Anyone who knows me knows I have a wanderlust. There are even books written about my travel adventures.
My latest voyage took me to six countries in and around the Mediterranean, including two I’d never been to before. One of our destinations was Naples. Having been to Pompeii and Vesuvius on a previous visit to this part of Italy, we decided to stay inside the UNESCO World Heritage Zone of the city.
Or should I say, under it?
Centuries before the eruption of Vesuvius that destroyed the Roman town of Pompeii, the Greeks delved into the roots of the Earth beneath Neapolis (as Naples was called at the time) to quarry stone from which to build the city and its walls.
Later, the Romans excavated over 250 miles of tunnels connecting the Greek quarries. This produced a vast underground system of cisterns and aqueducts, which stretched as far Pompeii and beyond.
For centuries, hundreds of wells tapping into these subterranean reservoirs provided Naples with water.
In 1884, a cholera epidemic resulted in the aqueduct being permanently closed. Over the following decades, the wells instead became a convenient place for Neapolitans to dispose of their garbage.
During the Second World War, the tunnels were given a new lease of life, as air-raid shelters.
More recently, the Associazione Napoli Sotterranea has begun re-excavating some of the refuse-clogged tunnels, and providing tours of some of the newly-accessible spaces and passages.
Exploring the ancient underground labyrinth well over 100 feet beneath the city, was certainly the highlight (or more literally, low lightless) of our day in Naples!
Expand your child’s mind (and your own) by travelling the World with the Jaspa’s Journey adventure novels! The first two, The Great Migration and The Pride of London, are now available in both paperback and ebook formats from Speaking Volumes! The third instalment, Jaspa’s Waterloo, is coming soon. Click here for more information.