Baia Wave Living Lab 2021

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Area Baia
Place Bacoli
Country Italy
Topics Volcanic, rural and archeological
Author(s) M. Errico, F. De Falco, G. Gagliardi, and L. Ossuto
WAVE Baia.jpg


  • The marine waters with their temperatures, the environment of flora and fauna, have characteristics that in part also depend on the volcanic nature of our places
  • The volcanic nature of the Phlegraean Fields means that the sea water, after the descent and ascent into the subsoil, emerges warm and enriched with chemical and mineralogical components that give it the well-known healing properties.
  • The main challenge of this area is to overcome the phenomenon of marginalization, which mainly affects inland areas, due to the scarcity of infrastructures and services. By encouraging this development, it is possible to enhance the points of interest and improve the quality of life of the residents.

Location and scope

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Water as a natural system

Geomorphology, typologies and dynamics of water areas

  • Our area is in the territory of the Phlegraean fields, the area is a large caldera in a quiescent state, with a diameter of 12-15 km. In this circuit there are numerous craters and small volcanic elements, some of which present effusive gaseous manifestations (area of ​​the Solfatara) or hydrothermal. Another phenomenon is the bradyseism, in fact important deposits of volcanic origin are visible throughout the area such as the Campanian Gray Tufo or the Tufo Yellow. Also, in the area there are lakes of volcanic origin and coastal lakes originated by barrage.
  • The area of the Phlegraean fields has always been subject to "flash floods", which plaguing the territory with torrential rains, the cause of which is Monte Epomeo, located on a small island near the area, Ischia. The phenomenon is due to atmospheric perturbations from the Tyrrhenian Sea that reach Pozzuoli from Ischia. Monte Pomeo causes a sudden rise in the humid sea air, condensing the water vapor which becomes rain and spills violently in the Phlegraean area.
  • Over the centuries, bradyseism has caused much of the ancient evidence to collapse, almost to link even more the Phlegraean Fields and water, its generator element. A few meters below sea level, along the shores of lakes Lucrino, Averno, Miseno and Fusaro, the remains of imposing walls emerge, and where before the rich Romans were the lords, the octopuses and moray eels are now the rulers.
  • Baia, and in general the Phlegraean fields, are unthinkable without "water". Water wrote the history of Baia. Water is multifaceted: it is landscape, it is history, it is archeology, it is economy, it is culture!

Water as a living space

  • To analyze the habitat in our water area we analyze the area of ​​the submerged park of Baia, where most of the marine organisms proliferate and find shelter. It is made up of the submerged archaeological structures. These ones, in fact, emerge from a sandy bottom at times colonized by seagrass meadows, such as Cymodocea nodosa and Posidonia oceanica. As it's known, marine phanerogams, and in particular Posidonia oceanica, represent a fundamental habitat for the Mediterranean, being considered “nursery” areas for many forms of life. Among the ravines of walls and colonnades there is a great variety of organisms of a "rocky" environment such as octopuses, small crustaceans and rock fish including serranids, wrasses and blennids that wander undisturbed among the remains of buildings and submerged roads. They are ideal adhesion surfaces for more sedentary organisms, such as algae, sponges, anemones, sea urchins and starfish.
  • The quality of the water in the Baia area is classified as 3 - excellent quality. In particular for the part where it is possible to swim like the castle of Baia's beach. Instead, talking about the "Stufe di Nerone", in the northern part of Baia, its waters are chemically classified as salso-bromine-iodine, containing fluorine and strontium which arise at a temperature of about 74 °, and therefore with therapeutic properties. Besides having an invigorating and anti-inflammatory character, they give particular benefit to all forms of arthrosis, rheumatism, respiratory tract diseases, stomatitis, vaginitis, juvenile acne and, in particular, fight female infertility.
  • On the side of the coast of Baia there are the submerged remains of the commercial ports of Baia (Lacus Baianus) and the Portus Julius. On the south of the area there was the port of Capo Miseno, the historical seat of the Roman imperial fleet. The extraordinary value of these sites is given both by the remarkable state of conservation of the archaeological remains and by their objective historical archaeological value. Mosaics, traces of frescoes, sculptures, road layouts and columns are submerged about 5 meters below sea level among starfish anemones and schools of damselfish. Instead, talking about the "Stufe di Nerone", there we have artificial baths, in fact a piece of exedra in cement work is still visible today, with remains of plaster.

