The Ancient Greeks and Classic Romans achieved many important milestones in science, politics, philosophy and many other fields but they are hardly credited for having invented tourism. We usually attribute the birth of tourism business to Industrial Revolution though 2000 years ago there were already holiday resorts in the Mediterranean Sea.
Discoveries and breakthroughs in medicine and science were precisely the reason why places like the Bay of Naples become very popular holiday destination during the Roman Republic. Ancient physicians couldn’t perform surgery but they knew that laughing, a healthy diet and certain environments were the best allies to defeat many illnesses and diseases.
The Romans were certainly famous for their terms and thermo-mineral bathing was one of their preferred treatments for aging symptoms -only the richest reached the golden age but it was just them who could afford travelling for leisure in those times. The first Roman holiday resorts were built around the healing properties of the many volcanic waters in the Italian Peninsula, next to the dangerous lands of Vulcan, the god of fire.
Baia, a small town close to Naples rich in sulfur springs, flourished as the ideal resort for the Roman elite, the Palm Spring of those times. Named after Ulysses’ captain Baius, this coastal village attracted patricians from all over the Empire and even the most notorious ones had villas and palaces built here. In Baia, Nero murdered his own mother Agrippina, Cicero recited his oratory to Julius Caesar and Caligula convinced the Senate it was time to restore the democratic elections.
All this area is charmingly beautiful, the slow sunny colorful Mediterranean dream we all born and bear in mind. Baia become so popular it was often called ‘the small Rome’.
2000 years have gone by and if you want to enjoy your summer like a patrician you should look for more modern accommodation because a great deal of Baia is underwater –oh, Vulcan. A tour around is a timeless journey to the golden age of Ancient Rome and a unique experience if you don’t mind diving. The underwater archaeology of Baia is one of a kind; expect beautifully preserved statues and mosaics under the clear turquoise waters of Baia.
Right on the other side of the Bay of Naples -but still under Vesuvius reach- the city of Pompeii stands as one of the best preserved examples of life during the Roman Empire. The tragedy that froze under tons of ash the citizens of Pompeii on August 24th 79 AD is UNESCO World Heritage and one of the most visited monuments in Italy. In a funny turn of events, the eruption happened one day after the Festivals of Vulcanalia, when Romans tried to please the god of fire for him not to burn their crops during the heat of the summer.
Pompeii is an absolutely must see, one of those visits every traveler must mark on his belt. It’s terribly popular so expect a fine line upon arrival. Anyway, if you have been thinking about going, you’d better book a trip for this summer because next one is supposed to be worse. In February 2014 it is going to be released the film Pompeii, the story of a slave fighting for his woman and his friends, featuring Kiefer Sutherland, Carrie-Anne Moss and Kit Harington (Jon Snow in ‘Game of Thrones’).
Ideal accommodation in the area for a 21st century patrician must boasts an infinity edge pool over killer views, a well-being oasis –terms if you may- and the best food and drinks. Add a chapel, charming gardens and truly helpful staff in the magical environment of a restored 12th century monastery and you can stay at Grand Hotel Convento di Amalfi.
If you want to keep it real and be surround by tech, glass and steel you can stay in NH Ambassador, right in the center of Naples. NH Ambassador is one of the tallest buildings in Naples and a landmark of the modern city with the best facilities and overwhelming views of the Bay of Naples; ones even Caesars couldn’t enjoy.