Not many know that the city of Naples in Italy is an impressive volcanic area, with quite a few volcanoes. The Volcanic Park of Naples consists of less than 40 ancient volcanoes, some active and some not. The area is very large – about 15 kilometers wide – and is considered one giant volcano.
This type of volcano can have very strong lava eruptions, which will destroy everything in the area, within a radius of many kilometers, and even change the global climate map. Solpetra is a more dangerous place than the average volcano.
Despite all this, you have absolutely nothing to worry about. Such an eruption in the region occurs only once in a hundred thousand years and the last one was relatively recently, in the 11th century. The area is constantly monitored by professionals and the control is too high for anything to happen while you are staying there.
Solfatara volcano is one of the few places in the world that can be visited as a national park. The name of the place comes from the word Sulfur – sulfur in Leaz, which is the common substance in the soil of the area. The total area of the park is about 150 thousand square meters and it is privately owned by local rich families.
A bit of history
The Sulpetre volcano is in Pozzuoli, a few kilometers north of Naples. The area is also called Campi Flegrei. The origin of the name is Greek and its literal meaning is “fields of fire”. During the rule of the Greek Empire, more than two thousand years ago, the area was used as the site of the battle between the god Zeus and the Titan warriors.
The Titans lost the battle and were buried on the spot. A myth tells that every time the earth began to smoke, the Greeks would make it happen by having the Titans smoke. When the earth began to shake the Greeks claimed that the Titans were restlessly tossing and turning.
When the water in the area became salty it was due to the many tears that the Titans shed. Thus the Greeks created a narrative that explained the gas eruptions, earthquakes, and thermal water – phenomena that are all linked to the active volcano.
Visiting the place
Visiting a volcano is a wonderful and unique experience. When you walk inside the volcanic park, you can feel that the ground under your feet is heated from below, just like a pot on a fire. At various points in the park, you can also see a lot of white smoke rising, as if something magical is brewing there.
The feeling is creepy and as if taken from a fantasy movie. If you stomp your feet or drop a stone on the ground, you will be able to feel a vibration wave that will spread for several meters and also hear a kind of sonic echo, as if you hit a hollow vessel.
The ground you stepped on is made of hot lava that previously erupted and hardened. It is full of air bubbles and therefore has an incredibly soft and flexible texture. The smell in the place is of sulfur, somewhat reminiscent of the familiar smell of the Dead Sea.
The ground near the crater is painted in spectacular oranges and browns. The area is dry and rocky, but around the Solpetra volcano, everything is green and beautifully blooming.
The large crater is about 600 meters from the entrance to the site. The temperature gets warmer as you get closer to its center and so does the sulphurous smell of the mud.
It is interesting to know that the sulfuric mud in the soil has medicinal properties and was commonly used for medical purposes in the past, and even today. Thermal water is commonly used in spa treatments as well as to cure scabies and various skin diseases.
It should be noted that it is absolutely forbidden to deviate from the marked paths for walking on the spot and if you come with children you must keep them close to you. The ground is winding and steep, you can slip and fall easily and in such an area it is a real danger.
How to get there
You can get to the park by subway, line 2 to the Pozzuoli – Solfatara station, from there it’s another short walk of a few minutes. Another option is to take a bus that arrives at the park and leaves the city itself, from the Piazzale Tecchio station.
The place is open at all hours of the day, sometimes it opens at night for unique tours (worth checking). In the months of April-October every day at 8:30-19:00. In the months of November-March every day from 8:30-16:30.
A normal entrance ticket to the site costs 7 euros, and a ticket for a child aged 5-12 will cost 5 euros. Children under the age of 5 enter for free. An entrance ticket at night costs 15-20 euros (charged by prior arrangement).
For groups of over 15 people, the entrance costs 6 euros per person. If you come with a rental car, you can park it for a fee in a designated parking lot near the park.