All posts for the month November, 2012

Phlegraean Fields

Published November 24, 2012 by Tony


Phlegraean Fields

The “Campi Flegrei” (Phlegraean Fields), is a large area of volcanic north-west of the city of Naples, like a peninsula. The word “flegrei” comes from the greek Flego which means “burn”. In the area are still recognizable least twenty-four between craters and volcanic structures, some of which have effusive gaseous manifestations (area of ​​Solfatara) or hydrothermal (Agnano, Pozzuoli, Lucrino) and are due to the phenomenon of bradyseism (very recognizable for its size in the past the so-called temple of Serapis at Pozzuoli). Geologically the area of the Phlegraean Fields caldera is a large quiescent with a diameter of 12-15 km in the main part, where there are numerous craters, small volcanic structures and volcanism areas subject to a secondary (fumaroles, hot springs , bradyseism …). Throughout the area are important visible deposits of volcanic origin as the Campanian Grey Tuff (or Ignimbrite Campana) or Yellow Tuff. In the area there are lakes of volcanic origin (Lago d’Averno), and lakes originated for dam (Lake Fusaro, Lake Lucrino and Lake Miseno).

Phlegraean Fields, lake Fusaro

Cuma and Baia are two archaeological sites in the province of Naples, Pozzuoli near the territory of which it is part, located in the volcanic area of Campi Flegrei.
In principle, Cuma is thought to have been founded around 740 BC, although the earliest archaeological evidence dates back to 725-720 BC
According to legend, the founders of Cuma was the Eubei of Chalcis under the guidance of Ippocle of Cuma and Megasthenes of Chalcis.
The city of Cuma was entirely directed toward the Acropolis, the highest part of every Greek city, situated in a very favorable geographical position, that is, on a hill near the sea.

In addition to the “Sybil Cave”, mentioned in the previous post, at Cumae, you can see:
Lake D’Averno, Grotto of Cocceius, the Temple of Zeus, the Temple of Apollo, the Roman Crypt, the Temple of Serapis or Macellum, The Forum with the Forum Baths and the Capitol, Arco Felice (Felix Arch).


lake averno

The lake takes its name from a deep, dark pit (currently unidentified) in its proximity and emanating sulphurous vapors, which, according to Greek and Roman religion, was access Netherworld, the realm of the god Pluto. For this reason the Roman underworld (Hades greek) are also called Hades.
In fact, even the poet Virgil in the sixth book of the Aeneid are close to the lake entrance to the mystical underworld where the hero Aeneas must go (scrupea, suit Lacu nigro nemorumque tenebris VI, 238). The name derives from the greek άορνος Avernus (‘no birds’) as the birds flying over the abyss die because of its sulfur fumes.
During the nineteenth century has been the subject of study in particular the optical phenomenon of Fata Morgana.

The lake Avernus is the crater of a volcanic apparatus formed 3,700 years ago in an old crater, the Archiaverno.
To the east of the lake there is a volcanic cone of Monte Nuovo, which was formed after an eruption lasting a few days (from September 29 to October 6, 1538). The crater of Monte Nuovo is visible with a short hike starting from the football field in Arco Felice. From the crater rim you have panoramic views over the bay of Pozzuoli including the islands of Ischia and Procida, west of Lake Averno, north of Mount Gauro and east to Mount Vesuvius.

Grotta di Cocceio

« Ibant obscuri sola sub nocte per umbram…
quale per incertam Lunam sub luce maligna est iter in silvis » (Virgil)

The Grotto of Cocceius (also called the Cave of Peace) is an underground tunnel that connects the lake Avernus with Cumae. The work was designed and built around 37 BC by Lucius Cocceius Aucto commissioned by Vipsanio Agrippa, who wanted the construction for military reasons: it was necessary to connect Cuma, fortification and lookout point on the Domitian coast-flegreo with the Portus Julius, an important military infrastructure located on basins of lake Avernus and the lake Lucrino, that artificial channels designed by the same Cocceius linked to each other and to the Gulf of Pozzuoli.  The tunnel was entirely dug in the tufa for about a mile, with a trapezoidal section and rectilinear, whose western entrance, on the lake, it was preceded by a vestibule adorned with columns and statues, was later destroyed. The gallery received light and air from six wells, dug into the hill, the longest of which was a hundred feet high, and it was large enough to allow the passage of two wagons. Parallel to the tunnel driveway on the north side, ran an underground aqueduct, also with niches and vertical wells, which provided water supply to the port.

