Visit the submerged park of Baia

The Submerged Archaeological Park of Baia "From commercial port to protected marine area"
To retrace the main stages of the long path that led to the establishment of the park, we must first explain why this area is now below sea level.
We are in the Phlegraean Fields (from the Greek burning land). In this area of volcanic origin there is the phenomenon of bradyseism, it consists of a relatively slow rise (positive bradyseism) or ground level (negative bradyseism) on the human time scale but very fast compared to geological times. Sometimes, as happens in the Phlegraean Fields, these movements can be repeated cyclically over a period of centuries. Generally this phenomenon is due to changes in the volume of a magma chamber close to the surface that empties and fills, or even to changes in heat. which affect the volume of water contained in the very porous subsoil. Due to the phenomenon of bradyseism, the ancient coastal strip has suffered a sinking with the consequent submergence of all the buildings that were built there. Sites of great importance in Roman times, where Pozzuoli was the most famous commercial city, Baia the most famous residential resort and Miseno the seat of the military fleet, are now submerged. The first finds of archaeological finds took place in the 1920s where on the occasion of enlargement of the harbor quay sculptures, architectural elements, fistulas aquaria with imperial stamps were brought to light.

In the 1940s, aerial photographs taken by the pilot Raimondo Baucher highlighted the submerged archaeological area of Portus Julius in the mirror in front of Lake Lucrino.
Despite the interest aroused by these discoveries, the first underwater archaeological survey campaign was launched in the waters of Baia in the 1960s. These investigations led between 1959 and 1960 to the drafting of the first archaeological map of the submerged city of Baia. They were detected near Punta Epitaffio at about -6 meters deep, a paved road, lined with buildings that opened on it, one of them will be discovered two decades later, the nymphaeum of the emperor Claudius, and then continuing towards the sea other remains of structures stretched out over the sea by means of cement casting (today we know that they are pertinent to the maritime quarter of the Villa dei Pisoni). Finally, the identification of some concrete pillars, the Pilae, about 400 meters from the coast, which allowed the identification of the ancient coast line. The program was unfortunately soon interrupted due to the lack of means.

1969 marked two important stages for underwater archeology and the protection of the Baia area.
The first, causal, with the outcrop in front of Punta Epitaffio, following a storm, of two high-quality sculptures that were recognized as "Ulysses and companion with the skin", still in place in the apse of a rectangular building (the Nymphaeum).
The second stage was the agreement between the superintendent of Naples Alfonso De Francis and the director of the military orphanage, housed in the Castello di Baia, to allocate part of this complex to house the archaeological museum of the Campi Flegrei.
Despite a lot of resonance, even these two important stages failed to reach an immediate following.

Only in 1980 the first underwater excavation started directly by archaeologists, which led to the identification of the Nymphaeum of the emperor Claudius and his extraordinary sculptural complex.

In 1984 the Castle of Baia was finally delivered to the superintendency and a restoration project for functional interventions was started: a local archaeological office was set up, a first restoration laboratory and archaeological deposits. It was thus possible to start the first experimental restoration works on the sculptures from the excavation of the Nymphaeum of Punta Epitaffio. In 1997 the room of the Nymphaeum of Punta Epitaffio was set up inside the museum where the submerged nymphaeum of the emperor Claudius is reproduced which approaches the original, but is not a reconstruction.
In the same period, the survey of the submerged city of Baia resumed, where it had been suspended by Nino Lamboglia, edited by G. Di Fraia, E. Scognamiglio and N. Lombardi.
The edition of the submerged Baia archaeological map dates back to them with the positioning of the buildings emerging from the seabed, located on the northern shore, better preserved as they are less traveled by commercial routes. It is the access channel to the Baianus Lacus, the lake-like body of water from the Roman era; of a thermal complex 40 meters east of Punta Epitaffio, of the villa dei Pisoni; a villa with a protruding entrance and splendid floor decorations, overlooking a stretch of road, flanked by tabernae, remains of fish ponds and piers.
On the southern shore, in front of the shipyards and the harbor quay, due to the devastating effect of port traffic, only a few remains of buildings are preserved, while proceeding towards the sea imposing stretches a pier of concrete quay, perpendicular to the large Roman pier, protected by some pilae, with remains of formwork foundations with exceptionally preserved wooden sections.
South of the tip of the Castello di Baia, which is located outside the port area, thanks to the greater depth there are the remains of spectacular fishponds for the breeding of fish and molluscs.

In 1987 the archaeological constraint of the 500 mt marine belt of the entire Flegreo area was placed with the prohibition to alter the status of the places.

Between 1994 and 1998 specific orders were issued by the harbor master's office to regulate the transit of commercial motor vessels.

In 1998 the superintendency takes over the stretch of water on the northern shore.

