Just north of the Amalfi Coast is the Gulf of Naples, separated by the Sorrentine Peninsula. Dominated by the imposing sight of Mount Vesuvius, the Gulf is home to some of the best beaches, historical sites, food, and sightseeing on the Italian coastline.
Naples is one of the largest and oldest cities in the region, with a rich history spanning thousands of years. Naples’s historic city centre is a monument to the city’s 2800-year old history, with buildings and monuments dating back to its initial Greek occupation as the city-state of Neapolis, through the Roman period up to today, the area contains many churches, castles, plazas and old buildings to see.
Outside of Naples is Sorrento, a small town situated on a large, craggy hill. Moving through the town feels like mountaineering at times, and near the town’s centre you can get a good view of the abandoned 19th Century mills located down a huge chasm that spans the city, overcome by greenery. Traditional food and its unique black-sand beaches are another hallmark of the town.
Off the coast of Sorrento is Capri Island, another vertical town situated on an island with imposing cliff faces and geological marvels like huge arches, dark caves and pillars all around the island’s cliff-face. Great beaches, exquisite food and designer shops are all over the town centre, as well as a commanding view of the Gulf and its resident volcano, Mount Vesuvius.
Back on the coastline we have Pompeii and Herculaneum, two ancient Roman cities destroyed by an eruption in 79 CE. The volcanic ash and pyroclastic flows produced by Vesuvius have preserved these old towns for centuries until they were dug up in the 20th Century.
Pompeii is a perfect glimpse into the average Roman town with the town’s city plan, ancient murals, mosaics and in some cases people preserved since the eruption nearly 2000 years ago. Herculaneum is much the same, but the area was occupied by wealthier citizens and as such has some impressive architecture as well as more murals, paintings and mosaics that still impress visitors long after their creation.
Finally, there’s the volcano in the room – Mount Vesuvius is still active, alongside Mount Etna and Stromboli as one of Italy’s only active volcanos. Travelling to the summit is possible by hiking, but there’s several bus rides that can take you up close to the summit, where an astonishing view of the Gulf and the pit of the volcano is visible.
The Gulf of Naples is the place to visit for those who want to see Italy’s culture, cuisine and history in detail. The Gulf of Naples is a popular stopping point on a superyacht cruise, with You Charter Direct offering several cruises that pass by the area and other coastal attractions along the western Mediterranean.