The Castle of Baia, which commands a 360-degree view eastward across the Bay of Pozzuoli and westward across the open Tyrrhenian, provides a fittingly dramatic setting for the Archaeological Museum of Campi Flegrei. Though the castle's foundation dates to the late 15th century, when Naples was ruled by the House of Aragon and an invasion by Charles VIII of France looked imminent, the structure was radically transformed under the Spanish viceroy Don Pedro de Toledo after the nearby eruption of Monte Nuovo in 1538. Indeed, its bastions bear a striking resemblance to the imposing Castel Sant'Elmo in Naples, built in the same period.
Of the various exhibitions, the first on the suggested itinerary consists of plaster casts from the Roman period found at the Baia archaeological site. This gives valuable insights into the techniques used by the Romans to make copies from Greek originals in bronze from the Classical and Hellenistic periods.
Pride of place goes to the sacellum,
or small sanctuary, transported from nearby Misenum and tastefully displayed inside the Aragonese tower, the Torre Tenaglia. Standing about 20 feet high, the sacellum has been reconstructed, with two of its original six columns (the rest in steel) and a marble architrave with its dedicatory inscription to the husband-and-wife team who commissioned sanctuary's restoration in the 2nd century AD. The beneficent couple is depicted above this. Behind the facade are the naked marble figures of Vespasian (left) and Titus (right) in a flattering heroic pose, at least from the neck downward.
Unfortunately, what should be the museum's showpiece—Emperor Claudius' nymphaeum—has been closed for several years because of a dangerously unstable wall. Discovered in 1959 but only systematically excavated in the early 1980s, the original nymphaeum now lies under 20 feet of water in the Bay of Pozzuoli. Though you can't see the nymphaeum in person, Heculaneum's MAV museum contains a striking virtual reproduction.
On weekdays except Friday, you can get to the museum on a regular bus from the old Baia railway station. Purchase a round-trip ticket at the kiosk outside and board the bus headed toward Bacoli. On Friday, weekends, and public holidays, take the Archeobus Flegreo from Piazza della Repubblica, Pozzuoli, or other sites.
Via Castello 39, Bacoli, Campania, 80070, Italy