Pozzuoli Tourist Attractions
West of Naples, over the Posillipo, is Pozzuoli (28m/92ft; pop. 71,000), a port situated on the slopes of a tufa ridge projecting into the sea, on the edge of the area of volcanic hills known as the Phlegraean Fields. Founded in the sixth century B.C. by Greeks from Samos, it passed in the hands of the Romans in 318 B.C. and as Puteoli developed into the principal Italian port for trade with Egypt and the East. In the old town, which is situated on a peninsula, is the cathedral of San Procolo (destroyed by fire in 1964; not open to the public), which was built on the site of a temple of the third-second century B.C. and has ancient columns. It contains the tomb of the composer Pergolesi (1710-36).
500m/550yd north of the tomb of Pergolesi, on the sea, is the so-called Serapeum, an ancient market (macellum), which preserves some columns of its colonnade. Southwest of the Serapeum are baths. In the harbor to the northwest remains of a temple with 14 columns and a sculptor's workshop were discovered on the sea-bed. Above the old town, on the left of the road to Naples, is the Roman Amphitheater (149m/164yd long, 116m/127yd across; seating for 40,000). Particularly impressive are the underground passages which housed the machinery and the wild beasts' dens.
1.5km/1mile east of the Serapeum, near the road from Naples, is the entrance to the Solfatara, a semi-extinct volcano (only recorded eruption 1198). This is a circular area enclosed by tufa hills, with numerous fissures which emit steam and sulfurous gases. The ground sounds hollow. The temperature of the largest fumarole is 162 °C/324 °F, of the smaller ones around 100 °C/212 °F. The volume of vapor is considerably increased if a piece of burning paper or a torch is held at the mouth of one of the vents.
Six km/4 mi west of Pozzuoli is Baia (pop. 6,000), prettily situated on the west side of the Bay of Pozzuoli. As Baiae this was the most fashionable watering-place of Imperial Rome, and impressive palaces dating from this period have been excavated. At the near end of the town, to the right of the road, is the so-called Temple of Mercury, a large circular building with a vaulted roof open in the center, adjoining which are the Baths of Mercury. Farther on, to the right, are the Baths of Sosandra, with the semicircular Theater of the Nymphs and a statue of Sosandra. Immediately west are the Baths of Venus, opposite the so-called Temple of Venus.
Two km/1.25 mi southeast of Baia along the west side of the Bay of Pozzuoli (on the left the 16th century Castello di Baia) we come to Bacoli (pop. 25,000). On a tongue of land 500m/550yd east is a two-story Roman structure known as the Cento Camerelle, the upper story of which was a cistern.
Bacoli - Piscina Mirabilis
500m/550yd south of Bacoli, above the Mare Morte, is the Piscina Mirabilis, an excellently preserved Roman reservoir 70m/77yd long by 25.5m/28yd wide, with a vaulted roof borne on 48 massive pillars.
From the village of Miseno it is a half hour's climb to the top of Monte Miseno (167m/551ft), a curiously shaped crater rising out of the sea, described by Virgil as the tomb of Aeneas's trumpeter Misenus, from which there is one of the finest views of the Bay of Naples and Gaeta.
There are also very fine views from Capo Miseno (79m/261ft), half an hour south. Near here was Lucullus's villa, in which the Emperor Tiberius died.