The tunnel is also called “Grotta della Pace” (Cave of Peace), because according to a legend of the sixteenth century, a Spanish knight, Peter di Pace, badly advised by magicians and fortune-tellers, he squandered his property in the vain search for a supposed treasure therein buried.
The gallery, fall into oblivion, was restored in the nineteenth century by the Bourbon kings, during the Second World War it was used for storing explosives, and suffered damage when some of the explosives accidentally broke the First World War.

Currently, the cave is not open to visitors, for danger of collapse. The area is actually in a state of neglect and shabby. As always, many antiquities and works of art in Naples, for lack of funds and will, are abandoned to their fate. It would have taken half of the archaeological heritage that Naples has to make another city a highly qualified, researched and publicized city in the world.

Tempio di Apollo

Apollo_temple in Cuma

On the southern side of the terrace to the Temple of Apollo, brought to light in 1912. The terrace is paved all round with tuff and is bounded on the right by a parapet, also of tuff.
A sanctuary had to exist in this place since Vl sec.aC, but his consecration to Apollo is only by inscriptions of the Roman period found there, and perhaps previously was dedicated to Hera.
In front of the temple are the remains of a semicircular exedra perhaps, in Roman times, placed next to a well: facilities to report, probably oracular activity.

Cripta RomanaCocceio cavern

Designed to connect the lower town with the harbor area, the gallery, built during the Augustan age, crossed the acropolis from west to east with a length of m. 180. It was between the works of military buildup of the area has to ensure, together with the so-called cave of Mount Cocceio Grillo, direct communication between the Portus Julius and the port of Cumae.
The lighting of the tunnel was ensured by a series of open wells in time. In the last section on the right, were built two large tanks with steps for filtering water: the vestments, in opus reticulatum, are covered with a thick layer of earthenware to three feet high, two successive cuts made in the bleachers began in communication with the gallery.
In the early Christian period, along the walls of this section were obtained tombs of rectangular shape and of various sizes. At the same period are the graffiti of crosses and simple gammate visible in some parts of the rock, which suggests that the Crypt, as of “Antro della Sibilla”, has been used as a catacomb.
The structure of the eastern end of the Crypta perhaps not the same as the old one: the poor state of preservation and the dense vegetation do not allow their exact reconstruction. However, it appeared, probably, a richly decorated marble, fragments of which were found at the exit.

Tempio di Serapide

An unique volcanic phenomenon raises and lowers from centuries this majestic building, bringing the water above and below the massive columns. The large building is one of the best examples of macellum, the food market, built between the late first and early second century. The building is square in plan, with a central courtyard surrounded on all sides by arcades, paved with marble and lined with 30 granite columns. Around the courtyard are the shops, according to the typical pattern of the markets of the Roman world. There must have been a higher level, as evidenced by a scale in the southern corner.

The temple of Serapis has certainly been an important spa antiquity (as evidenced by some historical artifacts), so that the name of the temple in the true sense can be considered improper. During excavations (1750) was found a statue of the Egyptian god Serapis, and therefore was considered a temple.
The structure is built within a rectangular area (75 meters long by 58 meters wide). Its construction is considered by most dating back to Flavian, the signs of subsequent restoration testify the longevity and the intensity of use of this center in Roman times.
Of particular artistic value are also the materials used for the interior of the temple (exceptionally beautiful marbles and mosaics). The apse is semi-dome, the statue of Serapis (deities of trades) is located below it.

Il Foro

The Forum of Cumae is now only partially in the light, as it still buried in the east. Its present appearance dates back to the monumental arrangement he received in the late Republican.
It is a rectangular plaza with EO orientation, similar in size to the holes of Pompeii and Paestum (50×120 m), connected to the surrounding urban fabric by a road system is not perfectly smooth, of which survive today paving and paths. The short side was bounded by West Capitol, here significantly decentralized to the south compared to the canons of the Hellenistic period, that placed the main building of the hole in the center of the bottom side. The Baths of the hole were built in the city center, in the north-west area of ​​the forum, in a space formerly occupied by structures from the Republican period. The building was built during a period of intense construction activity, a few decades after the opening of the street Domitiana (95 AD), typologically recalls the Terme di Via Terracina to Naples and those of the Forum in Ostia. The Capitolium was built during the Samnite period (IV-III century BC.) And perhaps originally consecrated to the worship of Jupiter Flazo in CapitoliumRoman times the temple was dedicated to the Capitoline Triad (Jupiter, Juno and Minerva).
The temple stands on a high podium (m. 56.98 x28, 50) according to use italics: surrounded by a peristyle with the front of six columns, the cell had three naves, preceded by a large porch. The first phase are still visible in the podium by square blocks of Neapolitan yellow tuff, with double molding profile, and on the back of the cell, the floor in earthenware.


