Not only is Rome’s Ostia a residential area with kilometres of beachfront, this town is renown as Rome’s ancient port city. Whilst heading south to the outskirts of Naples, the city of Pozzuoli is known for its steaming volcanic crater and ancient ruins.
Couldn’t wait to leave the campsite at Giannella after the hassle with the owner, which left a bad taste in my mouth. So, it was time to head further south to Ostia for a few nights, then onto Pozzuoli.
Lizzy (SatNav) behaved herself and arrived in Ostia as planned, and almost on time as a traffic issue around Fiumicino airport added an extra three-quarters of an hour onto the trip. Regardless, Reg pulled through and was a gem, again!
Distance: 160 kilometres
Diesel: €30 (€1.229/Litre)
Roads: E840, E80, SR296
Campsite: €25/night (including City Tax)
Camping Internazionale del Castelfusano – Good campsite, lovely helpful people, and such a great change from the last campsite. The site is across the road from the beautiful Mediterranean Sea. The town of Ostia is about 3 kilometres from the campsite and a nice flat walk. The site offers stunningly hot showers that await any tired traveller! The staff speak English, French, German, Spanish, and of course, Italian.
Sorry for the lack of Ostia photos – artist burnout!
Apparently in the summer, Ostia’s ambience is bustling with a carnival atmosphere. Rides, rented sun beds and deck chairs, stalls, and beach activities are locked up for the winter. The area resembles a ghost town at the moment and not what I would expect of a seaside resort town. Only 30 minutes from the Colosseum, you can see why this place is popular in the summer.
Founded in around 620 BC, explore many Roman ruins in Ostia Antica that date back to when the Roman Empire ruled the seas and the days when this town served as Rome’s port. Sadly, as several problems happened at once with Reg (starter motor, fresh water pump, and gas switch), there was no chance to really explore the ruins.
As it’s Sunday, the bus from the campsite (€1.50) to the train station (for the connecting bus) wasn’t running so walked the 2kms to the station.
The road along the seafront is a bit grotty with rubbish strewn about. Not sure if this is just the winter look and the summer look is cleaner. Apart from this, the seafront is a lovely walk.
Note: Passengers on buses in Italy don’t seem to have tickets or if they do, the ticket machines are not used to time-stamp their ticket. Trains however, are a different matter. Conductors walk rounds of the trains frequently and make people get off the train if they don’t have money to buy a ticket on board. I’ve heard (not sure if it’s true) that train conductors are on a commission so are passionate about getting non-ticket holders.
Food and shopping
- UniCoop Tirreno – Massive place and stocks everything; also for all your grocery needs.
- Autogrill (Tirreno Ovest 376 Cicitavecchia) – This chain is scattered along Toll roads. Good and larger than normal Italian Cappuccino (€1.60) served.
- Euroma2 Shopping Mall – Bus (€1.50 one-way) from the campsite takes you to this massive shopping where it seems that almost everyone in Rome frequents! The main reason for venturing here is to buy another electric heater for Reg as the current one is only running on one bar, following the mysterious death of the other bar (not even 3 months old yet). Found the Trony shop and bought a 4-bar halogen heater (€19.90).
- Oceano in Euroma2’s food court – Good coffee (€1.20)
- Rana in Euroma2’s food court – Wonderful fresh pasta stuffed with Gorgonzola and walnut sauce (€6.90). You can’t miss it as it’s rammed with locals and very loud! A 3-course menu of the day including drink and bread will set you back a reasonable €9.90.
Ostia to Pozzuoli
Left Ostia with Lizzy turned on only to find that today, she felt like misbehaving. A couple of times Lizzy took Reg through major towns and cities instead of bypassing these; so the paper map and Google Map route saved on the iPad saved the day.
Apparently setting the SatNav to bypass Toll roads and cities (i.e. longest route), literally means we’re taken down the longest route and sitting in traffic! A bloody headache and it was touch and go there but finally got to our destination in almost 5 hours, which should have only taken about 3 and a half hours. You have to remember, Reg is not a small zippy car. Reg is a 5.6-metre long, 2.2-metre wide, 2.9-metre high machine, weighing in at over 3 Tonnes. So, it’s a squeeze down narrow cobbled Italian alleyways.
You will drive through a few tunnels but not as many as in the northern part of Italy. The coastal route is pretty spectacular (if you’re not the driver!)