In 1999 the first visit for divers was created.

In 2000 due to serious damage due to a ferry stranded in the seabed, the commercial port activity was definitively suspended.

On 7 August 2002, the submerged archaeological park of Baia was established as a protected marine area.
The provisional management of the submerged park was entrusted to the Superintendency for the Archaeological Heritage of Naples and Caserta, subsequently to the Special Superintendence of Naples and Pompeii. In 2016 the Phlegraean Fields become Special Superintendence which takes the name of the Phlegraean Fields Archaeological Park which is entrusted with the management of the Submerged Park of Baia
Since then, giant steps have been taken in the protection and enhancement of the area. There are still many problems to be solved, but the path appears outlined today.

The underwater Archaeological Park of Baiae was instituted as a protected marine area (D.I.7.08.2002) under Article 114, Item 10 of Law No. 388 from 2000 by the Ministry of the Environment [Ministerio dell’Ambiente e della Tutela del Territorio] in agreement with the Ministries of Cultural Heritage and Activities, of Infrastructure and Transport, of Agriculture and Forestry [Ministeri per I Beni e le Attività Culturali, delle Infrastrutture e dei Trasporti, della Politiche Agircole e Forestali] and in collaboration with the Region of Campania. Both this park and the underwater Archaeological Park of Gaiola in the bay of Naples, also instituted under the same law, constitute a marine environment with significant historical, archaeological, environmental and cultural value.

The area of the underwater Archaeological Park of Baiae comprises the coastline of Bacoli and Pozzuoli stretching between the port of Baia’s southern-most pier (Omlin jetty) and Lido Augustus pier in Pozzuoli, and is divided into three reserves; total (A), general (B) and partial (C). Management of the Park has presently been entrusted to the Archaeological Authority of Naples and Caserta.

The principal objectives of the underwater Archaeological Park of Baiae are:
  • protection and environmental and archaeological enhancement, incorporating occupational opportunities;
  • dissemination of knowledge about marine biology and underwater archaeological heritage;
  • implementation of educational programmes to improve ecological, marine biological and archaeological awareness;
  • implementation of scientific research programmes to further increase knowledge of the area;
  • promotion of a compatible socio-economic development based upon traditional local activities, local residents and the businesses presently operating within the area.
January 31, 2007
On January 30, 2007 an agreement was signed between the Superintendency for the Archaeological Heritage of the Provinces of Naples and Caserta and the Temporary Association of Assodiving Flegreum Companies represented by the Centro Sub Campi Flegrei for the granting and relative regulation of underwater visits in the Submerged Archaeological Park of Bay. On August 7, 2007, the Assodiving Flegreum association becomes Campano Assodiving Flegreum Consortium.
For the granting and relative regulation of underwater visits in the protected marine area of Baia (NA).

The year two thousand and seven (2007), the 30th day of January

- the Superintendency for the archaeological heritage of the provinces of Naples and Caserta in the person of its legal representative, the superintendent Maria Luisa Nava, hereafter called superintendency

The ATI Srl called Assodiving Flegreum (diving consortium), represented by the "Centro Sub Campi Flegrei".


-The Superintendency, also as the managing body of the Submerged Park of Baia, established by the Interministerial Decree of 07/08/2002, has an institutional interest in the diffusion of knowledge of the same;
- Diving have become consortium for the specific purpose of obtaining the authorization of the superintendence to carry out underwater tourist visits;


The premises form an integral part of the act.

The ATI undertakes to carry out dives with fixed guides enabled for a maximum of eight people per dive.

The ATI undertakes to make a maximum of 5 daily dives for each zone.

The ATI undertakes to prepare an anchor point (dead body or buoy) at each expense at its own expense, to be identified by the underwater archaeological group of the Superintendency.

The cost of the ticket for each visit amounts to € 35.00.

The ATI undertakes to send to the Superintendency by the 5th of each month, the calendar with the indication of the dates relating to the underwater visits.

The ATI undertakes to pay the royalties of 10% on the total gross turnover every three months.

The ATI undertakes to communicate and justify, with reports of the dives completed, the payment envisaged above within the five days of the month following the payment (April-July-October-January).

The ATI undertakes to take out an insurance policy for any damages that may arise to visitors from the activity subject to concession. Stamp duty and any incidental costs are borne by the Dealer.

The parties undertake to integrate this agreement whenever it is deemed necessary.

This agreement has an expressly renewable annual term upon expiry.

ART 12
This agreement will be subject to forfeiture in the event of non-payment of a quarterly installment of the royalties due if 30 days have elapsed from the deadline.

In the event of a dispute, the exclusive place of jurisdiction will be that of Naples.

This deed is drawn up in triple original and, upon reading and confirmation, is signed by the parties on the day, month and year indicated above.

