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On the way to Procida – visiting Benevento and Pouzzoli.

 

I’d already been to Procida in Campania, but after a few years since my first stay, it was good to go back and see if anything has changed. After visiting in October last year, I have to state that things in Procida were pretty different than 8 or 9 years ago.

But before going to Procida, we popped into Benevento, which has a reputation for being elegant and different from the rest of Campania. I don’t know if it’s elegant, but I didn’t feel like I wasn’t in Campania. It actually felt like a suburb of Naples as the town is only 50 km from Naples.

narrow-street-between-old-houses
One of the streets in Benevento.

 

Is Benevento worth visiting? Yes, why not, there are some things to see. Is Benevento a place to stay for a few days? Not for me, but as usual everyone has different tastes and ideas on how to spend their free time.
Benevento is like an open-air museum because there are Roman, Samnite, and Lombard remains.

ruins-of-the-ancient-wall-against'the backgroung-of-new-houses
Benevento is like an open air museum.

What to see in Benevento

Wandering around the historical center will be hard not to notice the Arch of Trajan. It was built during the period from AD 114 – AD 166. According to what I’d heard, the arch is the best preserved Roman arch in Italy.

an-ancient-arch
The Arch of Trajan in Benevento.

 

Roman Theater of Benevento (you have to buy a ticket, which costs 2 euros) was built tine the II nd century BC.  This worth visiting impressive structure, still in good condition could accommodate 15.0000 people.

ancient-ampitheater
Roman Theater of Benevento

ancient-ampithetre

Church of Saint Sophia was closed. It’s another funny thing in Italy, which is a catholic country and where, at least in theory, churches should be accessible to the public. They are not, they are usually closed and open at specific hours, for example for masses. I’m an atheist and my interest in churches is not religious at all. However I like to visit churches (from time to time) because many of them are impressive and beautiful architectural masterworks. Church of Saint Sophia is the house  of the exhibition of canvases from the 16th and 17th centuries.

At the top of the town, you can see th Csstle of Benevento (Rocca dei Rettori) which consists of a sturdy stone tower built in the 9th century and an adjoining small palace added in the 14th century. The position of the castle enabled it to keep watch on the routes that entered the town.

After lunch we drove to Pouzzoli.  

We stayed in a small hotel there, which was just okay for one night. In the evening we went for a walk, actually to see if we could park somewhere close to the port, from where we had a ferry to the island.

ancien-columns-in-the-evening-against-the-background-town
Pouzzoli in the evening.

 

We left the hotel after 8 am as the ferry was around 10 am. Mauro wanted to avoid the disappointment of sold-out tickets to the island. It was October, but the weather was great, and it was Sunday, so the ferry could potentially be full. And it was.

But firstly, a short story about the parking lot.

Finding a park in Italy is always a challenge. For Mauro thought, it’s a double challenge because he always wants to find one for free. Italians don’t like paying for parkings. I find this quite annoying, especially when we’re driving around trying to park. Unfortunatelly he’s the driver, so I don’t tell him what to do. 

Anyway, the night before when we went to the port, we saw a free car park not far from it. Mauro was delighted. We went to the same parking in the morning and a surpise was waiting for us. There was a self-appointed parking guard (a black guy in this case, but that’s not the rule). This is a very common practice in the south of Italy. In places where you can park for free, suddenly there are people who “allow” you to park for a small fee.

I know the unemployment rate in the South is high, and I know people are trying to make some money. And I also know that this kind of ‘activity’ is often linked to the mafia. But I hate this bloody business. What more, I hate that the Italians just pay people who have no right to earn money from free services. For many Italians, it’s absolutely acceptable and a normal situation. For me, it’s not.

I got pissed and started arguing with the guy. Mauro became concerned that he might do something to the car, but we parked anyway. Then walked to the port where Mauro filed a complaint with the local police. And what did the police do? Well, the policemen shrugged their shoulders. And he said that they knew there was a problem with the guy doing illegal business…  And advised us to park near the port. So we did it. Of course, we didn’t give the self-proclaimed parking guard a dime, but as we drove out of the parking lot, we were pelted with insults.

What we did in Procida you can read in the next post.

 

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