Whoever is fond of sea, myth, history and nature will find Bacoli a great destination. The current city is fruit of the urban redevelopment that happened during second half of the XX century and, if you come and visit this lovely place, you will understand why stunning villas rich in marble and beautiful mosaics were built here. A unique experience accompanied with the intense scent of sea, tasty local dishes and authentic flavors. A real emotion that becomes pleasure, tradition and beauty.
Situated on the very northern tip of the Bay of Naples, this small fishing village, despite its proximity to Naples and surrounding tourist hotspots, retains a rustic charm. It is also home to the Terme Stufe di Nerone, ancient thermal baths originally built by the romans. It feels like they’ve hardly been touched since then, avoiding major moderations that has touched so many other spa centres in the area.
The hypothermal waters at the spa centre emerge at a high 74°C making it ideal for skin renewal. Elsewhere 2 separate bathing pools cater for various needs, with temperatures from 38 to 58°C. A natural sauna, heated by the thermal waters, creates a perfect environment for curing respiratory problems and water replacement.
Bacoli has Roman origins; it was founded with the name of Bauli as holiday resort. Symmachus said about Bauli: “I left that place because there was the risk that if I got too fond of Bauli, I would not have liked all the other places that I still had to see”.
Following the collapse of the Roman Empire, Bacoli declined, too due to some geological phenomena such as bradyseism and erosions. The city revived throughout the centuries and little by little became a renowned tourist destination.
The commune of Bacoli is located to the south-west on the Gulf of Pozzuoli and is well-known for the ancient port, villas and spas of Baia, an imperial residence in Roman times. Today a fishermen’s borough, was a Roman town with the name of Bauli.
The area of the municipality of Bacoli is of volcanic origin. It belongs to the system of Campi Flegrei and was formed last eruptive phase called “Third Period Flegreo”. In particular the area where there is the town is characterized by an array of seven volcanoes, arranged on a single axis, formed by craters and the remains of craters of three of the oldest volcanoes which date between 35,000 and 10,500 years ago: 1) Cape Miseno; 2) Port of Miseno (whose edges are recognizable residues long islet of Punta Pennata and in front of it in the two peaks of Punta Theron and Punta della Sarparella); 3) the prominence that characterizes the historical center of Bacoli, from Punta del Poggio and swimming Mirabile until Centocamerelle.
To the north, outside the town, a little ‘spaced from the previous but still on the same array, we have the other four volcanoes, the most recent, which date from between 10,500 and 8,000 years ago: 4) and 5) the two craters called Funds Bay (on the brink of one of which is placed the Aragonese Castle of Baia and goes up the road that leads from Pozzuoli to Bacoli); 6) the Gulf of Bay that has almost completely dismantled 7), another volcano whose edges and reliefs residues are recognized in Punta Epitaph and the rocky ridge of yellow tuff that looks toward Lucrino.
Bacoli was founded by the Romans who called it by the name of Trunks. In Roman times it was a popular resort almost as much as the nearby Bay. Symmachus told Trunks: “I left that place because there was a danger that if I had to stay too fond of Trunks, aII other places that I have left to do I would have liked” (Symmachus).
Ancient trunks are preserved to this day the remains of the Hundred Chambers, the Piscina Mirabile, the so-called Tomb of Agrippina. Augustan age Bacoli actually became the main military outpost and capital elective politics, culture and social life along with the nearby Baiae.
Following the fall of the Roman Empire the city of Bacoli also declined due to some geological phenomena like bradyseism and erosions. In the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the city was reborn and became a favorite destination for Europeans.
The current town includes over today’s Bacoli, even the remains of trunks, the ancient Roman cities of Baia (whose remains extend to Fusaro), and still Miseno with the adjoining Miliscola (from militum choir) seat of the praetorian fleet of the Roman emperors, and finally even a small portion of the ancient Greek city of Cuma.
Baiae (today Baia) was a fashionable and luxurious coastal resort, especially towards the end of the period of the Roman Republic and throughout the Empire, even more popular than Pompeii, Naples, and Capri. Famous for its medicinal warm sulfur springs, purple oysters, and mild climate, it was an ideal retreat from the heat of Rome, and many prominent Romans had villas in the area. It was at his villa near Baiae that the Emperor Hadrian died in 138 AD.
Baiae was also the location for a spectacular stunt (in AD 37) by Caligula, who on becoming Emperor ordered a temporary floating bridge to be built using ships as pontoons, stretching for over two miles from the town of Baiae to the neighboring port of Puteoli (Pozzuoli), across which he proceeded to ride his horse, to challenge an astrologer’s prediction that he had “no more chance of becoming Emperor than of riding a horse across the Gulf of Baiae”.
Several very interesting places to explore and visit while in Bacoli include: (1) Agrippina’s Sepulchre , a Roman monument that traditionally was considered to be the tomb of Nero’s mother, but was most probably the “odeion” of a Villa; (2) Cento Camerelle, water cisterns belonging to a Roman Villa of the Republican times; (3) Piscina Mirabilis, among the biggest Roman water reservoir structures, could store 12,600 cubic meters, situated on a promontory facing Capo Miseno; and (4) Baia an archeological park including villas, spas and the Roman port.
If you are a fan of Roman history and make a trip to Bacoli, don’t miss the Piscina Mirabilis. It is not a very popular tourist spot, but since I am a history, anthropologic and architecture fanatic, it’s high on my places to visit. One of the largest cisterns built in the Augustan period; this is not your plain cistern to store rainwater. This was the termination point of Aqua Augusta, the massive Roman aqueduct which supplied water to many Roman cities in the Bay of Naples.
Since it is under private ownership now, you need to make an appointment by phone before you can explore this underground architectural marvel of Italy.
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