Travel Guides Crafted by Experienced Archaeologists & Historians

Art, History & Archaeology Sites & Museums

Campania and the Amalfi Coast is well known for its gulfs (Naples) and islands (Capri). And, it is in the Gulf of Naples that Mount Vesuvius is to be found – the World’s most dangerous volcano. There are four locations included on the UNESCO List of World Heritage sites, the historical centre of Naples, the archaeological area of Pompeii and Herculaneum, the Amalfi Coast, and the 18th century Royal Palace at Caserta. The Provinces in Campania are: Avellino, Benevento, Caserta, Naples and Salerno.

Naples in 3 Days with a Campania Museum Pass

Naples is a city that has so much to offer: history, culture, archaeology, art and good food. I have always wanted to visit the city and its surroundings, home to some of the world’s most significant archaeological sites, such as Pompeii and Herculaneum. Recently I covered Naples in 3 days by using the Campania Museum Pass. Which sites and museums are included? How much do you save compared to single entries? Is the number of sites that can be visited adequate for the days the Pass is valid? Do you have to wait in queues before entering? If you are curious about the answers to these and other questions, read on.

Archaeology & History Sites in Campania

Aragonese Castle of Baia

The Aragonese Castle in Baia, Italy, has a rich history.  The hill on which it was built, over-looking the gulf of Baia,  had a Roman residential complex, thought by some to have been the villa of Caesar. Construction of the castle began in 1495 by the Aragonese, shortly before the invasion of the area by the French. Over the centuries, the castle was expanded, fortified, and restored by various rulers, and had many function, from a military fortress, a prison for WW2 prisoners of war, a military orphanage. Since 1984 the castle has been home to the Museo archeologico dei Campi Flegrei.

Capodimonte Museum

In 1738 King Charles of Bourbon ordered the construction of the Royal Palace that today houses the Museum. It was initially founded as a hunting reserve, but ended up becoming one of the residences of the royal family, in which part of the Farnese Collection was exhibited from the very beginning. Already in the 18th century it was an obligatory stop for visitors to Italy, given the importance of the works on display. The Museum, opened on 5 May 1957, is one of the most important picture galleries in Europe, and houses in its 124 galleries numerous works by great names such as Botticelli, Michelangelo, Raphael, Caravaggio and Titian. In addition to these are extraordinary collections of porcelain and decorative arts, tapestries and royal furniture, as well as Roman sculpture.

Flavian Amphitheatre

The Flavian Amphitheatre in Pozzuoli is said to be the third largest Roman amphitheatre in Italy. Constructed during the first century AD, the amphitheatre is remarkably well preserved, with an interior that is mostly intact. Parts of the gears that were used to lift animal cages up on to the level of the arena can still be seen here. It is thought that this particular amphitheatre was built by the same architects that built the Colosseum in Rome – which was also known as the Flavian Amphitheatre.


The ancient city of Herculaneum, buried under 30 metres of ash and volcanic material in the eruption of 79 AD, was brought to light in 1738 under the reign of Charles of Bourbon. Excavations of the site were extremely demanding and concentrated on the area that once overlooked the sea. The visit allows you to move between the ancient streets on which the various craft and commercial activities opened, and the entrances to the domus. Some places such as the Palestra, which remains partly buried and accessible through a gallery, or the College of the Augustales, in which painted scenes of the myth of Hercules survive.


The archaeological site of Pompeii is one of the most well-known and much visited sites in the world. Pompeii was a Roman city that was buried under four to six metres of volcanic ash from the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. The site has been a tourist destination for about 250 years, and today over 2.5 million people visit each year making this one of the most popular attractions in Italy. For conservation reasons, only a fraction of the site is open to the public – but there is still much to see of the Roman city, including theatres, the amphitheatre, the forum, bath houses and residences with exquisite wall paintings.

