Art and Culture

Monte Nuovo (New Mountain) - Phlegraean Fields - Naples

The eruption of Monte Nuovo was an exceptional event, unique in the history of the Phlegraean Fields.
It modified the Lake Lucrino, which in Roman age occupied a much larger surface than the present one and was united to the lake Averno through an artificial channel with the realization of the "Portus Julius" in 38-36 b.C.
Because of the bradyseism the lake was submerged by the sea in the 10th-11th century, provoking the withdrawing of the coastal line.
Along the eastern shores there was the village Tripergole, famous for the Villa of Fausto Cornelio Silla, the dictator's grandson, and for Cicero's Cumanum.
Here there were also a Church and the Hospital of St. Marta, founded by Carlo III d'Angiò at the end of the 13th century for thermal cures destined to poor people; five thermal baths, two taverns and houses for rich patients; a Roman dome-shaped building (designed by Giuliano Sangallo), of remarkable style and proportions.
Besides the "Balneum Tripergulae" there were in the vicinity also the "Ciceronis", "Arcus" and "Raynerii" ones, quoted by Pietro from Eboli.
In the following centuries the soil began to rise under endogenous pressures and it emerged again a long tract of coast, where gradually they happened tectonic phenomena, culminating with the eruption of the volcano.
It raised, preceded by frequent and intense telluric shocks, during the night between the 29th and the 30th September 1538, with a swelling of the soil in the zone of Tripergole.
Successively, when the swelling sank, it opened an explosive abyss, from which the erupted materials (stones, lapilli and ashes) formed in little more than three days the hill which was called by the contemporaries Monte Nuovo (New Mountain).
There are many witnesses of people who assisted to this phenomenon, among which the bishop Marco Antonio Delli Falconi, the Aristotelian Philosopher Simone Porzio and the scholar Francesco Marchesino.
Thanks to them it was possible to reconstruct the proceeding and the consequences of the eruption, as well as the impression it stirred up among the contemporaries.
Moreover, on the occasion of the bradyseismic events of 1982-1984, the volcanologists could compare them with the events of 1538 in order to hypothesize the future ones, which fortunately did not happen.
As a consequence of the eruption, the East part of the basin of the lake Lucrino, in that period covered by the sea, was filled with eruptive materials (the present lake originated only in the 17th century), the lake Averno was isolated from the sea, the village of Tripergole and the Roman villas were destroyed.
The ash and lapilli rain came as far as Pozzuoli, whose inhabitants, terrified by the continuous earthquakes, fled and repopulated the city only after the encouragement of the Viceroy Don Pedro, who built there his own palace, of which it survives the Tower Toledo.
In foreground Monte Nuovo with the high part of the crater rich in vegetation, seen from the Lake Lucrino.
130 metres high, with a diameter of about 1 Kilometre, Monte Nuovo occupies the West sector of the Gulf of Pozzuoli, interrupting its original geomorphology.
It borders South the coastal line, West and North-West the lakes Lucrino and Averno, North the plane of Toiano.
The crater has a diameter of about 400 metres and a bottom reachable at a depth of 80 metres.
The recent institution of the Naturalistic Oasis of Monte Nuovo ensures finally its safeguard and enjoyment rendering it "an ambient monument".
During the ascent to the top of the crater it is possible to enjoy, from the Southern side, a splendid view which stretches from Capo Posillipo to Nisida and from the historical centre of Pozzuoli to Capo Miseno, while, in very limpid days, it is possible to see in background the Peninsula of Sorrento.
From the top you can observe the inside of the crater, characterized by steep faces.
The bottom is reachable through a path.
Covering the path of the ridge, you arrive at the opposite side which faces the Lake Averno.
From here you enjoy the sight of the two lakes, of Punta Epitaffio and of the Isle of Ischia.
Proceeding clockwise it is also possible to see Monte Barbaro, originally part of the Gauro, an ancient Phlegraean volcano.
Finally it is interesting the distribution of the flora, which covers the surfaces of Monte Nuovo: on the external sides wood of pine-trees with arbutus, cistus and heather in the undergrowth, bushes of broom, lentisk and bushy ilex; in the crater Mediterranean flora and Gramineae in the South side, ilex and chestnut-tree in the North side, ferns, wild fennels and Gramineae at the bottom.
(Paolo Caputo and Maria Rosaria Pugliese - "La via delle Terme")

How you can get there from the Hotel
From the Piazza Amedeo Station take line 2 on the subway, in the direction of Gianturco, and get off in Montesanto (fist stop); proceed by Cumana train (Naples-Torregaveta line) from terminus in Piazza Montesanto (at 100 metres from the subway Station) and get off at Lucrino stop.


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