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The special holiday atmosphere, so proudly passed to our days, was first given to Campania Archipelago by our Roman ancestors

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Nautica Magazine 401, September 1995


"Navigare Necesse" (an ancient roman saying)

Gulf of Naples

There is nothing new in the fact that the coast of the Campania region (Italy) are , as far as holidays are concerned, one of the best stages for sailing cruise. Traffic is certainly the heaviest, but by choosing accurately dates and times and avoiding week ends, one can enjoy one of the world's best scenery. For our cruise, we shall select only three islands leaving the discovery of the many coastal jewels to a tour by car.

The closest to the main land, and the less known to sailing wanderer, is Procida island which by no means is less attractive then the others, better known, islands. Procida lies in front of Miseno Cape and the channel dividing the island from the mainland and bearing the same Capès name is difficult to negotiate due to the presence of many reefs across it. The biggest of these latter dangers to navigation, named as Torrione reef, is marked by a lighted spar. Marina di Procida, the main town, lies on the northern side of the island and its port is made of a dock , this latter also acting as breakwater.

Gulf of Naples IIM nautical chart on Pagine Azzurre

Extreme care should be exercise when entering the harbor due to the heavy ferry traffic; a marina under construction and almost finished (250 berths are already available) offer possibilities of docking. Completely built with yellow tuff rock and with orange trees scattered everywhere, Procida convey the unspoiled glamour of the old sea towns. The housing conglomerate called the "Palazzata", resultant of a very liberal and randomly executed construction minus a proper building plan, has produced an architectural ensemble typical of the location and not found elsewhere. Inland, in the hart of a boroughs called Terra Murata, a huge parade ground overlooks the Saint Michael abbey rebuilt during the Spanish rule after being destroyed by the Saracens.

Circumnavigating Procida, shelter can be found at the Vivara islet connected to the shore by an artificial isthmus. The islet which seats a natural park, is covered by a thick vegetation and a lookout tower stands at its top. The cove formed by the two islands make for an excellent anchorage; alternatively one can call at Chiaolella harbor where boats with 15 meters LOA can be taken in.

On Ischia island much has been said and written. With an area equal to 47 square kilometers, is the biggest of the Gulf's islands offering many interesting aspects. Inhabited since the pre-roman times, the island was famous for its clay used to carve vases and useful containers and in the third century B.C. suffered of volcanic eruption which left a salt lake in place of the volcano mouth. The lake was to remain separated from the sea until the last century when king Ferdinand the Second ordered to dig an opening obtaining a natural harbor that was christened by the royal yacht "Delfino" escorting more than one hundred boats and giving to Ischia the safest port one can seek. There is room for 200 berths with LOA up to 30 meters with full and efficient services. Above all, the call at Ischia is worth for a visit to the renown thermal baths, last remainder of the island's volcanic origin, and where with a water temperature of 65 degrees C one is washed as well as properly purified and healthily refitted.

Another anchorage is found at the Carta Romana road, close to the Aragonese castle built by Gerone of Syracuse an lava islet and overhanging the sea. The castle was conquered by King Alphonse of Aragona who exploited a newly built bridge to capture it. Since then , this particular place is named Ischia Ponte, the Italian name for bridge. This pristine and charming place, not too distant from the Saint Anne reefs, is a preferred diving site where in water depth no more than ten meters the ruins of Aenaria , a pre- roman hamlet destroyed by a volcanic eruption on 130 B.C., can be inspected. Navigating anti-clockwise. the nearest landing is at Cassamicciola, a place renown since the Middle Age for its healing waters. There is room at this port for 100 boats with LOA up to 60 meters; there is however a draught limitation of 2.5 meters at the dock and a shallow water patch with water depth of about 1 meter at the harbor center. Lacco Ameno and its patron saint, Santa Restituita, whose original building dates back to the year 1000, offers only a finger pier and whose head is used by ferries. There are two new docks but water depth here is between 3 and 1.2 meters as well. Thirty boats with maximum LOA of 15 meters can be moored here. Immediately around Soccorso point the port of Fiorio, with a small church and Mount Apium, 800 meters high, both overlooking it, can be easily reached. While a new port installation is being built, only forty boats not exceeding 40 meters LOA can be accepted her.

Sant' Angelo, sheltered by the homonymous cape and two cliffs, has one 50 meters long pier where about 50 boats with 50 meters maximum LOA can be taken.

Gulf of Naples However, the true jewel of the Gulf is Capri island whose splendid shape is renown the world over. It was not by pure chance that Emperor Augustus, coming back from Egypt, felt in love with the place, bought and elected it as his favorite home. Tatter Emperor Tiberius brought it to fame giving to the island that particular, slightly transgress atmosphere that has been transmitted to our days by modern tourism. Who has not heard of the Blue Grotto or the incredible cliffs, the Faraglioni, last remnants of what once was a unique and immense grotto? Other highlights of this remarkable island are Villa Jovis and the Solaro mountain, 589 meters high and easily climbed with a seat lift, from where one can enjoy the entire gulf's view. The locally famous cable car will take you from Marina Grande to the equally famous little square where the entire Capri lifestyle is on permanent show. Due to the tourist flow, heavy and steady regardless of the season, the island is not worth visiting in daylight hours: hordes of tourists from everywhere continuously land and wander here. Those lucky enough to have a hotel room booked in advance or own a house there or, better, have their boat moored nearby will better enjoy the island best site. With the last ferry gone to the main land , the island's population stabilize at acceptable levels and, especially in the cold season the entire place is yours together with the romantic paths, the sophisticated restaurants, the juicy ice cream parlors of that unique establishment making mozzarella cheese braids billed with prosciutto and tasty herb, The port is made of a basin protected by two breakwaters and is divided in three sections: the commercial, the tourist and the wet basin itself. The tourist portion can accommodate 350 boats with LOA up to 60 meters and has a water depth of 7 meters. From the Marina Grande entrance and turning anti-clockwise, one reaches the Blue Grotto; the place is easily identified by the numerous rowing boats standing nearby. By calling one of them you can, tide permitting, visit the grotto inside and enjoy a view found nowhere else. After rounding the Arcera Cape and Carena Point the southern island's part is reached. Marina Piccola will offer only a series of small landing piers offering brief and relative shelter to small boats; continuing coastwise one reaches the "Faraglioni" area, ideal for an unforgettable swim if the season is right, followed by a lunch in one of the restaurants behind Tragara Point reachable after a pleasant pram ride. There will be ample time to complete the island's circumnavigation and be back at the Marina Grande moorings, ready to face the intensely passionate Caprìs night life

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