Tuesday, September 15, 2015


September 12 , 2015

The Saturday Night Session of the Rome West Stake Conference was held in Pozzuoli.  Until a few months ago, we held zone conference there.  Since the Napoli Branch has moved to a new location, it is more convenient to hold it in Napoli. 


Founded as the Greek Cumaean colony known as Dicaearchia, the bustling port town of Pozzuoli thrived during Roman times when it was known as Puteoli. Its name derives from the abundance of thermal and mineral springs as well sulfurous springs whose unmistakable odour permeated the area (and still does), mostly from the Solfatara. Whether it comes from the Latin putere – to stink  or the Greek “Pyteolos” meaning “little wells” however, is unclear.

St. Paul docked at Pozzuoli and stayed for seven days before making the arduous journey to Rome along the Appian way. A few centuries later, Naples Patron Saint, San Gennaro was martyred at the amphitheater in Pozzuoli.

And of course, Sophia Loren lived in the vicinity with her grandmother when bombs rained down during World War II.

Tragedy struck again in October of 1983 when an earthquake damaged thousands of structures and displaced nearly 40,000 residents.
Today, contemporary blends with the ancient world. Signs along Pozzuoli’s roads will point you to a number of Roman ruins. The Temple of Neptune overlooks the sea with its mammoth dome peeking out from the dirt. Other signs lead through a narrow tunnel and then along a road next to the Neocropoli Romana. Hidden behind overgrown weeds, the locals walk by this ancient cemetery as though the ghosts inside are simply amicable neighbors. Further up the hill is the Flavian Amphitheater and near the waters edge, are the remains the old Roman marketplace, better known as the Temple of Serapis.

Pozzuoli is known for the odd habit the city has of slowly rising, sinking, then rising again in its entirity--an effect called bradyism that is caused by the underlying volcanic activity (the city has risen over 11 feet in the past 30 years).

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Temple of Serapide

The tempio di Serapide in Pozzuoli, near Naples, in the Camp Flegrei of Campania

In a palm-shaded and sunken park at the center of town by the harbor lies the romantically half-flooded "Temple of Serapide." This is not actually a temple as was long believed, but rather the marketplace of the AD 1st-century city, marked by three standing columns and a ring of column stubs surrounding a raised circular dais.

You can see evidence of bradyism at work here: those columns were once further under the water that still pools at the bottom of this archaeological site. The bottom 10 feet of column were buried under the mud of the sea floor (and hence are smooth), the next six feet or so were underwater (hence the pockmarks left by clinging mollusks) and the rest stuck above into clean air (smooth again). The columns (along with the rest of town) probably heaved those 16 feet up during a nearby eruption in 1538.

Temple of Serapide

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Paul Landed in Pozzuoli

The next day a wind began to blow from the south, and in two days we came 
to the town of Puteoli. We found some believers there who asked us to stay 
with them a week. And so we came to Rome.
(Acts 28:13-14 on Saint Paul’s journey to Rome to stand trial.)

Steeple of church erected where Paul landed.

Marker on spot where Paul landed.

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Temple of Neptune

This rather impressive, although pretty much ruined, structure is tucked away in the upper part of Pozzuoli. Its size, along with the huge amphitheatre and the fact that much of excavated the Roman town lies some distance away, gives clear indication of just what a wealthy and busy place this once was.

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