Blue and Green Infrastructure

  • As an introduction, we could say that the concept of Green Infrastructure describes a category of artifacts, technologies and practices that use natural systems, or man-made systems that simulate natural processes, with the aim of improving general environmental quality and providing public utility services. Generally, Green Infrastructure use the soil and vegetation for the infiltration, evapotranspiration and / or recycling of rainwater. When they are used as components of rainwater management systems, green infrastructures, such as green roofs, permeable pavements , rain gardens, and green trenches can provide a variety of environmental benefits. In addition to allowing rainwater sedimentation and infiltration, these technologies can simultaneously help to reduce air pollutants, reduce energy demand, mitigate the effect of the urban heat island and retain carbon monoxide while offering the aesthetic benefits communities and green spaces.
  • Multi-functionality is central to the green infrastracture concept and approach. It refers to the potential for green infrastructure to have a range of functions, to deliver a broad range of ecosystem services. Multi-functionality can apply to individual sites and routes, but it is when the sites and links are taken together that we achieve a fully multi-functional green infrastructure network. In fact, for this reason, the green infrastructure is characterized as a "network of networks".
  • Therefore, the green infrastructure is a system of networks which in the case of Baia, being a fraction of the municipality of Bacoli, represents a constellation that certainly includes a network of historical assets (consisting of the main finds of historical-archaeological interest), a network of public use (consisting of the Fondi di Baia and the numerous paths of scenic interest), a network of agricultural fabric (which constitutes most of the innermost area) and an ecological network. In particular, the latter is characterized by an agricultural buffer zone that separates the Fondi di Baia from the inhabited center, and allows you to take advantage of panoramic views and green areas of landscape through paths in the higher altitude areas as this is a territory mainly volcanic. Over the time the gray infrastructures which have determined the systems of pollution and marginalization have been more intensified. In fact, the connection between the various networks and within the networks themselves should certainly be encouraged not only from a quantitative but also from a qualitative point of view, in fact, unfortunately very often some areas, even of historical interest, are difficult to reach through pedestrian or traffic areas.

Water as a cultural space

Land use and water

  • Since the end of the Republican age, Baia has been one of the most fashionable holiday resorts for Roman aristocrats. Rich villas were built here, of which numerous vestiges remain; however, part of the archaeological complex remains below sea level, which collapsed due to bradyseismic phenomena. This resource still has value today: as it can be seen from the cartography shown, in fact, the coast has been equipped with infrastructures and residential buildings since the 1930s. Then this trend spread to the hinterland, a prevalent agricultural use, especially with the building speculations of the 1970s. Today the urban morphology of our area appears quite chaotic and does not follow any regular path.
  • Therefore, the coast goes from being a holiday resort for the Romans to a holiday place for us still today. In addition, technological development has determined the infrastructural development resulting in a progressive increase in the extension of the tourist company. In particular, tourism pours on the one hand on the archaeological aspect but also on the naval and ichthyic aspect due to the presence of one of the ports with the greatest connection to the islands of Ischia and Procida. The project that includes the completion and redevelopment of the Baia station and the recovery of the old route of the Cumana Railway is certainly important with the creation of a small linear urban park that connects the new station with the center through a mechanized path in the green. Urban interventions that allow us to foresee a future development of ever greater flows.