Published November 23, 2012 by Tony

Famous places in Naples

First reaction her color became ashen, then were the facial features to transform into hideous mask, and finally the breath, gasping at the beginning and into a mere gasp in the end. Seemed so, as Virgil says, in the fourth canto  of “Aeneid”, one of the most famous and disturbing prophets of antiquity: the Cumaean Sibyl. After Parthenope, myth siren and women, Naples owes its poetic origins also to Virgil, poet and demigod, master of Dante. Publio Virgilio Marone,  in Latin Publius Vergilius Maro, in 42 BC moved to Naples, where he went to the school of philosophers Sirone and Philodemus to learn the precepts of Epicurus, and where he met several important political and artistic figures. The remains of the great poet are kept in a mound still visible on the hill of Posillipo. Unfortunately the urn containing his remains left scattered in the Middle Ages. On the tomb was placed the famous epitaph: “Mantua me genuit, Calabri rapuere, tenet nunc Parthenope; Cecini pascua, rural, duces,” or, “I gave birth to Mantua, Calabria (Puglia) kidnapped me: I now houses Partenope (Naples ) sang the pastures (the Eclogues), fields (the Georgics), the chiefs (the Aeneid) “. The history or the legend say that when Virgil came to Naples, was a young, nice, tall but always walking with his head down, babbling things that people did not understand. Although living in Posillipo, every day he roamed the hills between Baia and Cuma.  At that time, the flies were a big problem for the locals and it is said that Virgil built and gave birth to a gold fly which soon destroyed all the flies that upset the locals. For this he was considered a magician. Another of his miracle was the healing of some fetid swamps Virgil's tomband dangerous that were in the area. The people asked for his help to destroy a snake that sowed terror and victims, and he fearless killed it by his spells. He also healed sick people and animals, and to save the girlfriend of his friend Albino, revealed the mystery of the cave of Cuma, where a time the priests were deceiving people with fake responses produced by a natural sound distortion caused by the echo of the cave.

Sibyls were virgin priestesses devoted to Apollo, known in all the ancient world. The most famous lived in Cuma, a Greek colony built on the Campania coast, then became one of the main religious centres of the Roman Empire.  When the Sybil was Prophesying , she is described like a pale woman, with her breast deflated, her hair standing on end and speaking with an inhuman voice. Thanks to the Sybil, Enea could make the trip in the Hades whose gate was supposed to be in the Lake of Averno n Naples.  The Cuma  temples were  well known in the Greek age. Believers came from every parts of the Mediterranean area to wait for the precious prophesies of the Sybil. She lived in a Cave and wrote her responses on leaves and then she scattered them in the wind so that the believers could hardly interpret them. It is told that one day the sybil went to the last king of Rome, Tarquinio the proud one. She offered him 9 books, called Sybillean Books, where were collected all the Sibyl of Cumaeprophesies about Rome. She asked for 300 golden coins but the king didn’t accept. So the Sybil started to burn the books one at the time. So the books diminished but not their price. Finally Tarquinio accepted to pay but there were only three books left. Made by leaves, they were written in verses and hieroglyphics. They were kept in the Jove Temple on the Campidoglio (one of the seven hills Rome was built on) and were consulted each time the town was in trouble.

The legend says that the Sibyl was a beautiful girl, the daughter of Glaucus,  a fisherman from Boeotia, who like his father was endowed with the ability to predict the future. One day Apollo saw her and fell in love with her and promised to conquer to make a wish. The girl picked up a handful of sand and asked God to live as many years were the grains of sand in her hand. Apollo satisfied her, but the gift was transformed into a prison for her, because longevity does not mean eternal youth, and because of old age and disease, the woman turned into a human larva, whose voice was used by Apollo to communicate with men.

