Have you ever had to plan a trip or a weekend out with a group of friends, and find out that everyone has different interests? There is a friend interested in cultural destinations only, the sporting one that loves walking in nature and venturing into different places, the one that sees the holiday as a haven of absolute relaxation. You will be happy to find out that there is a path that will get everyone to agree. With its rich archaeological heritage, many breathtaking landscapes to discover and thermal waters in which to relax, the Phlegraean Fields Regional Park is certainly the right choice for your next trip.
Not to mention the fact that, if you are fond of mythology, you can’t certainly miss some of the most fascinating places you heard about when you were in school: just think of the entrance to the underworld crossed by Ulysses or the Sibyl’s Cave mentioned in Virgil’s Aeneid.
Why you should visit the Phlegraean Fields Regional Park
Established in 2003, the Phlegraean Fields Regional Park protects an area of about 8000 hectares, coinciding with the municipalities of Naples, Pozzuoli, Bacoli and Monte di Procida. This territory is characterized by a volcanic system (Archiflegreo) that is constantly evolving: even though the last eruption in the Phlegraean Fields occurred in 1538, it is also true that this area has always been subjected to very intense bradyseism crises (the last one in 1983). It is precisely this geological peculiarity that has contributed to create extremely suggestive landscapes in the Phlegraean Fields area: the Park includes an extensive system of lakes, some of brackish water and others of fresh water.
The volcanic nature of these places has also given birth to the Stufe di Nerone, a system of ancient Roman baths in Baia, a hamlet of Bacoli. As early as the 2nd century AD they were known as an ideal place to relax and recover, as evidenced by the motto of the baths: “Qui se ipsum amat in hunc locum venit” (Those who love themselves come to this place). Even today it is possible to enjoy this charming place, indulging in a weekend of relaxation and getting away from the daily stress.
Tips for Greek and Roman Mythology enthusiasts
The Phlegraean Fields Regional Park is a must for all the lovers of Greek and Roman history and mythology. In fact, among the most suggestive places to visit we find the Lake Avernus, a place mentioned in the Odyssey as an entrance to the underworld. The area of the Phlegraean Fields was also considered by the inhabitants of the Magna Graecia as the burial place of the Giants defeated by Hercules; this was indeed a fascinating way to try to give an explanation to the intense volcanic and seismic activity that has always dominated these places.
In addition, inside the Phlegraean Fields Regional Park we can admire the archaeological excavations of Cuma, and therefore also the Sibyl’s Cave, an artificial tunnel believed to be the place where the Cumaean Sibyl (priestess of the god Apollo) lived and spread her oracles.
This place is also the setting of one of the most fascinating scenes of the film Indivisible by Edoardo De Angelis, winner of 6 David di Donatello Awards.
The residences of the sovereigns in the Phlegraean Fields Regional Park
The area currently included in the Phlegraean Fields Regional Park has been chosen for centuries by princes and sovereigns as a residence or leisure destination. This is witnessed, for example, by the Aragonese Castle of Baia, built on a promontory overlooking the sea and born as a fortress intended to protect the coasts from Turkish and Saracen incursions. At present, the Aragonese Castle houses the Archaeological Museum of the Phlegraean Fields, full of archaeological finds discovered in this area, as well as offering a breathtaking view of the sea (protected as a marine reserve and also belonging to the Phlegraean Fields Regional Park).
Another example is the Casina Vanvitelliana, built on an islet on Lake Fusaro, near Bacoli. The building was founded in 1782 as a hunting lodge for King Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies, and over the centuries it has been visited by many illustrious guests, depicted in portraits now hung on the walls of the Casina: among others we remember the Russian emperor Nicholas I, the composers Gioacchino Rossini and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and the second President of the Italian Republic Luigi Einaudi.