Fodor's Expert Review Anfiteatro Flavio

Pozzuoli Archaeological Site/Ruins

Despite the wear and tear of the millennia and the loss of masonry during the Middle Ages, this site is one of the Campi Flegrei area's Roman architectural marvels. The amphitheater (seating capacity, 40,000) was probably built under Vespasian (AD 70–AD 79), although some historians maintain that work started under Nero (AD 54–AD 69) and was merely completed later. As you approach, note the exterior's combination of volcanic stone masonry, arranged in a net-shape pattern, and horizontal bands of brick. This technique, typical of the late 1st and early 2nd centuries, was designed to reduce stress and minimize damage during seismic events. Despite this precaution, much of the superstructure has been lost: the outside part consisted of three stories surmounted by a decorative attic, while the sitting area would have had a portico above the top row of seats, decorated with statues and supported by columns. A surviving passageway near the ticket office leads into a complex underground... READ MORE

Despite the wear and tear of the millennia and the loss of masonry during the Middle Ages, this site is one of the Campi Flegrei area's Roman architectural marvels. The amphitheater (seating capacity, 40,000) was probably built under Vespasian (AD 70–AD 79), although some historians maintain that work started under Nero (AD 54–AD 69) and was merely completed later. As you approach, note the exterior's combination of volcanic stone masonry, arranged in a net-shape pattern, and horizontal bands of brick. This technique, typical of the late 1st and early 2nd centuries, was designed to reduce stress and minimize damage during seismic events. Despite this precaution, much of the superstructure has been lost: the outside part consisted of three stories surmounted by a decorative attic, while the sitting area would have had a portico above the top row of seats, decorated with statues and supported by columns. A surviving passageway near the ticket office leads into a complex underground network of carceres (cells), which is well worth a visit.

In Classical times, the entertainment here consisted mainly of animal hunts, public executions, and gladiator fights. The hunts often involved lions, tigers, and other exotic animals imported from far-flung corners of the Roman Empire. The fossa, or large ditch in the arena's middle, may have contained the permanent stage setting, which could be raised when necessary to provide a scenic backdrop. According to tradition, several early Christians—including the Naples protector St. Januarius, or San Gennaro—were condemned to be savaged by wild beasts here under the Fourth Edict, passed in AD 304 by Diocletian, but the sentence was later commuted to a less spectacular decapitation, carried out farther up the hill in the Solfatara. The amphitheater is near the Pozzuoli Metropolitana railway station and a 15-minute walk from the Solfatara. The Pozzuoli tourist office has event and other information.

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Archaeological Site/Ruins

Quick Facts

Via Terracciano 75
Pozzuoli, Campania  80078, Italy

081-5266007

Sight Details:
Rate Includes: €4, includes admission to Cumae and Museo Archeologico dei Campi Flegrei, and site of Baia

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