Cuma (Cumae in Latin) is an archaeological site in the province of Naples, near the territory of Pozzuoli, located in the volcanic area of Campi Flegrei.
The name comes from the greek name Κύμη (Kyme), which means “wave”, referring to the shape of the peninsula on which it is located.


The famous cave known as the “Antro della Sibilla” (Sybil cave), was discovered by Amedeo Maiuri (a renowned Neapolitan archaeologist,) in 1932. A nearby tunnel through the acropolis now known as the “Crypta Romana” (part of Agrippa and Octavian’s defenses in the war against Sextus Pompey) was previously identified as the Grotto of the Sibyl. The inner chamber was later used as a burial chamber during the 4th or 5th century AD  by people living at the site. The Sybil’s Cave was one of the most venerated sanctuaries of antiquity, dug, in the oldest part, by the Greeks in the fifth-fourth century. BC, while the terminal environment had to be expanded and transformed into its current form in IV-III century. B.C.
The cave consists of a straight tunnel, the dromos, trapezoidal and without the original entrance. The outer side is divided into six large cracks, also trapezoidal, giving light in the tunnel. On the eastern side it opened a gallery with three rectangular rooms arranged in a cross forming as many tanks supplied by a channel in which is said the Sibyl washed and then, wearing a long robe, went into the inner room, whence by a high throne prophesied.
In the bottom of the gallery opens a rectangular room, with a vaulted higher than the rest and with three large niches, with a vestibule on the left side closed by a gate that leads into a small room divided into three smaller cells: the endotatos and the oikos, the oracle room, the place where the Sibyl uttered the prophecies.

Apollo_temple in Cuma

Some archaeologists have proposed an alternative cave site as the home of the sibyl. A tunnel complex near Baiae (modern Baia) leads to an underground geothermally-heated stream that could be presented to visitors as the river Styx. The layout of the tunnels conforms to the description in the Aeneid of Aeneas’ journey to the underworld and back.

Entrance to the Cave of the Sibyl




Published November 10, 2012 by Tony

I’m really happy that Obama won the election again

Congratulations to you and please go on to pursue your ideas and projects to heal the country’s economy and for equal rights, do not worry about criticism and opponents who only care about their interests. However it will go, you’re writing the history of America and maybe, unluckily,  you’ll be appreciated more in the distant future, as it has happened to many famous historical figures.
Good luck.


Published November 2, 2012 by Tony


Not all Neapolitans know the history of “Munaciello”, especially young people, so I guess that very few of you, living in other countries,  will know it. “O ‘Munaciello” and everything that has to do with supernatural and death are part of the culture and folklore of Naples, especially in the past, when there were many legends around spirits or strange presences.
The Neapolitan “munaciello”,  that means “little monk” is just a little spirit, perhaps the most legendary of Naples, which is usually represented as a deformed child or a person of a very small stature, wearing a robe, with silver buckles on the shoes. Depending on the circumstances, it may manifest either as good spirit or as a demon, in fact, a Neapolitan proverb says,
« ‘o munaciello: a chi arricchisce e a chi appezzentisce »
which translated means,
“the munaciello either enrich (you) or send (you) in misery”
To let you know his history I will take a cue from a tale told in one of his writings by journalist and writer Matilde Serao.

