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The Sea of Naples

A dip in the splendid waters of the gulf, even out of season (weather permitting), is perhaps one of the best things about the city of Naples.
Practically all year round, Neapolitans - real devotees of the sun tan - never miss an opportunity, one way or another, to enjoy the sunshine, and why not, to have a swim in the sea, even in the few hours of their lunchtime break.
It is impossible not to notice the bathers who venture out onto the rocks along Via Partenope and Via Caracciolo, especially on the small and extremely crowded beach next to the Rotonda Diaz, known to most as "mappatella beach", right up to the little port of Mergellina.
Without doubt, opportunities for enjoying a day of sunshine are not lacking in the city.
The ideal places are the two boat landing-places (that can also be reached by land) at Marechiaro and La Gaiola, in the most famous residential zone of the city, along the green hill of Posillipo that descends gently towards the sea, dotted here and there with splendid villas.
A number of the city's historical "baths" are found along Via Posillipo.
They open with the first summer sunshine and stay open till the end of September.
Among the most exclusive and popular (especially at the weekend) there are: "Bagno Elena", that combines the historical tradition of swimming establishments on raised decks with the modern idea of swimming tourism, with its postcard views of the island of Capri and the Sorrento coast; the "Bagno Ideal" and the "Lido Sirena" on either side of the imposing Palazzo Donn'Anna and, further along, the cosy establishment at the Rocce Verdi.
Further along, on the left, there is the road that leads down to Marechiaro, with a few establishments, including the exclusive "Villa Imperiale" and many famous restaurants.
For a dive into the wonderful waters that give their name to this place, once you are in the little piazza and reach the foot of the stairs, you continue to the right for the "Lido delle Rose" or to the left; here, for a few euros you can be ferried to the adjacent tufa rocks where sunbeds and refreshment areas have been set up.
In the months of July and August the rock piers of Marechiaro are very crowded; the ideal months to go are May, June and September.
In any case, they are worth at least a visit.
Another splendid landing place, which also has land access, is the nature reserve of the Gaiola, an ever popular place with splendid water.
On the adjacent promontory there once lay the grandiose Villa Pausilypon, (a Greek word that means "pause from pain", indicating the quiet and delights of the place) that gave its name to the whole area on the tufa stone hill that overlooks the sea.
Departing from Santa Lucia or Mergellina, you could also opt for a trip on the water and rent a small boat, dinghy, sailing boat or canoe (in the grottos of the beach adjacent to the Palazzo Donn'Anna).
Along the coast you can notice: Villa Pavoncelli, Villa Marino, Villa Cotrau; you can admire the small Cala di San Pietro ai due Frati, surrounded by scenery of natural caves, with the graceful pagoda of Villa Roccaromana and the splendid Villa Pierce.
And then, you arrive at the enchanting Baia del Cenito.
Despite the fact that in the summer it is the destination of countless recreational boats, here is a great place for a swim in a setting that is made all the more picturesque by the presence of an enormous trapezoidal cave dug into the tufa stone rock and by the splendid buildings that crown the landscape.
Almost a continuation of the back of the Posillipo hill, there is also, finally, the Isthmus of Nisida, the extreme outcrop before the plain of Fuorigrotta, through which you arrive at the Phlegrean Fields.
Even in this area there are plenty of possibilities to enjoy the sun and the sea of Naples, in the many establishments that lie along the coastline, including among many others, the Arenile, situated on the beach of Bagnoli.
It is open almost all the year round, in the evenings, too.
This lido is a popular venue, with a restaurant-bar and solarium, and is animated during the whole summer season by concerts, musical groups and evening entertainment shows. (Simona Virgilio)

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