10:00 am to 12:00
Instead, the liturgical functions are: The Holy Rosary at 10:30 am. Holy Mass: Every Saturday 9:30 am; 1st Friday of the month 9:30 a.m. (except July – August); 2nd Friday of the month 9:30 (except July – August).
Macellum of Pozzuoli
Walking along the Pozzuoli’s area, it is impossible not to stumble onto three ancient marble columns that rise up in the middle of the city. When were they built? And what do they represent? Let’s discover this together.
Between 1750 and 1756 King Charles III of Naples had excavations carried out in Pozzuoli, as already made in Pompeii and Ercolano. The excavations exposed three large marble columns which gave the site its name of the “three column vineyard”. Then, between 1806 and 1818 further excavations exposed the whole of the "Serapeum" or "Temple of Serapis”.
The Structures of the Temple
The first settlement of Pozzuoli was in 194 BC and was called Puteoli. The building was in the form of an arcaded square courtyard, surrounded by two stories buildings. Shops lined the marble floored colonnade forming an arcade with 34 grey granite columns. The main entrance and vestibule were positioned on a main axis, which lined up across a “tholos” in the center of the square to the exedra for worship which had a portico formed by four large cipollino marble columns. The exedra had three niches for statues of divinities giving protection to the market, including the sculpture of Serapis. The tholos in the centre of the square was a circular building standing on a podium reached by four symmetrically placed access stairways, with sixteen African marble columns supporting a domed vault. Marine animals decorated friezes around the base of the tholos. The courtyard had four secondary entrances on its longer sides, with latrines in the corners of the colonnade and four (probable) tabernae with their own external entrances as well as access from the arcade.
Market or Temple?
More recent investigations of the vertical movements have shown that the site is near the centre of the Phlegraean Fields and has been subject to repeated "slow earthquakes" or bradyseism of this shallow caldera, resulting in relatively slow subsidence over long periods, drowning the ruin, punctuated by periods of relatively rapid uplift that caused it to re-emerge. The finding of the statue of Serapide made think that was a Temple dedicated to the God, but in the end it was understood that it was a Market, also called “slaughterhouse”.
There were big and extremely expansive columns, statues in honor to gods and emperors, generous cladding and fine marble pavement, an elegant fountain and a majestic façade. Thinking to a market and conceive housewives making their own business in this fine ambient is hard. But the two statues put to protect the lucky trade leave no doubts: it was a market. Two thousands years before the mall, Puteoli invented and built its own clearinghouse of goods served by a big port.
On the big columns is possible to observe the holes made by the marine mollusks, showing that for a period they were underwater: the study of the temple helped so much the experts who are studying the bradyseism phenomenon.