On August 7, 2007 the Campano Assodiving Flegreum Consortium was born. The diving regulations remain unchanged. Subsequently in 2012 authorizations are issued to individual diving centers.
In 2016 the Campi Flegrei became Special Superintendence called "Archaeological Park of the Campi Flegrei". A new regulation is drawn up and an entry "Ticket" of € 5.00 for each diving excursion and € 3.00 for each snorkeling excursion. The new regulation has entered into force but is still provisional. The managing body together with the interested companies is working on the definitive regulation.
News from the park
From July 1st the restoration works of the new polychrome mosaic will begin by the ISCR of Rome underwater section directed by Dr. Barbara Davidde. During the month of July it will be possible to carry out scuba diving, admire the park's backdrops and at the same time see the restorers at work, thanks to the project launched by the Managing Body, Archaeological Park of the Campi Flegrei, in partnership with the ISCR, "Open Shipyards ".
From 26 October to 1 November 2020 there will be the IV edition of the Archeocamp review of Underwater Archeology created by the Sub Campi Flegrei Center. A whole week dedicated to underwater archeology with exhibitions, conferences, diving, snorkeling, training courses in underwater archeology, workshops for children and much more.
If you wish to take a dip in the fascinating history of our country, the instructors of the Centro Sub Campi Flegrei will accompany you on a visit to the Submerged Archaeological Park of Baia in Naples. Equipped with a mask and fins, you can visit the Submerged Archaeological Park of Baia and observe what remains of the civilization that lived here in antiquity: villas and mosaics now immersed in a cloud of fish ... no need to be a diver patented for swimming in the Roman ruins!

This course is designed to be a safe and supervised introduction to underwater archeology. It is designed so that divers learn theoretical notions, begin to practice planning techniques and procedures and learn about the problems and dangers of diving for archaeological purposes. The importance of using environmentally friendly techniques and the sensitivity of archaeological activity will be reiterated throughout the course.
Training should highlight fun, social and personal value, satisfaction and emphasize safety. At the end of the course, the distinctive PADI Underwater Archeology patent and a certificate of participation will be issued.

In collaboration with REITIA - Documentation for Underwater Archeology.
Reitia, International Training Partner of the Nautical Archaeological Society (NAS - international point of reference in training in underwater archeology), organizes, with the collaboration of the Sub Campi Flegrei Center at the Submerged Park of Baia - Pozzuoli (NA), the NAS Introduction to courses Foreshore and Underwater Archeology and NAS Part I: Certificate in Foreshore and Underwater Archeology according to internationally validated teaching standards, accredited by UNESCO and recognized as university credits in many European and non-European countries.
The training courses include learning the basic principles of underwater archeology with the study of the main operating areas and 2D / 3D detection methods with simulation of different operating situations in real archaeological environments according to NAS standards and the indications of the Italian Association of Scientific Underwater Operators (AIOSS) and European Scientific Diving related to scuba diving conducted for scientific purposes.

In collaboration with the diving center Sub Campi Flegrei

The Sub Campi Flegrei center intends to complete the work done in the previous fields in the submerged archaeological park of Baia. After these works, we will move to the stretch of coast overlooking the Aragonese Castle of Baia, where the remains of a large maritime villa are submerged, of which the fish ponds, pavilions and various porticoed rooms have been recognized. A semi-annular structure is remarkable, probably another fishpond, protected by pilae or opus pilarum (large blocks in cement and tuff which seem to form the pattern of opus reticolatum on visible faces), which are supposed to be evidence of the presence of a pier.
The following will be carried out: the classification of the biodiversity present, the reproduction of architectural details of the wall structures, the three-dimensional relief of these, the elevation and the artistic reproduction of the six statues present in the Nymphaeum of Claudio. In the other site, the reconstruction and plan of the wall remains and the opus pilarum will be carried out. Site maps, dissemination cards of the species present and a relief model will then be drawn up.

The project started in 2006 aims to increase the usability of the park.
In collaboration with REITIA - Documentation for Underwater Archeology

The three-day workshop is aimed at students, graduates in archeology and conservation of cultural heritage and divers with an ARA diving license and a medical certificate of non-competitive fitness for diving, interested in acquiring a basic preparation on digital underwater photographic shooting techniques for the purpose of scientific documentation. The limited number workshop is reserved for a maximum of 10 students, it will consist of theoretical and practical sessions held by Reitia instructors and sector specialists. At the end of the course the CMAS / ACDC international underwater photography patent (Ph1) and a certificate of participation that could be useful to students following the NAS PART III: Advanced Certificate in Foreshore and Underwater Archeology will be issued.

In collaboration with REITIA - Documentation for Underwater Archeology