Cultural and spatial typologies of water areas

  • The urban morphology of our area is quite chaotic and does not follow any regular path. In the past, the first settlements were born along the coastal part of our area. In particular, in addition to the sea, another type of water that is very present and which has been one of the main attractive factors is the thermal water of which today in our area you can still see some finds such as the Temple of Mercury contained within the park archaeological site of the thermal baths of Baia. Today the major industrial production activities are concentrated in the coastal area. The stretch of coast between the Castello di Baia and the submerged park of Baia is mainly a port area where the fish trade takes place. We have the presence of numerous industrial warehouses for shipyards, moreover the port is also at the service of tourists. The beach characterizes the second part of the coast that starts from Castello di Baia, in this area there are small strips of beach and there are numerous tourist activities such as hotels, farmhouses, B & Bs and restaurants. Along the coast, the buildings and settlements have sprung up on the sides of the road and are mainly intended for commercial activity. This road runs along the entire coast and divides the inland settlements, from a portion of green agriculture, from the coastal settlements. In the green area there are small residential villages serving agricultural areas.

Sacred spaces and heritage

The countless points of interest in the Phlegraean area are not only recognized as a cultural heritage by UNESCO but are also characterized by a strong emotional aspect that binds them to the culture and history of the local inhabitants.


The Cocceio Cave is a Roman age tunnel cut into the tuff bank of Mount Grillo. It connects the center of the ancient city of Cuma and the shores of Lake Averno. The gallery takes its name from the architect Lucio Cocceio Aucto who designed it in 38-36 BC, along with other underground connections in the Phlegraean area. Under the principality of Augustus, the gallery loses its military character and it is converted to civilian use. In this phase, was open a diverticulum, near the entrance from Cuma, which probably led to the city's Amphitheater. The gallery is also connected to a branch of the Augustan Serino aqueduct. The tunnel, entirely dug into the tuff, has a straight course, for a total length of about 1 km, an average width of 5-6 m and a maximum height of up to 12 m. It had to be illuminated and ventilated by 9 wells of light that open in the center of the vault. The tunnel was excavated in the Bourbon period and subsequently used as a road route. It was used as an ammunition depot during the Second World War and also it suffered serious damage from the explosion caused by the retreating German troops. Another peculiarity of the monument is that of it is hosting a colony of bats of great conservation value, consisting of five species in danger of extinction.


The construction of the first castle dates back to 474 BC. under the name of Castrum Gironis, or "castle of Girone", in honor of its founder. In that year, in fact, the Greek Gerone I, known as the tyrant of Syracuse, helped the Cumans with his fleet in the war against the Tyrrhenians, contributing to their defeat off the waters of Lacco Ameno. Debtors of this intervention, the Cumans then decided to reward the ally by giving him the whole island. The fortress was then occupied by the Partenopei, but in 315 BC. the Romans managed to wrest control of the island from them and founded the colony of Aenaria. The Castle was used as a defensive fort and some houses and high towers were also built there to monitor the movement of enemy ships. In the following centuries the fortress of Gerone was radically transformed, in order to serve as a safe refuge for the population against various looting. Subsequently, the modern appearance of the castle is due to the Aragonese: a quadrangular solid, with walls equipped with four towers. Alfonso V of Aragon had a wooden bridge built that connected the islet to the main island, and powerful walls and fortifications were also built inside which almost all the people of Ischia found refuge and protection during pirate raids. Inside the building were placed the royal quarters and those reserved for courtiers, troops and servants. A casemate was placed at the foot of the castle, used as a district for the garrison responsible for maneuvering the drawbridge. In the second half of the eighteenth century, once the danger of pirates ceased, people began to abandon the castle, in search of a more comfortable residence in the various municipalities of the island in order to better take care of the main economic activities: the cultivation of the land and fishing. In 1809 the English troops besieged the islet, under French command, and shelled it until it was almost completely destroyed. In 1823 Ferdinand I, king of the Two Sicilies and exponent of the Bourbon dynasty, converted the fortress into a place of punishment for life prisoners and transformed the rooms into lodgings for the prison guards. The castle became, starting from 1851, a prison for conspirators against the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. In 1860, with the invasion of Giuseppe Garibaldi, Ischia was annexed to the Kingdom of Italy and the political prison was abolished. On 8 June 1912 the administration of the state property, with private negotiation, put the Aragonese castle up for auction. Since then the island has been managed by private individuals, who take care of its restoration and management.


