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Diving into the submerged Pompei

Even without coral reefs, Italy has got the top sites in the world for spectacular scuba diving. As in the sea of Campi Flegrei, in Liguria or in our thirty protected marine areas

Stefano Mei

Diving into the submerged Pompei
Underwater wonders: treasure hunt

Caves, wrecks, backdrops, statues and even Roman villas: the hidden side of the "Bel Paese" to admire underwater, is equal to the beauty of the treasures revealed in the sunlight.

Italy is among the leading countries of apnea in the world with 300,000 sub in activities. And even if it doesn't have the crystalline Polynesian water, Italy knows how to attract enthusiasts of diving with a fabulous hunt of sunken treasure.

An example. The Archaeological Park of Baia is a protected marine area in the heart of the Gulf of Pozzuoli and is considered by the American website Travel&Leisure the "coolest" place in which to dive.

These waters still keep intact the Patrician villas and ancient Roman baths, buried at sea by the sinking of the coastal strip.

A unique place in the world known as the submerged Pompeii: you just have to go down a few meters to swim among the 12 pillars of Porto Giulio and columns of the Villa dei Pisoni, statues of Ulysses and of Dionysus, the fishponds, the mosaics and still brilliant frescoes, all surrounded by "clouds" of fishes, colorful mollusks (nudibranchs) and anemones that live in the sea of Campi Flegrei.

The area is suitable to every sub and shows a spectacular symbiosis between human history and marine life.           

Baia was the fashion residence of the Roman aristocracy, frequented by the most powerful men, from the Republican era to the imperial age: Mario, Caesar, Cicero, Pompey the Great and later the emperors Augustus, Tiberius, Claudius, Caligula until Hadrian and Severus Alexander. Everyone staying in one of the elegant seaside villas that dotted the flegrea coastline.

"Mos baianum" say the sources: fashion made of ostentatious luxury and extravagance of the costumes, bizarre and researched architectures, tested in the domus along the banks of Baianus lacus, the lake that filled the inlet of Baia.

At the end of the fourth century A.D. began the slow downward movement (bradyseism) that wiped out the coastal strip, dragging underwater villas, residences and thermal complexes.

Today the sea bottoms of Baia are a journey into the past, in the ancient city of nobles and their customs. It's an immersion between nature and archeology, in rare and precious scenarios.

Travel&Leisure is also celebrating another Italian site,  the one in front of the Abbey of San Fruttuoso, between Portofino and Camogli, in Liguria.

Here there is the Cristo degli Abissi (Christ of the Depths), the monument commemorating people who have dedicated and sacrificed their lives to the sea. The statue was placed there in 1954 and has become one of the world's most famous scuba diving. Every year in the end of August in the bay is held a ceremony with the benediction of the waters, the procession by torchlight and the immersion of the divers that reach Christ to leave a laurel wreath.

Always in Liguria this year there was a special opening of diving tours to the wreck of the Roman cargo ship sank off the Gallinara island. The wreck of Albenga is an immersion of great beauty. On the sea bottom to 40 meters deep there are hundreds amphorae that draw the elongated shape of the boat.

An amazing marine life with morays, crabs, lobsters and octopus finds refuge in old shipping containers.

So even without taking a plane and fly to the tropical islands Italy has a lot to offer to the sub; on a journey into the sea that is discovery and knowledge, among wrecks and shipwrecks, submerged monuments and natural reserves.

To have an idea (and begin to dream) you only have to go on the website of the Italian parks that that lists 30 marine protected areas with the two submerged parks of Baia and Gaiola, the Sanctuary of Cetacei and national parks (Arcipelago Toscano, Maddalena, Asinara, Cinque Terre, Cilento and Gargano) that stretches the protection from the coast to the sea around. It’s an online guide for spectacular scuba diving, to the discover of wrecks , treasures and unique sea bottoms in the Mediterranean sea; relying on diving centers that assist subs all year.

 

INFO

www.parks.it/indice/RM/index.php

www.areamarinaprotettabaia.eu

www.parcoarcheologicosommersodibaia.it

Underwater wonders: treasure hunt
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