Gaiola Underwater Park Naples & Villa of Pausilypon

Gaiola is both the name of two of the smallest islands off the coast of Naples and of the underwater park around it. The protected marine park was established in 2002 and stretches from the small village of Marechiaro to the bay of Trentaremi.

Gaiola Underwater Park Naples

History and description

Gaiola underwater park Naples
The islands of Gaiola

The Gaiola Underwater Park (Parco sommerso di Gaiola) is the name of a marine protected area in the Bay of Naples. The 42-hectare protected area takes its name from two homonymous islets that rise a short distance from the Posillipo coast.

The islands are distinguished by a rocky coastline and yellow tufa cliffs, overgrown with Mediterranean scrub. A picturesque bridge connects to the two islands.

Amongst the underwater Roman ruins you can see species such as moray eels, octopuses, sea breams and Mediterranean rainbow wrasses.

Villa of Pausylipon

On the seabed you can see the remains of the imperial Villa of Pausilypon, a sumptuous seaside villa built by Publio Vedio Pollione at the beginning of the 1st century AD. The villa is submerged as a result of a phenomenon called Bradyseism, a slow subsidence of the earth’s crust caused by the emptying of an underground magma chamber.

The villa had many functions. It was of course used for leisure time, but there was also a fish farm, where sea breams, moray eels and oysters were bred. It was also big enough to have an amphitheater that could seat 2000 spectators.

After Pausilypon, the Augusta dynasty took possession of the island. One of the last owners was the author Norman Douglas (1868-1952), whose reputation as a child molester has eclipsed that of his writing.

The villa taking up a good part of the island nowadays was constructed in 1874, by a wealthy businessman called Luigi de Negri.

Useful information

Address: Discesa Gaiola (Cala S. Basilio) – Napoli. Phone: +39 081 2403235.

A visit to the park is free, but reservations are obligatory. You can either book for the 09:00 – 13:00 or the 14:00 – 18:00 slot. No more than 200 people are allowed entrance at the same time. Minors have to be accompanied by adults. Reservations start at 18:00 on Sundays, and are only for the following week. You can book at the official site.

Public transport: Take metro Line 2 to Mergellina, followed by a bus to the Capo Posillipo stop. Walk via the Via Tito Lucrezio Caro to Discesa Gaiola.

Gaiola island and Underwater Park, Naples

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