It consisted of rectangular rooms with beds completely carved out of the tuff. In these rooms the hot steam was conveyed through tunnels that originated in the hot heart of the hill where there was a very active thermal spring. Inside the thermal complex a piece of exedra in cement work is still visible today, with remains of plaster. Also to this complex belongs a long semicircular tunnel, which is accessed from the sauna located at the bottom of the exedra. This area was still used in the Middle Ages and up to the 18th century thanks to the constant presence of thermal mineral springs. These thermal complex are mentioned by Vitruvius and Celso. There are also some Medieval structures discovered years ago, barrel-vaulted and placed at the level of the lower Roman ones, they are identifiable instead as a sudatory.


We are certainly not facing a temple, as the antiquarian tradition had hypothesized, but a thermal complex that exploited the rising of healthy waters. It was built directly against the walls of the ancient volcanic crater. The connection to Diana, goddess of the Hunt, arises only for the discovery in the area of a marble relief depicting a series of animals, one of the very few known elements of what must have been a refined decoration that covered walls and ceilings. In fact, there was no systematic excavation around the main hall that would allow us to understand the development of the complex. Despite this, the analysis of the visible walls allows us to consider the building as the last of the great thermal complexes of Baia, probably built around the third century A.D.


The important archaeological remains, subjected to intense excavation campaigns since 1941, revealed a stratification of buildings, villas and thermal complexes, belonging to a historical period that affects the late Roman Republican age and the Augustan, Hadrian and severe ages. The lowering of the ground below sea level, due to bradyseism, seems to have occurred in two phases: between the third and fifth centuries A.D., still in the late imperial era, which was followed by a more consistent marine invasion some century later. Baia was largely submerged by the sea around the VII - VIII century AD. Among the most significant remains are some domed vaulted structures such as the great Temple of Diana, the Temple of Mercury and that of Venus (in any case these are thermal structures and not places of worship, for which however it has survived the popular denomination).

Visual appearance and landscape narrative

  • “A sea trip to Pozzuoli, short and happy walks in a carriage or on foot through the most prodigious country in the world. Under the clearest sky the most treacherous ground; rubble of inconceivable opulence, severed, sinister; seething waters, sulfur-exhaling crevasses, mountains of slag rebelling against all vegetation, barren and desolate spaces, and then, suddenly, an eternally luxuriant greenery, which thrives wherever it can and rises above all this death, encircling ponds and streams, establishing itself with superb groups of oaks even on the sides of an ancient crater. And here we are, constantly bouncing between the manifestations of nature and that of peoples. We would like to reflect, but we feel unequal to the task” J.W. Goethe, Naples, 1787
  • As can also be seen in the description of Goethe's trip to Naples, the landscape of Baia can be defined sublime. Indeed, it is rich in contrasts that strike the human soul with strong emotions that are sometimes negative and sometimes positive. This contrasting feeling of the sublime, typical of a romantic landscape, accompanies the landscape of Baia even in its most contemporary meanings. It is significant to compare two paintings that portray the same glimpse of Baia in very close periods. On the one hand we see a painting by W. Turner, full of a gloomy and tormented feeling, and on the other a painting by AS van Pitloo, in which a serene and bucolic atmosphere prevails.
  • The main elements of this landscape are certainly the sea, the expanses of agricultural land, the volcanic conformation and archaeological finds, all the elements that strike charm and fear in the eyes of those who live in Baia. In fact, even in the most recent cinematographic representations there is a strong desire to represent a landscape and state of mind. Some examples of films are:
  1. Roberto Rossellini, Journey to Italy, 1954. In particular, the scene in which one perceives the whole emotional journey that the protagonist lives inside the Sibyl's Cave is famous;
  2. Massimo Troisi, Excuse the delay, 1983. In particular, the kiss scene on the beach of Miliscola in which it is the background to a tormented and difficult love;
  3. Francesco Lettieri, Ultras, 2020. In particular, the scene in which bathers and fishermen are in close contact with the finds of submerged Bay, thus also signaling the phenomena of risk and degradation.

