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Cycling tourism

Giro d'Italia

Stage 8 | Napoli - Procida

Difficulty
Medium
Best Period

May, June, September

Cycling through this land means losing yourself in a world of seemingly irreconcilable opposites. The crumbling palaces and baroque halls of the capital; the crystalline water of the sea and the sulphurous vapours of the volcanoes. And yet, a thread links them all: culture, of which the island of Procida is the 2022 Italian Capital.

 

The boiling and transforming earth

The Gulf of Neaples is an enormous C that embraces a slice of the Tyrrhenian Sea, from Monte di Procida in the north to Punta Campanella in the south. The queens of these crystal-clear waters are the islands of the Campania Archipelago: Ischia, Procida and Capri, with their terraces and jagged coastlines of caves and inlets. Dominating the skyline of the Gulf of Naples, however, is Vesuvius, with its 1,291 metres above sea level iconic profile. Active for some 40,000 years, among its slopes dotted with orchids and broom, you can identify the solidified lava flows, signs of the last eruption, in 1944. But there is more than one volcano here. Campi Flegrei, the area north of the Gulf of Pozzuoli, rests on a large caldera and is subject to bradyseism, the oscillations of the land due to fumarolic and seismic activity.

 

Discovering the Gulf of Naples on a bike

The city of Naples, the town of Monte di Procida, the island of Procida and the ancient spa town of Baia: in the 153 kilometres of this itinerary inspired by stage 8 of the Giro d’Italia 2022 there is plenty to see. In fact the capital of Campania is full of monuments, museums and characteristic neighbourhoods. It’s no coincidence that the American broadcaster CNN has named it one of the 22 best tourist destinations of 2022. But there is more to it. Those who want to follow the route of the professional race will also discover Campi Flegrei, the volcanic expanse that holds fascinating and mysterious ruins. As you may have guessed, there are plenty of good reasons to get off your bicycle.

(Cultural) Treasure Island

giro d italia 8 marina di corricella

An initial slight incline leads the riders up the hill of Posillipo, the elegant district of Naples with its stunning views. Past Bacoli, the course reaches Monte di Procida, where the professional riders race 4 laps in a 19-kilometre circuit, rolling through Torregaveta and Lake Lucrino. At this point, it’s up to you. Be aware, however, that you are in a place that deserves a closer look. From Acquamorta beach, in fact, it seems as if you can touch Procida, and it’s a bit true: the island, Italian Capital of Culture in 2022, is only 20 minutes away by ferry. The crossing will take you to the port of Marina Grande, with its pastel-coloured houses. From here, whether you decide to stay for an afternoon or two days, there is no shortage of ideas. You can lose yourself in the alleyways of the medieval village of Terra Murata; climb up to the former Palazzo d’Avalos penitentiary, the highest and most evocative point on the island; reach the church-convent of Santa Margherita Nuova, from where you can enjoy the view overlooking the Corricella, the romantic suburb that looks like an amphitheatre on the sea, with its colourful buildings and fishermen’s pier. And what about the beaches? A boat tour will help you discover even the most hidden ones. For sure these two are not to be missed: Chiaiolella, overlooking the Faraglioni rocks and Lingua beach, bathed by deep blue waters. 

In the ancient Baia: a sunken treasure

giro d'italia 8 archaeological park campi flegrei

Along the circuit circling Monte di Procida, a pretty little town in the Gulf of Naples overlooking the island of Procida, another stop is to be experienced as a tourist. The ancient Roman spa town of Baia, home to the Campi Flegrei Archaeological Park, is near Bacoli: there, geology and archaeology have created a unique atmosphere. Some of the most powerful figures of ancient Rome stayed in this place devoted to idleness and the dolce vita. The remains of their villas, to which several spas have been added over the centuries, can still be seen at the top of the promontory. But the most incredible part of this archaeological marvel is the one beneath the waters, driven over the centuries by the bradyseism: the Sunken City of Baia. This is a protected area where mosaics, traces of frescoes, sculptures, road layouts and columns are visible at a depth of just a few metres, with special boats equipped with windowed underwater keels. If you love scuba diving, you can enjoy the sunken park together with specialized tour guides. 

Amid the treasures of Naples

giro d italia 8 piazza del plebiscito

The long descent into the centre of Naples takes you straight to the seafront on Via Caracciolo, and then into the beautiful historic centre – named a Unesco World Heritage site in 1995. Where should you start visiting? Here too, you’ll be spoilt for choice, as notable landmarks include Piazza del Plebiscito, the city’s symbolic ‘lounge’; Galleria Umberto I, the elegant artery with its Renaissance façades and glass ceiling topped by a dome; Palazzo Reale, built in 1600 and home to a museum with a rich collection of tapestries, paintings, sculptures, porcelain, codices and miniatures. Last but not least, the San Carlo Theatre, the kingdom of opera in the world since King Charles of Bourbon had it built in 1737. Special features? Its perfect acoustics, its large exhibition area and its size: it is the largest in Europe, with a capacity of up to 1,386 spectators.

By the RCS Sport editorial staff