Steeped in ancient myths, Campania is the historic region of Southern Italy which lies closest to Rome. Legends claim this is where Aeneas entered Hades at the Lago d'Averno, and where Icarus fell to earth in the Phlegraean Fields. Though harder evidence exists for the colossal damage wrought by Vesuvius, its impact has been equally dramatic. This region was known to the Romans as 'campania felix' – 'happy land' – and the city's elite colonised the shores of the Bay of Naples with their villas, palaces and estates. The area's Roman remains still draw today's tourists, who stay on to admire and enjoy the mild climate, magnificent coastlines and idyllic islands.
The Bay of Naples, and the city itself, dominate and define Campania and form a significant part of its appeal. Naples alone houses countless historic and cultural treasures, with the priceless Roman remains of Pompeii and Herculaneum, overlooked by Vesuvius, nearby. Northwest, the steamy volcanic Phlegraean Fields lie next to the ocean, whilst the magical islands of Procida, Ischia and Capri await visitors out in the bay. Being smaller, Capri always seems busy yet cannot be ignored because of its beauty. Ischia, with its lush vegetation and thermal springs, is much larger and has a host of attractions for tourists to enjoy.
At the southern end of the bay, the Sorrento Peninsula, a popular holiday destination, perches on tuff rock formations with cultivated terraces of citrus, olives and vines sweeping down to the shoreline. Further south, on the far side of the peninsula, the resorts, villages, plunging cliffs and dramatic vistas of the glorious Amalfi Coast are waiting to welcome tourists to this renowned Mediterranean jewel. Continuing south along the coast, the port of Salerno has an historic and well-preserved old town centre, and is also close to Paestum, a Greek archaeological site.
Campania's walking trails are among the most beautiful on our planet: the Amalfi Coast offers stunning natural beauty, the Sorrento Peninsula affords panoramic seascapes, the unspoilt Cilento National Park allows walkers to get close to nature, and picturesque villages can be encountered everywhere. The region's beautiful beaches will appeal to swimmers and sunbathers, and the clear offshore waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea are perfect for sailing, scuba diving and watersports. Other activities widely available include freshwater- and sea-fishing, tennis and cycling, and Campania also has many fine golf courses.
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