Outside of Rome and south of Italy, the most popular attraction that Italy has for tourists is the area surrounding the Bay of Naples. The Bay of Naples opens westward to the Mediterranean Sea, making it a perfect getaway in the months of the humid Italian summer. Many summer resorts thrive along the shores of this bay.
One such summer resort is the town of Sorrento. The town sits on the tip of the Sorrentine Peninsula, east of the Bay of Naples. A favorite summer spot among Italians and attracting many famous celebrities, Sorrento offers a dramatic view of the Bay of Naples, the island of Capri, Mr. Vesuvius and the city of Naples itself, especially from the cliffs.
The summer resorts, however, are not the only wonders sitting so near the Bay of Naples. Mt. Vesuvius stands majestic east of it, with the ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum lying at its feet. Brought to fame by its most noted eruption in AD 79, the eruption that buried Pompeii and Herculaneum, Mt. Vesuvius is the only active volcano in the European mainland. Its last eruption, however, was in 1944 and it is now showing signs of going into dormancy. Mt. Vesuvius is now a national park, with many tourists daring to go on various treks up to the volcano’s summit and crater.
At the foot of Mt. Vesuvius are the ancient sister-cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum, the ruins of which were frozen in time under hardened lava, ash and volcanic mud when the volcano erupted in AD 79. Before it was laid to ruin and forgotten for centuries, Pompeii was a rich and lively place, a place where Romans spend their holidays away from Rome. Excavations in Pompeii have revealed well-preserved buildings and artifacts, giving people living today a glimpse of how it was to live during the days of the Roman Empire.
The same goes with the city of Herculaneum, the city dedicated to the hero Hercules in Greek mythology. Though Herculaneum is smaller than Pompeii, excavations have revealed it to be a wealthier city than its sister. The buildings were just as well-preserved as those in Pompeii. There are so many things to see in these two cities in a hike through them.
And then, of course, is the city of Naples, the jewel of the Bay of Naples. Naples, or Napoli in Italian, is the largest city south of Italy, just next to Rome in size. The city of Naples was once the capital of the old Kingdom of Naples. It is a vibrant and cosmopolitan city, rich in culture and history. In Naples alone, there are some 400 historical churches, palaces and castles that visitors to the city can explore. Naples is also the home of the original pizza, and an authentic pizza in Naples is one that is baked in a wood-burning oven.
While Rome is the obvious choice for most tourists going on a holiday in Italy, the Bay of Naples is certainly a good alternative to the Roman holiday.
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