As you drive closer to Naples along farmlands, women seem to be scattered along the highway, sitting on crates or wooden boxes, next to long rushes – mostly African. If I hadn’t seen a Documentary on this some years ago, I would not have thought twice about what they were doing there, naively thinking they were waiting for a bus or lift (although not hitching). These ladies are “working”, which really is quite sad to see in reality. Their ‘workplace’ is amongst the long reeds off the main highway…and one can only imagine as dangerous!
Distance: 230 kilometres
Tolls: €0 – somewhat crappy roads; good reason for no toll fees
Roads: SR148, SR213, SS7
Fuel: €20 top-up (€1.239/Litre)
Campsite: €30/night including City Tax (increases to €33/night from the 24/12-8/01)
Volcano Solfatara – The campsite is in the volcano crater itself and there are walks to the bubbling active and smoking sulphur fumaroles, which is in spitting distance to your motorhome. It is a €7 entry fee to the volcano but free if you stay at the campsite. Depending which way the wind is blowing (but it seems especially at night), the sulphur scent does waft through Reg. Sometimes it’s strong and other times not too strong, but noticeable enough.
When you arrive, Ugo (Manager) hands you a bunch of brochures and maps, and is very helpful indeed.
Renown as the “mythical entrance to the Ancient Roman’s Hell”, if this isn’t enough to entice a visitor, then I’m not sure what is! Steaming jets of Sulphurous vapour run continuously at temperatures of 160°C; stand near one and you’ll understand why.
Apart from Sulphur extraction in the past until the 1800s, mineral waters, and natural saunas, this volcano is also legendary for its mud. Also, the Old Well (Pozzo dell’Acqua Minerale) is famous for its source of mineral water believed to have much powers to cure sterility and ulcers, since the Middle Ages.
Baia Museo Archeologico Campi Flegri, Baia Zona Archeologica, Cuma Scavi, and Pozzuoli Anfiteatro Flavio e Serapeo
Four sites to visit over 2 days when you buy a €4 ticket. Unfortunately, although this wasn’t a long walk from the campsite, we only found out about this place a couple of days before leaving and didn’t have enough time to see all 4 sites.
The day visit to Pozzuoli Anfiteatro Flavio e Serapeo is absolutely amazing and a must-see visit. This amphitheatre is the 3rd largest in Italy and has similar architecture to the Colosseum. Divided into three levels, the auditorium was allowed to accommodate up to 40,000 spectators, which gives you an idea of its size. At about 7 meters deep in the underground, you can still see parts of the gears used to raise cages, which housed the arena’s wild beasts. And as shows were also held here, the gears were probably used to raise the show’s film backdrops.
There are enough signs in English (and Italian) providing information that you don’t really need a guide to get around – I’d leave a couple of hours to really explore this site.
Food and shopping
- Pasticceria-CaffetteriaD’Angelo (Via Solfatara 22) – This place is amazing and always crammed with locals. The coffee is very good as is the service. The freshly daily baked pastries are excellent. Prices are pretty good for Italy – cheapest so far. You can buy freshly baked (on-the-premise) pastries from around €0.60+ or buy amazing delicacies by the kilo at €15.50 or €20/kilo. The Kenon coffee used here is wonderful and after weeks of visiting this place, the excellent quality for everything is consistently fantastic!
- Bar Grottino (Musto Pasquale Rampe Raffaello Causa) – Good coffee and pastries; frequented by artists as this is in the artist strip.
- Il Capitano Café (Lungomare Cristoforo Colombo 13) – Good strong Cappuccino (€2) and delicious pastries (€0.60+); trendy surrounds and good service.
- Cuba Libre Café American Bar (Viale Capomazza, 4/b) – Excellent pizzas (€5+), deserts (€4+) and main meals (€7+) – fantastic service, good ambience and friendly staff. Apart from the “Sala Pub Pizzeria” restaurant side, this great little place also has a Salad Bar, Gelato stop, and pastry area for a quick fix!
- Grandi Magazzini Aquisito Daber Supermercato (Via Anfiteatro 1) – Well stocked supermarket with average-priced groceries to stock up Reg – some great prices, some not so great prices – also stocks alcohol.
- IperCoop (Quarto Via Masullo 76) – A massive supermarket in a massive mall! You’ll spend a while here as there’s so much to choose from including kitchen ware and clothing, but most importantly groceries and scrumptious food items at better prices than the shops in Pozzuoli. It’s about 8kms from Pozzuoli and think a bus runs from the town that goes there but as we had a hired car over Christmas/new Year’s, it was easier to drive there and park. A coffee shop is also attached that serves good cheap Cappuccino (€1.10), pastries (€0.90+), and pizzas (€1.40+); great service!