Roman Santa Maria Capua Vetere - Capua

The modern-day town of Santa Maria Capua Vetere is the location of the ancient city of Capua. Although the ancient features of the city relate to the Roman and medieval periods, the area was occupied as far back as the Bronze Age. Because of the town’s wealth and beauty, Cicero referred to Capua as Altera Roma – the second Rome. Remaining Roman features include the amphitheatre and Hadrian’s Arch. There are two local museums: Museo Archeologico Campano and Museo Archeologico dell’Antica Capua.

Royal Palace of Caserta

When people think of the most majestic and imposing Royal Palaces, they cannot but think of the Royal Palace of Caserta. King Charles of Bourbon commissioned the architect Luigi Vanvitelli to design a residence that would surpass even the Palace of Versailles in beauty. The foundation stone was laid on 20 January 1752, and it was completed in 1845. Inside, all the rooms that hosted the royal family and animated court life can be visited, such as the Apartments, the Throne Room, the Theatre, the Palatine Chapel and the Royal Staircase, while outside, visitors can stroll and relax in the vast, well-kept gardens.

Royal Palace of Naples

At the beginning of the 17th century, Viceroy Fernando Ruiz de Castro, due to the imminent visit of King Philip III of Habsburg to Naples, began construction of the new Royal Palace, entrusting the architect Domenico Fontana with the project. King Charles of Bourbon chose it in 1734 as his royal residence, and it was only in 1858 that the palace was given its final appearance. The visit allows you to explore the different rooms of the Royal Apartments, such as the Court Theatre, the Chapel and the Throne Room, reached via the Staircase of Honour, which Montesquieu described as the most beautiful in Europe.

Sansevero Chapel

The origins of the Chapel date back to 1613, when it was erected at the behest of Alessandro di Sangro, while its current appearance is due to Raimondo di Sangro, seventh prince of Sansevero, who conceived the entire iconographic design. The space, consisting of a single nave, houses funerary sculptures dedicated to the family’s ancestors in the side chapels, while the sculptural groups leaning against the pillars are dedicated to the women of the family, representing the various virtues. The complex is a concentration of Neapolitan Baroque, rich in symbolism and detail, and one of the most important museums in Naples. It houses the ‘Veiled Christ’, a sculpture by Giuseppe Sanmartino, which is the most famous masterpiece among the Chapel’s many works.

Velia - Parco Archeologico di Elea-Velia

Velia was a major city of Magna Graecia, and one of two that are in the Cilento and Vallo di Diano National Park – the other being Paestum. The Cliento region was at the boundary between the indigenous Etruscan and Lucanian peoples to the north and the Greek colonies that made up Magna Graecia. Numerous remains of the ancient city are preserved, including a theatre, roads, and the city walls and gates. Bricks and stone from the early Greek buildings were later re-used by the Roman and medieval communities. Visitors can take a self guided tour of the main features of the city.

Museums & Art Galleries in Campania

Archaeological Museum of Campi Flegrei

In a recently restored 15th century Aragonese Castle, that once guarded the Gulf of Pozzuoli, is the Museo archeologico dei Campi Flegrei. The Campi Flegrei, or burning fields, is a large volcanic area that is now a national park. And it was the many volcanic thermal springs in the area that attracted people in antiquity. On display in the museum are a number of reconstructions of shrines and temples, some of which are now submerged, from the area.

National Archaeological Museum of Naples

The Museum is the most important in the world for Roman painting, and was founded in 1816. The original nucleus of the collection is due to King Charles of Bourbon, who promoted excavations in Pompeii and Herculaneum and brought part of the Farnese collection inherited from his mother to Naples. There are many famous finds to admire, such as the Alexander Mosaic or the bronzes from the Villa of the Papyri, while the collections display Roman mosaics and frescoes, Egyptian artefacts and those from Magna Graecia, as well as entire sections dedicated to prehistory and protohistory, epigraphy and numismatics, concluding with the Farnese Collection, which includes the famous sculptures of Hercules and Bull.