Why should you go to Baia?
Baia, or Baiae to the Romans, was the place to which rich Romans went on holiday. It had an appalling reputation for licentious behaviour among some of the Roman writings which have come down to us but we should consider the possibility that those authors might have been jealous. It was probably no worse than the equivalent Georgian or Victorian spa town. Unlike its Victorian equivalent, the view from Baia is outstanding.
The site which survives and is open to the public is small, it is thought to comprise no more than three establishments, all of which used the naturally sulphurous, hot water which emerges from the hills behind the town. There is still an establishment in the town which uses this source of water in its spa.
It is difficult to understand the site but the northern end was definitely a bath with a large dome over the hottest area. It is unclear what happened in the central and southern sections however part of the central section appears to be a set of rooms with a sea view and it is possible that these were hired out to holiday makers so that they could bask in the sun and enjoy the view of the Bay of Naples. The site is complicated by the land having sunk by 4 metres since Roman times so that the lower sections of the excavations could not be recovered. It is possible to take a tour of that part of the town which is now underwater using a glass bottomed boat but this takes place from the port, not from the site.
This site involves a lot of steep steps, it is not appropriate for those unsteady on their feet. Theoretically, most days of the week, the site closes at 13.00 hrs. It is closed all day on Mondays.
How to get there
The entrance to the excavations is at the top of the site and the nearest station is Fusaro on the Cumana Line. The author has advised elsewhere on this website that the Cumana Line can be erratic, in practice he has not had a single journey on the Cumana Line which has not suffered a delay or an administrative failure. It is possible that he has just been unlucky. At the time of writing (June 2018) there is a single new train on the line so things might be improving but the trains on which the author has travelled were both extensively coated with graffiti and unreliable.
It has been mentioned elsewhere on this website that, whilst the ticket office at Montesanto Station will know all of the stations on the Cumana Line, ticket offices elsewhere on the network which serves Naples quite often don't. Whilst visiting Baia the author had to spend two and half minutes trying to persuade, in Italian, a member of the ticket office staff on the Circumvesuviana that there really is a station called Fusaro and that he really did want to travel on the Cumana Line. The author left that ticket office having been given the impression that he was not going to enjoy the Cumana Line. To be honest, that trip was no worse than any previous visit to the Cumana Line. If you are planning to visit Baia from one of the more distant reaches of the suburban system it is probably best to print off a map of the line and to mark the station on the map. We have provide a link to a map in the trains section of this website.
The station which you need is Fusaro and I strongly advise you to buy tickets for both the outward journey and the return journey when you start. The ticket office at Fusaro was closed when the author needed to return and you must have a valid ticket to ride on the train. It looked as though the ticket office was often closed. If you buy two tickets, the ticket is only valid once it has been time stamped by either an entry gate to the station or by a machine on the station, one ticket is stamped for the outward journey and the other is stamped when you start your return journey. At Fusaro the stamp machine is on the wall near the ticket office, it is orange. Normally when you visit a staion in which there is no ticket office, or it is closed, a local shop or newspaper stall will sell you a ticket, Fusaro does not have a convenient shop or stall.
Fusaro Station is not too far from the entrance to the site at Baia but it is a steady climb up hill. The exit from the station is beside the front of the train as you come from Naples and the road leads in a very short time to a junction which is dominated by an old building with large gates. A nearby notice informs the passer that it is owned by the district of Bacoli. Turn right at this point and commence the steady but slight climb up hill. After a period of time the road will veer to the right and the climb will steepen, continue on up the road and continue straight on as you pass the Joy Cafe. At the top of this road you will see that you are at what appears to be a T junction but is actually a road coming in from the right into a one way system. Follow the one way system around to the left and then turn immediately right to continue climbing up hill for very short distance. Once you have reached the top of the hill the entrance to the excavations is about 50 yards down on the right hand side of the road. The entrance has gates and a sign.
When you have seen all that you wish to see of the excavations at Baia it is possible that you may wish to descend to the modern town in order to find some refreshment, there is a flight of steps immediately to the right of the entrance to the site as you leave which descends to the town. The car park for the port area is across the road at the bottom.
The author last completed the journey described in June 2018.