- Conad (Via V San Gennaro 38) – Another well-stocked supermarket but smaller than Grandi. Prices are reasonable.
- Barletta Maria (Via Solfatara N.101) – This is a great little convenience store close to the campsite. You can get most basic items here but at a higher cost to the local supermarkets; there’s even a Deli bar with fresh bread here…of course!
Day trips to Naples
Pozzuoli is an excellent base to explore the city of Naples if you so desire, as it’s only about a 30-minute train ride from the campsite. So, ventured into Naples to explore on several trips but also to try and start the process for my Italian Citizenship.
Its comforting to know that we can leave Reg at this campsite and not have to worry about someone breaking in as the 24/7 security is very good.
Christmas in Pozzuoli!
Excited to buy loads of wonderful goodies and cook a roast chicken stuffed with garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, and Prosciutto in the little electric oven bought from Lidl’s, for the Christmas feast. And to accompany the bird are roast vegetables, and broccoli with a white sauce, would see us eating a delicious Christmas dinner!
Christmas day meant a sleep-in and breakfast at the new favourite haunt: Pasticceria-Caffetteria D’Angelo. An eager walk down the hill from the campsite soon saw us sitting outside at a little table, after fighting (exaggerating) our way into this tiny establishment.
Surprisingly on Christmas morning, this tiny shop is rammed with everyone in Pozzuoli buying wonderful gateaux and freshly baked Italian pastries, it really is a squeeze! Couldn’t resist and had to have the usual lovely coffee and several pastry morsels. Also had to buy small traditional pastries for Christmas dinner dessert.
After the little Brunch feast, decided to walk some of it off in preparation for the next mid-afternoon luncheon feast, so ventured around the town and up hills back to the campsite. Did I mention Pozzuoli is hilly?
I’m surprised that on this Christmas morning, the roads are very busy and streets full with locals. Shouldn’t people be at home opening presents?
The day after
Although the campsite started getting a few more motorhomes arriving yesterday, this is nothing compared to today – they’re pouring in! It appears that we’re in luck…a motorhome club entourage drove down from Modena (near Bologna), about 40 motorhomes! So far, about 30 motorhomes arrived. Needless to say, the very quiet campsite isn’t so very quiet anymore but hopefully should be fun! Everyone seems friendly enough. Although the Wi-fi is suffering severely and non-existent now.
Tip: If you’re planning on staying at this campsite over the Christmas/New Year period, this motorhome club travels down each year so it’s probably a wise move to book your spot in advance.
Spent the next few days just lazing around Pozzuoli as waiting on our guests Lorraine and Bob (aka kids – they’re younger than me) to arrive from the UK for a week of fun and frivolity. With a bungalow booked at the campsite at €108/night, I hope it’s cosy and warm!
New Year’s Eve celebrations and the week of frivolity with the kids is in another blog as we hired a car to drive around the Amalfi Coast and Naples, which is about an hour’s drive from Pozzuoli.
After moving out of the cosy bungalow, Reg is again home and parked back on a proper pitch again. A last quick run to the Quatro Supermall for groceries in the hired car before returning for afternoon tea at the site. Sadly, the Kids return to the UK; it’s been a great fun week with many laughs and much stirring!
Bob’s driving was excellent, especially considering Italian drivers are crazy; he drove exceptionally well. You only need to check out the cars on the road to quickly realize that about 99.99% of cars have some sort of dent, smash, ding, and/or scratch!
Oh and I’ve renamed this campsite Lake Solfatara; with all the unstoppable rain, the pitch is quite sodden!
I don’t think we really gave Pozzuoli a good chance as there’s much to see around here and you don’t have to travel very far until you bump into ancient ruins. There is also the Lago di Averno e Tempio di Apollo that still needs exploring.
The whole area has much to offer, especially in the way of amazing archeology. Although, this was not to be as I was so busy with visa extensions and Citizenship stuff. After spending almost 4 weeks around this area, failing to start the process for my Italian Citizenship, and with my 90-days Schengen visa expired, we had to hi-tail it out of Italy.
The long drive back through Italy and France for the ferry to the UK awaits us; some 2,300+ kilometres. The next chapter?