Water and People

Accessibility and usability

  • The port area has immediate access to the water areas. Instead, the beaches are located at the foot of a part of the territory with a non-flat coast that does not allow easy access to the sea. Talking about the thermal complex of "Stufe di Nerone", it is well connected to other tourist attractions. All these areas are efficiently connected by rail and road transport.
  • The water areas are mainly used for tourist purposes such as the spa complexes which attract many visitors, the coastal part mainly hosts commercial activities and is not used as a bathing place.
  • The activities that take place in the port area produce a lot of pollution for the sea, moreover the traffic of boats passes right above the submerged archaeological remains.

Community Mapping

  • Social groups, below there are various associations and their interests:
  1. "La Musica nel cuore", it has interests in music;
  2. "Cuma Sport", it has interests in the various typologies of sport;
  3. "Il Pappice", it has interests on the environment. It is an independent newspaper of political, civil, social and cultural struggle;
  4. "Pro Loco Baia", it has interests in tourism. It aims to proceed with a systematic collection of the historical, environmental and demo-ethno-anthropological heritage of the Municipality where it works and of the neighboring areas, and to promote cultural tourism;
  5. "Bacoli in Corso", it has interests to promote the commercial activities and historic centers.
  • Local stakeholder groups, below there are various stakeholder groups and their interests:
  1. "Associazione Percorsi Cumani", the association promotes cycle mobility in the Phlegraean Fields;
  2. "Nostro Bacoli", the association promotes maritime mobility in the Phlegraean Fields;
  3. "Free Bacoli", the association promotes the urban recovery of the historic center, the redevelopment of public areas and parks, the limited traffic area, the pedestrian areas and the viability;
  4. "Diamo a Bacoli", it is a political-cultural association made up of Bacoli's "children" who have freely decided to put their individual skills at the service of the country in which they live.
  5. "N’Ostro Sud", the purpose of this association is the promotion of the Phlegraean territory, its beauties and its riches.
  • The relationship between the associations and the stakeholders is the protection and enhancement of the territory, for example as the "Associazione Percorsi Cumani" which through tours leads to discover the scenic and archaeological beauties of the Phlegraean Fields, where water is the main element. Another association that emphasizes the theme of water is "Diamo a Bacoli" which brings out the relationship between Bacoli and water, which over time has marked the development of the territory. Another point of view is that of "Free Bacoli" which is one of those with greater power, precisely for the mediation between citizens and local authorities, it among all stakeholders is committed both for information purposes of the various local news but also through direct interventions on the site its enhancement.

Possible Futures

Collaborative Goal Setting

  • The coastal area of Baia’s evaluation findings have led to some objectives that aim to a sustainable local regeneration. The planning hypothesis tries to actively interface with the abovementioned Sustainable Development Goals in order to act in a targeted and effective way where it matters most. According to the studies carried out, some strategic planning objectives have been designed. For example:
  1. Securing and reactivating the archaeological site of the Cocceio Caves, in the northern part of Baia, making them usable for the population thanks to the extension of the cycle-pedestrian road inside them;
  2. Creation of a new rural-tourist pole in the hinterland of Baia, exploiting the landscape potential of the area, through pedestrian paths, park ways and viewpoints;
  3. Improving the relationship between the archaeological site of Submerged Baia and the city of Bacoli, through the positioning of a new tourist-cultural starting point along the coast, taking up the original Roman access and reusing the ruins in the area as a museum structure;
  4. Redevelopment of the Baia waterfront through a series of strategic actions, such as the demolition of the abandoned and degraded structures along the beach; the realization of artificial beach nourishment of the coast for a better use of it; the realization of a cycle-pedestrian road that connects all the points of interest and the elimination of the port arm for the protection of the Submerged Baia;
  5. Reconversion of the existing industrial area through the reuse of abandoned buildings and through the creation of green open spaces to improve the quality of the area;
  6. Reactivation of the disused port to decentralize current marine traffic and to connect coastal points of interest by sea taxi;
  7. Improving the use of the Fondi di Baia through the creation of landscaped pedestrian paths and equipped green spaces.

