Like Baia, the small island of Gaiola was also once a luxurious vacation spot for Roman aristocrats from the V century AC. It has gradually sunk and is now 6m under water. It once was at the tip of a promontory where villas and temples are now part of the archaeological treasures of this Marine Protected Area.
Scuba divers and snorkelers can admire the ancient fishing locales, the lily pond called “Scuola di Virgilio” and the walls of the former baths at Villa dei Pisoni.
The coral growths that now cover the roman ruins are of great interest and offer habitats to green and brown algae at the tips of the structures and precoralligenous growths like red algae below. Bryozoans and colourful sponges grow on the shadier walls. On the seabed between Gaiola and the Secca di Capo Posillipo you can see pillow coral like Cladocora caespitosa and at the Secca di Cavallara you can see white and yellow violescent sea-whip.
The Underwater Park
Founded in 2002, the Parco Sommerso extends 42 hectares underwater. 7 hectares, the area around the small island of Gaiola and the sandbar off Capo Posillipo at the entrance to the Gulf of Naples, are a zone A integral reserve. The area is protected by the Ministero dell’Ambiente for the extraordinary beauty of the seabed and the wide variety of marine habitats and also by the Ministero dei Beni Culturali because of the cultural and historical value of the archaeological remains. There are yellow buoys around the zone A integral reserve and yellow topmarks on shore. New rules and guidelines are currently being approved.
Soprintendenza peri beni archeologici delle
province di Napoli e Caserta (Ente gestore)
piazza Museo, 19 – 80135 Napoli
Capitaneria di Porto di Napoli
The closest berths are on the floating piers at the small recreational port Nisida, which has 400 depths and up to 25m draft. Naples is also very close by.