Long before climate change got us talking about submerged cities, the area around Naples played host to the ancient aristocracy. Nicknamed “Little Rome,” the sublime Bay of Naples was a favorite attraction, much like today, and a place where Emperors, Senators and courtiers made their summer seaside villas.
The area was ‘connected’ to the sea by way of an artificial canal. From Julius Caesar to Cicero, Nero to Hadrian, it was the place to be. Alas, the sea would reclaim its coastline as early as the 4th century. But buried in their watery grave, we are now able to enjoy this astounding park and its artworks now housed in the museum above ground.
At the start of this millennium, the Underwater Archeological Park in Baia (the Italian word for ‘Bay’) became a site for a new kind of tourism: underwater exploration. Situated in the Campi Flegrei area of Naples, the sea offers up its incredible treasures to those intrepid souls who want to venture into the deep.
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The underwater park is part of the Archeological Park of the Thermal Baths, an incredible place to see the ruins once situated on the ancient Bainus Iacus. The Archeological Museum located in the Aragonese Castle of Baia (in Campi Flegrei) is filled with many of the statues that decorated the drowned ruins below.
One of the villas belonged to a certain Gaio Calpurino Pistone – we know this from his name imprinted on some lead piping there. He had taken part in a conspiracy to overthrow Nero, his villa expropriated once the Emperor caught wind of the plot. Near his villa, submerged in water, are the mosaic floors of – an appropriate – nympheum, one of the most popular sites to visit with your snorkels or scuba gear.