The Solfatara

A live volcanic crater filled with steaming, bubbling, sulfurous volcanic attractions...and a campground?

Visiting the smoking crater of Solfatara volcano near Naples
Visiting the smoking crater of Solfatara volcano
Just a 20-minute walk above Pozzuoli is the most active evidence of the volcanism that plagues this region, the elliptical caldera of the Volcano of Solfatara (tel. +39-081-526-2341, www.solfatara.it).

The Solfatara Caldera

Though it hasn't actually erupted since AD 1198, the parched, alien landscape of bubbling mud pits and fumaroles furiously venting 320°F steam rife with the stench of sulfur remind intrepid visitors that molten lava still runs just under the ground surface here (which is always unseasonably warm).

Sulphur and other gases create weird colors at SolfataraAn array of monitoring stations and frequent samples of the gases are taken to try and keep track of what's going on under the surface, the scientists nervously keeping an eye out for signs of increased volcanic activity.

This has been a roadside attraction near Naples since at least the times of the Roman historian Strabo (66BC to AD 24), who described a visit here.

Even its modern incarnation as a tourism site has been going strong since 1900—though you can no longer bathe in the burbling mud pits, mineral springs, or have a sweat in the grottoes, as did everyone from the ancients to the Crusaders to the Grand Tourists of the 18th and 19th centuries..

A guide will take you around the site. They sometimes hold a lighter to one of the vents issuing poisonous gasses to prove how flammable the whole place is.

The Solfatara site is open daily 8:30am to 7pm (to 4:30pm Nov–Mar). (Adm)

The Campsite—Good for snacks or an odd, smelly overnight stay

The campground inside Solfatara volcanoIf you can stand the latent smell of sulphur, and have faith in the kindness of the volcano gods, you may even want to spend the night sleeping directly on top of this glowering volcanic field at Camping Solfatara (tel. +39-081-526-7413; www.solfatara.it/camping), one of the most oddly-sited campgrounds in Europe.

It sits inside the volcano itself, in a shady, tree-filled, WiFi– and swimming pool–equipped corner of the Solfatara (the campground's little grocery and restaurant serving park visitors as well as tent-toting guests).

The campground features tent sites, camper sites, and bungalows; it's open year-round.

Monte Nuovo

Earthquakes have regularly shaken the region, and on the coast between Pozzuoli and Baia. During an eruption in 1538, the 462-foot Monte Nuovo grew overnight (the night of Sept 29–30, to be exact), forming the youngest mountain in Europe—and swallowing the nearby lakeside village of Tripergole into oblivion.

Monte Nuovo is now protected as a natural oasis (tel. +39-081-804-1462, www.oasimontenuovo.it). Admission is free and it is open Mon–Sat 9am to one hour before sunset, Sun 9am–1pm.

Tips & links

Details

Volcano of Solfatara
Via Solfatara 161, Pozzuoli
tel. +39-081-526-2341
www.solfatara.it
Adm


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

Tours to the Phlagrean Fields from Naples
How to get to the Solfatara

Solfatara is just a 20-minute hike up the hill from Pozzuoli. To save yourself the sweat and trouble, you can take Naples city bus no. 152—from Piazza Garibaldi in Naples; from Via Roma in Pozzuoli(tel. +39-081-763-2177, www.anm.it)—or the CPT bus no. P9 from Pozzuoli's Metro station (tel. +39-081-526-5321, www.ctpn.it).

For tickets, you can get a Unico Napoli ticket for €3.10 that lasts all day and covers pretty much all of this region—or get the Artecard sightseeing pass, detailed below.

Or you can take a taxi from Pozzuoli (tel. +39-081-526-5800). (» more on getting around Campi Flegrei.)

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: www.campaniartecard.it.

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Details

Volcano of Solfatara
Via Solfatara 161, Pozzuoli
tel. +39-081-526-2341
www.solfatara.it
Adm


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


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