During the reign of Alfonso of Aragon, after a long war in 1442 that reduced the kingdom of Naples to the extreme, the situation gradually improved, and between 1503 and 1707 many works and renovations were carried out, including sewers, roads, the Arc de Triomphe, the Spanish Quarter, via Toledo, the Riviera di Chiaia, etc..
At that time, in the area of the merchants, love had blossomed between the girl Catarinella Frezza, daughter of a merchant of cloth, and the noble guy Stefano Mariconda. Their love and their fidelity was great, but the disparity in birth forbade them the marriage as the union was not well seen by their parents. In spite of so much pain and bitterness, there were moments of happiness for the two lovers, who used to meet in secret. To get to her, Stefano at night, not without danger, jumped up to the roof, from terrace to terrace, till to reach the balcony where the beautiful beloved was waiting him. But one night two treacherous hands grabbed Stefano and threw him down from the balcony, while the poor Catarinella, crying, tried to ward off the killers. Stefano fell in the fetid street below, horribly mangled, until his parents later gave him an honorable burial. The girl, crazy with grief, ran away from home and was admitted to a convent of nuns. She was pregnant, and prematurely gave birth to a little child, tiny pale and with dismayed eyes. Over time, the child was not growing normally and nuns counseled her to take a vow to the Madonna, Catherine did it and dressed up the baby with a little black and white coat that made him look like a small monk. Even when he was a great age, he was short in stature, a dwarf in fact, and went on to wear that kind of robe, and that’s why people called him “the munaciello.” Small body, large head and almost monstrous, the nuns loved him but people in the street and shopkeepers always pointed at him frightened,   reviled at him, as people often do against the weak and defenseless persons. When he passed near the Frezza’s shop, just his uncles and cousins, they threw the most horrible curses. He only found peace and consolation in the mother’s arms. Gradually, in the poor neighborhoods where he was toddling, spread the rumor that the munaciello had something magical, supernatural. From that moment, when people met him, made the sign of the cross and murmured words of incantation. It was said that when he wore the red cap, it was a good omen, but when it was black, a bad omen then. Since he wore the red cap rarely, “the munaciello” was often blasphemed and cursed.
It was said that it was he who carried the foul air in the slums, carrying the fever, rotting water and carrying the bad luck. The mud that people threw at him, soiled the little robes, while the fruit peels hurt his face He fled without speaking, bringing the torment in not being able to react. Now that Catarinella Frezza was dead no one could comfort him. The nuns let him do small services and work in the garden but they also scared to see him suddenly in the dark, as a devilish appearance does. The saying that he had a dark face, that had never been to church, and that people could meet him in different places at the same time, corroborated this. Then, one night he disappeared and did not fail those who said, it has been the devil to carry him off by the hair. But someone suspected the  Frezza family to have strangled and thrown him into a sewer, as well as some small bones with a large skull, found in the cloaca, left suppose.

This here is the story, but nothing ended with his death because it is just here that the legend of munaciello begins.
Here, the poor and unimaginative middle class, living in the fetid narrow and dark streets, in the Neapolitans “basso”‚ without dawn, without end, without water, without poetry and without imagination, had their own sprite. It is not the elf who sings on the banks of the river, nor the gnome dancing on the grass of the meadows, or the one who lives in the new  aristocrats districts, but the evil elf of the old houses of Naples. The zones airy, beautiful, bright and neat does not belong him, just as they are, instead, the streets of Toledo, the gloomy streets of the Tribunali or the dark quarters of the Vicaria, Foria and Pendino. There, where he lived and where he wandered with his robe, with a large head, pale face and large eyes, then it is there that he reappears as a ghost scaring women, children and men. There, where people have let him suffer, unknown soul but  perhaps great in a shrunken weak and sickly body, that’s where he comes back, mischievous and evil spirit in an insatiable desire for revenge.  The “munaciello” is capable of all, when the housewife finds the door’s pantry open, the bladder of lard smashed or the vase with oil on his back, with no doubt it has been him to do it. And it’s always him who let fall the tray with the glasses in the hand of the careless servant, that brings wine to become sour, that kills the hens or dry the basil plants. If the sale in the shop goes wrong, if an established marriage fails or if a rich uncle dies and leaves everything to the parish, for people all this happen because of this little  demon who prepared these large or small misfortunes. It is always “the munaciello” that mess-up house and furniture, that troubles hearts, disarranges minds and frighten. And it is this spirit tormented and tormentor that brings turmoil with his black coat. But when the munaciello wore the red habit, his coming is a good omen. It just for this strange mixture of good and evil, malice and goodness that “munaciello” was respected, feared and loved.
That was why girls in love put themselves under his protection or because old maids were invoking him, from the balcony at midnight for nine days, so that he could procure them a husband.
For this, the player of lottery repeated three times the spells for having the numbers winning, or children to pray to him to have the wished sweets and toys. The house where the munaciello appears is regarded with distrust but not without satisfaction, the person who has seen him is looked upon with compassion, but not without envy. He appears more to girls and children but those who have seen him, keep it as a precious secret that, perhaps bringer of luck. The ghost of this story, which is a soul that has been crying and that makes we cry, that smiled and makes we smile, is a child that men have tortured and killed as a man, but also an elf who torments men as a naughty child but caress and console them as a child naive and innocent.