Snorkeling the Underwater Archaeological Park of Baia!
After waking up during the middle of the night to thunder and pouring rain, I thought without a doubt this excursion would be cancelled in the morning. It was already set to be rainy and dreary all day, but when I heard the storms coming through I thought, “no way is this happening.” Well, what do you know.. Aside from a little wind at first, not only was it warm, but it was partly cloudy and a perfect day for snorkeling in the Gulf of Naples! We arrived a little early to find parking, eat a small snack lunch, and walk up and down the waterfront. This quiet seaside town is mixed with ancient remains and coastal Italian buildings. Afterwards, we grabbed some delicious fried street food and seafood in a cup. Surprisingly cheap, fresh, and very filling (we never would have the guts to buy seafood from a truck in the States!).
The locals call this area “Campi Flegrei,” or burning fields. It is a place that I find both utterly fascinating and quite a bit terrifying. This geographical area holds more than 40 volcanoes and is much more of a threat than Mount Vesuvius. Here is where you can find Baia. An ancient Roman town situated in the Gulf of Naples that was once an area for the rich and powerful, Baia was full of villas and was once quite the party life for the elite. It now lies underwater due to bradyseism (the gradual uplift or descent of part of the Earth’s surface caused by the filling or emptying of an underground magma chamber). Crumbling remains of the city are still visible. Imperial baths, walls, ancient roads, portals, statues, and marble and mosaic floors have all been discovered.
There are 7 underwater sites, ranging from 5 to 13 meters deep, suitable for both snorkeling and scuba diving. We went snorkeling with Subaia on two of these archaeological sites: Emperor Claudio’s Nymphaeum, including a thermal area and two ancient roadways- Via Herculanea and Via Piccola; and Villa with Protyrum entrance, which included a garden, theater, another thermal bath, and mosaics. The first excursion was extremely choppy and windy, so the water visibility was very low to none. We did manage to catch a glimpse of some statues gleaming in the sunlight from time to time! The second excursion was much more clear and calm. The divers cleared the sand away from the mosaic floors for us to observe from above and then covered them again as we left to keep them preserved.
Our roots will forever be from here, America, born and raised. Yet, life requires us to move more frequently than we care to count. Whether living stateside or abroad, you can always find us traveling somewhere. We scout out places that you only think you can dream of one day seeing and we seek out those that aren’t found in guidebooks. We then bring them to life here in our travel memos, so hopefully, one day you too can visit them or at least be able to live vicariously through us. This blog isn’t just about crossing off places from a bucket list. It’s about absorbing and learning how other cultures grow and fit into the same world that we do. Life is short and the world is big. Enjoy and get out there!