The Phlegrean Fields

The Roman ruins (Pozzuoli, Baia, Cuma), volcanic craters (Solfatara), and myth-soaked ancient sites (Cave of the Cumean Sybil and Lago di Averno) of the Campi Flegrei west of Naples

Though the crowds flock to the Amalfi Coast, Capri, and Pompeii east and south of Naples, for my money the Campi Flegrei (Phlegrean Fields) spreading west of the city make for the the perfect day trip from Naples.

It has pretty much all the typical Campanian sights as the more famous side of the bay, including fishing towns, grumbling volcanoes, ancient ruins, and myth-soaked sites—though admittedly on a much smaller scale, and not nearly as spectacular.

But the upside to this is that it suffers perhaps 1% the number of visitors as those storied sights across the bay. While the hordes are packing the streets of Pompeii, cafes of Capri, and crinkly coastal drive down the Amalfi Coast so tightly you can barely move—in high season, this is not some literary exaggeration but the literal truth—you can often have the ancient sights and fishing towns of the Campi Flegrei all to yourself.

A day in the Campi Flegrei

The Anfiteatro Flavio at Pozzuoli, third largest in Italy
The Flavian Amphitheater at Pozzuoli, third largest in Italy.
The Phlegrean Fields are also insanely easy to explore on public transportation. Just take the metro from Naples to Pozzuoli, Sophia Loren's hometown, where you can see an ancient Roman amphitheater (» more). Then catch the local bus up the hill to wander around the caldera of the active Solfatara volcano—still venting gasses and steam, the ground hot to the touch, yet somehow creepily tamed, with a campground in the middle of it and everything. (» more)

Ride the bus back down to the center of Pozzuoli where you take an early lunch overlooking the Temple of Serapide on the main square, broken columns that slowly rise and fall along with the surrounding landscape (You don't see it actually happening; it moves on the scale of decades, but you can see the effects).

the cave of the Cumaean Sibyl at Cuma
The ancient cave of the Cumean Sibyl oracle at Cuma.
After lunch, walk to the Cumana rail station and take the train to Baia, a town scattered with archaeological ruins and a fine little museum (» more), then grab the bus to Cuma.

In late afternoon, when the light shines best through the rock windows of the ancient keyhole-shaped gallery, consult the Cumean Sybil in her cave—one of the foremost soothsayers in ancient times—then climb to the top of the hill for a late afternoon panorama of the bay. (» more)

Grab the bus from Cuma back to Pozzuoli, which will pass under the AD 1st-century brick Arco Felice mountain pass, then on the left the round Lago d'Averno, the lake that was the gateway to the underworld where Aeneas descended to confront Hades.

From Pozzuoli, take the Naples city bus or metro back into Naples for dinner.

The sights of the Campi Flegrei

  • Pozzuoli (awesome Roman amphitheater, interesting Roman temple)
  • Solfatara (live volcanic crater; cool campground)
  • Baia (nice ruins, good archeological museum)
  • Cuma (creepy Cave of the Cumean Sybil; small archeological museum)
  • Lago d'Averno (small lake—happens to be famous gateway to Hell)

Tips & links


Campi Flegrei Tourist Info:
Largo Matteotti 1A, Pozzuoli
tel. +39-081-526-6639

How to get to and around Pozzuoli and the Campi Flegrei:

To get to the following towns and sites, you'll need to use a combination of Naples Metro; the private Cumana rail line (tel. +39-081-551-3328, that leaves Naples every 10 minutes to skirt the shore west of Naples all the way to Torregavetta (its station in Naples is near the Montesanto Metro stop); and the three bus companies that service the region, Naples ANM city buses (tel. +39-081-763-2177,, and regional lines CTP buses (tel. +39-081-526-5321, and SEPSA buses (tel. +39-081-735-4965; There's also information on various forms of public transportation on the website: TICKETS: Luckily, you can get a Unico Napoli ticket for €3.10 that lasts all day and covers pretty much all of this region (of get the Artecard sightseeing pass, detailed below).

Pozzuoli is 20 to 40 minutes from Naples, depending on where in Naples you're starting and which form of transport you take. The Cumana suburban train runs from the Montesanto station in Naples to Pozzuoli, where its station is down in the heart of town near the Temple of Serapide (~20 min). Naples Metro line 2 stops in Pozzuoli at a station near the top of town, just up Via Solfatara from the Amphitheater (~30 min). Naples city bus no. 152 runs from Piazza Garibaldi, stopping at Solfatara before rolling into Pozzuoli, where it stops on Via Solfatara (near the Amphitheater) and ends on Via Roma, in front of the Temple of Serapide (~40 min).

To get to Solfatara, take city bus no. 152—from Piazza Garibaldi in Naples; from Via Roma in Pozzuoli—or the CPT bus no. P9 from Pozzuoli's Metro station.

To get to Baia, take the the Cumana suburban rail line from Pozzuoli or the SEPSA bus from Cuma.

To get to Cuma, take the CTP bus no. P12 from Via Roma in Pozzuoli, or the SEPSA bus from Baia. Both let you off near the site entrance.

Note 1:
The decrepit "Circumflegrea" rail line that runs inland around the Campi Flegrei from Naples Montesanto—forming the northern half of a shaky rail circle around the area (the Cumana rail line forms the southern, coastal half)—in some years does not even stop at the Cuma station, and at any rate the station is a long, long walk from the main site entrance (and the site entrance nearest the station is open only at 10:15am and again at 12:15am, open again as an exit only at 12:15pm and 2:15pm). Crazy. My advice: Just use the buses.

Note 2: For several years, SEPSA ( ran a convenient Archeobus service that went around to nearly everything in the Campi Flegrei. Sadly, they seem to have suspended it—though you'll still see signs and stops for it. Check their website, though; you never know.

If you want a taxi in Pozzuoli
If you want a taxi in Pozzuoli, call tel. +39-081-526-5800.
Get the Campania Artecard

There are two versions of the Campania sightseeing pass that covers this area: Napoli e Campi Flegrei (€16 for three days; 3 sights free, the rest half-off; and all public transport) and Archeologia del Golfo (€30 for 3 days; all sights—including all the ones here [except Solfatara], plus Pompeii, Herculaneum, the Naples Archaeological Museum, and more; and all public transport). Since the sights of the Campi Flegrei are all covered on a single, €4 ticket (except privately-run Solfatara, which costs another €6), if you get that first pass I'd actually use the 3 freebies for pricier marquee sights in Naples—but you still get 50% off your Phlegrean Fields ticket, plus that invaluable free bus/Metro pass. For details:

Tours of Phlagrean Fields
Useful links & resources

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Campi Flegrei Tourist Info:
Largo Matteotti 1A, Pozzuoli
tel. +39-081-526-6639

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