Down In Depth Experience - Baia the city underwater

The Bay of Naples is a unique melting pot of history, archaeology, mythology, geology and volcanic life, perfectly emblematised by the Baia Underwater Archaeology Park.

The park is home to the sunken city of Baia; an ancient Roman city that was completely submerged by bradyseism activity, a phenomenon typical of the volcanic area of the ‘Phlegraean fields’ in which the city was built.

The underwater engulfment left the city virtually untouched, transforming it a great testament to the wonders of the Roman era in the Neapolitan region.

At the height of its glory, the Classical Roman city of Baia was a honeypot for the ‘rich and glamourous’ of its time, who found hedonistic refuge in its natural beauty and the healing powers of its hot springs.

Personalities like the emperors Caesar and Nero built luxurious holiday villas in this spa resort to escape the hustle and bustle of urban life.

This maritime marvel is one of the world’s very few underwater parks and provides for a great day out to merge archaeology with a swim or a dive.

Some of the key diving sites include the Villa a Protiro, a luxurious villa with beautiful mosaic flooring, and Ninfeo di Claudio, a cluster of Roman baths, pavement and Emperor Claudius’ ‘Nymphaeum’, or relaxation chambers. The marble statues that decorated the Nymphaeum can be found in the Baia Museum, along with other remains uncovered from the depths of the waters.

Those who don't want to get wet can still visit Baia with a glass-bottomed boat. Individuals can go on tours on weekends, but booking in advance in a must. (www.baiasommersa.it - 10 euro per person)

Where to get your diving gear

The diving centre Campi Flegrei offers everything you need from equipment to diving courses to guided diving tours, in addition to fully-serviced beach front facilities such as showers, changing rooms, bars, sun decks and more.

For some extra scuba diving, the centre also organises tours around the Phlegraean islands of Ischia and Procida, where you can discover more underwater archaeological wonders.

A half-day excursion (8.30am-1pm) with one dive costs €30, and a full day (8.30am-5pm) with two dives and lunch on board is €60. Equipment can also be rented at €15

www.centrosubcampiflegrei.it 

 

01 01 baia

01 02 baia

 

Sibyl’s cave and Lake Avernus

A 20 minutes’ walk away from the diving centre takes you from a lost utopia to the Gates of Hades or so it was thought of Lake Avernus by Homer and Virgil in their poems. The name also means ''without bird'' as it was thought that the smell of brimstone rising from the lake was so poisonous that birds would not fly over it.

Sibyl’s cave is a tunnelled grotto complex that was the legendary home of the Sibyl of Cumae, the most famous oracles in Greek mythology residing at Cumae, the first Greek settlement in mainland Italy.

The Cumaean Sibyl was the prophetess in Virgil’s famous Aeneid who predicted the great future of Rome, and the important role of Aeneas, a Trojan hero, in shaping it.

It was from Sibyl’s cave that Aeneas, guided by the prophetess, would make his descent to Hades and seek his dead father’s help in accomplishing his destiny.

Lake Avernus

Archaeological Park Cumae