Choose from 4 Fun Things to Do in Campania
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In the city of Pozzuoli, just outside Naples, sits the ruins of an ancient Roman market - the Macellum of Pozzuoli - in what is the larger Phlegraean Fields Regional Park.
The market structure was likely built between the 1st and 2nd centuries AD, and was excavated in the 18th century. At that time, a statue of the Greek god Serapis was found among the ruins, so some believed the building to have been a temple. Though it was later determined to be a marketplace, the name Temple of Serapis is also often used to describe the ruins.
Many of the Phlegraean Fields ruins are underwater due to the volcanic shifts in the area over the centuries, and the Macellum was no exception. While there are columns rising high above the modern street level, the ground level of the market itself is well below sea level. The columns show evidence of shellfish, as they were once underwater, too.
The ground level continues to move up and down very slowly, because the market is located near the middle of the volcanic caldera that makes up the epicenter of the Phlegraean Fields. Visitors today won’t notice the shift in ground level, though geologists track the site constantly.
Your admission ticket to visit the Macellum of Pozzuoli also includes entry to Pozzuoli’s arena - the Flavian Amphitheater. It’s Italy’s third-largest amphitheater, and dates from the 1st century AD.
Address: Via Serapide, Pozzuoli, Campania 80078, Italy
Hours: Wed-Mon 9am until one hour before sunset
Admission: €2.50 (free with ArteCard)
From $ 75
Solfatara is a shallow volcanic crater at Pozzuoli, not far from Naples. Likely the most interesting of the 40 or more volcanoes that comprise the Campi Flegrei volcanic area, the Solfarata first formed about 4,000 years ago and last erupted in 1198. While dormant today, it still emits jets of steam with sulfurous fumes. Solfatara’s thermal waters were once believed to cure a variety of medical ailments and the crater was once home to a volcanological observatory, built in the year 900 by a German volcanologist. Ruins of the observatory can still be seen today.
Solfatara is now a popular tourist attraction with two unique phenomena to witness: the condensation of steam and the rumble of the ground when a rock is dropped just right. A walk around the crater floor takes you past the main fumarole known as Bocca Grande and the mud pit known as the Fangaia, as well as a variety of other fumaroles, mofettes and typical Mediterranean vegetation.
Solfatara is accessible by train from Naples, getting off at the Pozzuoil-Solfatara station. It can also be reached by bus taking line M1 B of the Public Transport Company from Naples to the main entrance of Solfatara.At the site, amenities include a coffee bar, bookshop, and a playground for the kids.
Address: Via Solfatara 161, Pozzuoli, Italy
Admission: 7 Euro
From $ 46
The Royal Palace of Caserta, famous for its massive size and opulent style, is a triumph of late Italian Baroque architecture. The largest royal residence in the world, the palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, shares a number of features with the Palace of Versailles and is one of the most-visited monuments in southern Italy.
The 18th-century Royal Palace (Reggia di Caserta) was built by the architect Luigi Vanvitelli for the Bourbon kings of Naples. It sits majestically on a hill overlooking its 300 acres of undulating grounds, including ornate fountains and water features and the English Garden, one of the most important botanical gardens in Europe. The palace, inspired by Versailles in France and similarly opulent structures in Madrid, includes 1,200 rooms on five floors, including royal apartments, the Throne Room, the Palatine Chapel, and the Grand Staircase, all sumptuously decorated with frescoes, marble, and gold leaf. The Royal Palace and park are among the most popular attractions in the region of Campania; the best way to fully appreciate its architecture and history is by taking a private guided tour of the palace and its beautiful gardens.
Things to Know Before You Go
- As one of the largest palaces in the world, visiting the Reggia di Caserta is a mammoth undertaking. You’ll be spending most of the day on your feet, so be sure to wear comfortable shoes and clothing.
- If you don’t want to tour the grounds on foot, you can rent a bike, take the bus, or opt for a horse-drawn carriage ride.
- The palace and grounds are wheelchair-accessible.
Star Wars fans may recognize the palace as the setting for scenes from Episode I and Episode II.
How to Get There
The palace is located in Caserta, just north of Naples—it’s an easy day trip from Naples, Sorrento, the Amalfi Coast, or Rome. (Exit the Autostrada A1 at Caserta Nord.) You can also take the train right to Caserta.
When to Get There
The Reggia di Caserta is open 8am to 7:30pm daily, except for Tuesdays. The grounds close earlier in winter. The English Garden is open for guided tours more or less hourly (10am to 4:30pm daily).
The grounds of the royal palace also house the historic San Leucio silk factory; today it’s the Silk Museum, with original looms and historic machinery on display.
Address: Viale Douhet, 2/a, Caserta CE 81100, Italy
From $ 19
Just south of the Amalfi Coast, the seaside town of Salerno is home to the magnificent 11th-century Cathedral of Saint Matthew—one of the most beautiful medieval churches in Italy, with an ornate baroque crypt containing the remains of the Apostle Matthew. It’s an easy day trip from Sorrento, Positano, or Amalfi.
The Salerno Cathedral (Duomo di Salerno or Cattedrale di San Matteo) was built during the Norman period and has a somewhat plain exterior that belies the beauty of its 17th-century crypt inside, with rich marble floors, exquisite frescoes, and elaborate gold mosaics forming a lavish backdrop for the relics of Saint Matthew. The basilica is home to precious artworks—12th-century mosaics, massive bronze doors, and the tomb of Pope Gregory VII, leader of the Holy Roman Empire who died in exile in Salerno in 1085—and is known for its 12th-century bell tower.
Salerno is an ideal excursion from Sorrento, Amalfi, Positano, and Naples; a stop at the Cathedral is a highlight of guided tours through the narrow streets of Salerno's old town. You can also combine a visit to Salerno with day tour of Paestum, about an hour south.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Conservative clothing is required in the cathedral; shorts and tank tops are strictly prohibited.
- Tours of the center of Salerno require some walking, so wear comfortable shoes.
- The cathedral is accessible to wheelchairs and strollers.
- Photography without flash is allowed inside the cathedral.
How to Get There
The Salerno Cathedral is located on Piazza Alfano I in the center of Salerno; it’s accessible by bus and train running from a number of locations throughout Campania. To avoid the hassle of public transportation, however, consider joining an organized tour that includes Salerno and Paestum.
When to Get There
Salerno is significantly less touristy than the nearby Amalfi Coast; in summer, you might consider it a welcome break from the crowds.
The Chapel of the Treasures of St. Matthew
The Salerno Cathedral’s beautiful 16th-century Chapel of the Treasures of St. Matthew (Cappella del Tesoro di San Matteo), is open to visitors on the 21st day of each month. If you time your visit right, you can view the Gothic relics, silver statues, and other precious artifacts inside.
Address: Piazza Alfano I, Salerno, Italy
From $ 49