From Theory of Change to Implementation

  • Our interventions are located in the public sector where governance and management are two central themes within the development of urban space. The creation and implementation of project governance is essential to address and resolve any problems that may arise during the project. Project governance is the "recipe" for the project manager on how to manage a project, relying on the support of specialists for the functional reorganization of the place. The implementation of principles, rules and procedures concerning the management and governance of a project is indispensable for the relaunch of the Bacoli area, which until now has been affected by uncontrolled and abusive growth.
  • A project governance plan is divided into five phases as follows:
  1. Start: lay the groundwork for project implementation through a participatory architecture with the population, thus going out to identify all local stakeholders. Since transparency of a project is important, local people must also be involved in the planning process and informed of changes;
  2. Plan the governance framework: once the stakeholders have been identified, a communication plan should be established. A well-formulated communication plan provides concise, efficient and timely information to all stakeholders;
  3. Execution of the governance framework: it is important that management develop a governance model that aligns the values ​​of the company's various participants, and to provide for periodic monitoring of the model's effectiveness. In particular, senior management must engage ethically and honestly, especially in the face of real or apparent conflicts of interest, and using clarity in financial reportin;
  4. Detailed plan: the detailed plan is delivered by the team of specialists involved in the project. As a result of these preliminary stages a detailed plan is draftep and delivered by the team of specialists. Specifically, we look at the decongestion of the central part of Baia subject to seasonal congestion, thus implementing the adjacent areas and making them more easily accessible, highlighting the naturalistic aspect of the area;
  5. Implementation: supervisors must follow the detailed plan and make sure that each process is carried out accordingly to the plan;
  6. Maintenance: it is an important economic factor that must also be included in the planning process. Maintenance gives longevity to the project and provides long-term use to the public.
  • The planning of the port area would need cooperation between the local administration and private investors. The local government would provide for the redevelopment of the area and give general directives on the intervention, subsequently delegating to the private investor the management of the various commercial spaces included in it.

The collection of the necessary funds must pass from the public authorities, since the various points of intervention are areas with peculiarities, such as the area of the port which is near the enormous heritage of Submerged Baia, where we must provide an intervention for the protection of the same aiming to move the marine traffic in the area below. After, this new port/commercial area must be delegated to private individuals for the management of the area and therefore its maintenance.

Monetary resources should be raised mainly by public authorities. However, private investors could contribute to the funding in view of the management and commercial benefits that could be gained from the implementation of the project. For example, through the redevelopment and revitalization of the commercial area, currently abandoned, or through the creation of tourist accommodation centers that take advantage of the landscape and archaeological potential of the area. In addition, the redevelopment of the coastal area, as well as limiting the current degradation could lead to the creation of new tourist attractions that would benefit the entire area of Baia. All this would implement even more the role of maritime centrality which the city enjoys. These elements could justify a sort of self-financing of the plan.


Process Reflection

  • At the end of this experience we are very happy to have taken part in it. For us Italian students this was the first year in which we entered in the heart of an urban planning project. Also, collaborating with students who were from other faculties was also useful to understand the approach that is taken outside our city. In fact, during the tracks many students had a more landscape approach rather than an urban one like ours and it is certainly something that enriched us. This seemed interesting to us, even if the biggest problem was certainly that of being limited in interacting with foreign students due to the online modalities. Surely it would have been more interesting if we could have made projects more interactive and lean to have mixed groups in order to enrich each other with their own approach. Furthermore, one thing that was fundamental for the project is the contribution of the stakeholders during the living labs which helped us a lot during the project phase because they made us aware of the most active problems and ideas in our territory, and also offering us many design ideas. Wave has been an important experience above all because through these international exchanges we have not only learned many things about other cities but above all we have understood many more things about our territory.