Scuba diving and history often go hand in hand but just about anyone visiting Italy can visit the sunken city of Baiae, the Ancient Roman equivalent of Vegas.
13-feet under the sea you can find the ancient city of Baiae, a city that Roman scholar, Varro, said was where, “old men behave like young boys, and lots of young boys act like young girls.”
Translation: “VEGAS, BABY!”
It’s just 20 minutes east of Naples by train in the Underwater Archaeological Park of Baiae. The park has five main scuba diving sites: “Portus Julius,” “Secca della fumose,” “Ninfeo di Claudio,” “Villa dei Pisoni,” and “Villa a Protiro.”
The main two that you have to see is the “Ninfeo di Claudio” and the “Villa a Protiro.”
At Ninfeo di Claudio, you’ll find 200m of paved road, steam bath foundations, and the statues of the nymphaeum. Emperor Claudius used to relax here! It should be noted that the statues are copies as the real ones are in an archaeological museum in the Castle of Baia, just above the dive site.
Villa a Protiro is the big one that most people visit. It’s an ancient Roman villa with a courtyard and a wonderfully preserved black and white mosaic floor. And yes, this is still the original mosaic floor.
You might have gotten this far and been wondering, “why is it underwater?” The reason for this is due to a process called bradyseism. This is a bit like an earthquake but where earthquakes move the earth horizontally, bradyseism moves the ground up and down.
The process seems to have occurred in two phases, once in the 3rd century and once in the 5th century. The lower part of Baiae was mostly submerged by the 8th century.
Now that international borders are opening, it might be the time to visit Baiae? Hopefully, this is a trip you would remember, unlike Vegas.
If you are looking for something a little closer to home, check out our list of exceptional places to visit in regional NSW.