Why should you go to Pozzuoli?

There are two sites at Pozzuoli, the amphitheatre and the so-called Temple of Serapis. During much of the Republican era of Roman history Pozzuoli was its most important port and it is probable that much still lies beneath the modern town.

The amphitheatre was reputed to be the third largest in the entire roman empire. Today it lacks the high walls which are so characteristic of the Flavian amphitheatre in Rome but it is possible to walk on the surface of the arena and it is also possible to enter the area beneath the arena from which animals could be hoisted close to the surface and be released onto the fighting area. The spaces which would have been occupied by trapdoors for this purpose remain. It is also possible to work out how the entrances and exits for the audience were arranged and how the arena could be accessed by the staff.
The so-called Temple of Serapis is the roman market in Pozzuoli. It is called the Temple of Serapis because the early excavators assumed that the circular pillared structure at its centre was a temple. A similar structure was found in the market in Pompeii. It contained numerous fish bones, and it seems likely that this area, in Pompeii at least, was used for the sale of fish. A provisions market in Latin is macellum and some guide books continue to use this term for the market at Pozzuoli.

The market at Pozzuoli is not a particularly interesting structure. It is not possible to walk among the remains and little more is learnt than would be available from a good guide book but if one is visiting the amphitheatre the extra distance to reach market is not that great and it is a walk downhill.

How to get there

Pozzuoli is on the slope of a steep hill. The sensible way to visit these two sites is to arrive by metro at the station, which is above the amphitheatre, to walk down to it and then on down to the sea front to see the Temple of Serapis and to return to Naples using the Cumana line, the station for which is just behind the sea front.

Take metro line 2 from any of the stations in Naples city centre, Garibaldi, Cavour or Montesanto. If using Montesanto the Metro line is not in the big modern train station; it is nearby, diagonally across the piazza. Pozzuoli is the end of the line. Leave the station, turn right and walk down hill for about 200 metres. The enormous block of masonry on your right is the amphitheatre. Walk around it to the entrance which is on the opposite side.

To go from the amphitheatre to the Temple of Serapis return to the road which descends from the Metro station and turn right to go on down towards the sea front. Proceed along the sea front until the Temple of Serapis is signed between the sea front and the railway line.

The Temple of Serapis is close to a Cumana line station which you can use to get back to Naples arriving at the smart new station in Montesanto. The Cumana line station in Pozzuoli is one block in the Naples direction from the Temple of Serapis and behind the row of buildings along the seafront.

Travellers by car should assume that parking will be difficult in Pozzuoli, there is parking adjacent to the amphitheatre but the author has not seen an empty parking space in this area.

A summary of the train services is available.

Last travelled

The author last completed the journey described in June 2008.