Quite another case is nearby Pozzuoli, just north of Naples. It is so worn down by 2,500 years, so overlaid with bits and pieces of successive civilizations, that it is virtually impossible for the casual observer to recognize it as the important city of the ancient world that it was. Excavations are now going on and, ultimately, plans call for a museum, guided tours, and the wherewithal to help you appreciate ancient Pozzuoli, just as you do its Vesuvian cousins to the south. The project entails excavating and restoring a 200 x 240 meter area of the Rione Terra, the old city. Indeed an ambitious project
The city was founded in the middle of the sixth century b.c. by settlers from Greece. Like those who founded nearby Cuma and Parthenope (Naples) in those days along the same coast, these settlers also chose a strategic promontory for their city. They named their new home Dicaearchia ("Just Government"), a poetic name, presumably making a point about the place they had fled, the island of Samos, ruled by the tyrant Polycrates. As yet, archaeology has uncovered only the most fragmentary physical evidence of this ancient Greek city. Dicaearchia probably went into decline as its powerful neighbour, Cuma, became more and more powerful. This idea is supported by the Greek historian Strabo, who, in the first century before Christ, referred to the city (renamedPutèoli by the Romans) as a "fortress raised on a cliff" and as a "port of Cuma".
Around the year 300 b.c. much of the Campania area, including Pozzuoli, came under the domination of the Samnites, the mortal enemies of the Romans, who ruled south-central Italy. The Romans prevailed against Samnium and later against the Carthaginian, Hannibal, who lay siege to Pozzuoli in 215. Putèoli became a Roman colony in 194 b.c.
It is under the Romans that Putèoli comes into its own. (Putèoli was Latin for "little wells," referring to the many sulfur fumaroles in the area. It has given modern Italian the term pozzilli, the diminutive of "wells" and the name Pozzuoli for the city. The popular idea that the name of the city comes from a similar Latin word, puteo, meaning "smell," is cute, but wrong.) Cicero calls Putèoli "little Rome", and Seneca tells us that it was a world port, receiving fleets from around the Mediterranean, and, in turn, acting as a channel for Campanian exports such as wrought iron, marble, mosaics and blown glass. On his way to Rome, the Apostle Paul, himself, landed at Putèoli, where he was welcomed by the Jewish community