Going South: things to do with children travelling in south Italy
Abbazia di Casamari
The Abbey of Casamari was built on the site in the early 11th century in the austere Cistercian style, specifically designed to avoid distraction and ostentation. Despite this (or perhaps because of this), the abbey is a beautiful sight, with delicate columns, vaulted ceilings, small stained-glass windows, and a lovely cloistered courtyard.
Today, the beautiful Abbey of Casamari still houses a Cistercian community numbering about 20. The spiritual life of the monks of Casamari centers on common prayer and visitors can enjoy their Gregorian chant throughout the week. The other main focus of the monks is work, by which they earn a living for themselves and for the poor and missions.
There is a small museum and bookshop at the abbey, and accommodation for guests is provided (phone +39 0775 332 371).
Reggia di Caserta
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Caserta is known as the “Versailles of Naples” after the Royal Palace built here by the Bourbon King, Charles III, in the 18th century. The enchanting palace overlooking the huge square is one of the most sumptuous buildings of its kind in Italy. It has over 1,200 rooms and is full of paintings and rich decorations. The magnificent gardens are 3 km long and their crowning glory is a 75 metre high waterfall, which can be clearly seen from the palace.
Cratere degli Astroni, Riserva Naturale
Info and bookings: Tel 0039 081 5883720 – Mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Astroni is one of the wonders of the Campi Flegrei: an entire volcanic crater carpeted with Mediterranean vegetation. Tapped by the Romans for its geothermal waters (the baths have never been discovered) and used by Naples’ various dynasties as a hunting area from the 15th to 19th centuries, Astroni is now a World Wildlife Fund (WWF) reserve. A landslide after heavy rains in March 2005 blocked the road (near the site entrance) that winds down towards the lakes on the crater floor; visitors have since been channelled down a steeper path through holm oak woodland.
A shady picnic site has been laid out at the crater bottom, and screened observation walkways have been erected for birders by the lakeside, but much of the area is so dense in vegetation that birdwatching here requires a good pair of ears as well as binoculars.
Although it sounds idyllic, be warned: access by public transport involves a two-kilometre walk through an isolated area and opening hours are subject to change, so phone ahead.
Parco Nazionale del Vesuvio
Vesuvio National Park, of great geological and historical interest, has been established in order to safeguard the values of the territory, use suitable means to allow a correct integration between man and environment, promote environmental education and scientific research activities. The Park was also born from the need to defend the most famous volcano in the world: Vesuvius, a typical example of fence volcano consisting of an external truncated cone, the extinct Mt. Somma, with a crateric perimeter which has been mainly destroyed and in which there is a smaller cone represented by Vesuvius, which is still active. The territory, rich in historical-naturalistic beauties, boasts of a unique agricultural production for the great variety and originality of its tastes.
Directions by car from the highway:
•To access the coastal slope of the Park, go along highway A3 Naples – Salerno up to the exits Ercolano or Torre del Greco, get to via San Vito or via Vesuvio according to the exit, and go ahead following the indications leading to the summit of the volcano.
•To Strada Martone, take the exit in Torre Annunziata and go ahead in the direction of Trecase.
Pompei is one of the most significant proofs of Roman civilization and, like an open book, provides outstanding information on the art, customs, trades and everyday life of the past.
Via Sepolcri, Torre Annunziata (NA) – Motorway A3 Napoli-Salerno (exit Torre Annunziata sud)
Open everyday from 8.30 to 18.00.
Access to 3 sites – valid for 1 day: Eu 5.50 – Free under 18
It is possible now to visit Pompei by bike. Bikes and helmets can be borrowed free of charge at the entrance. The bike path is 5 Km long and includes racks where you can leave the bike and visit the sites.
Capri and Ischia
Ferry services run from Naples to Ischia and Capri, as well as Procida and Sorrento. Services – especially in the summer months – to Ischia and Capri are frequent and you can simply turn up at Molo Beverello in Naples, buy your ticket and take the next service. Services range from speedy hydrofoils to slow car ferries, with prices that range correspondingly.
Ferries depart from two ports in Naples: Molo Beverello and Mergellina. Beverello is the principal port for ferries, and it is fairly straightforward to reach from the main Naples train station, Stazione Centrale.
UNESCO World Heritage Site
The three Doric temples of Paestum, at the start of the Cilento coast, are said to be the best preserved Greek temples in the world and the walls around Paestum are the most complete of that period. Paestum is also renowned for its painted tombs. This area is also very well known for the Caseifici (small cheese factories) where Bufala Mozzarella is produced. Don’t miss a stop at any of the Caseifici of the area to taste the freshly made Mozzarella from the factory shop.
Grotte di Castelcivita
The Castelcivita Caves are located on the right bank of the Calore River and penetrate the Alburni Mountains for several kilometers; of these, 1.3 kilometers are actually accessible for visits. Along the route, it is possible to admire all types of concretions: stalactites, stalagmites, columns, drapes, etc. The cave is alive and its drips continue to create new concretions over the centuries.
The visiting route was once longer, arriving at 1700 meters; however, the frequent winter floods eliminated the structure constructed for visitors in the deepest part.
Piazza Umberto 1 – Castelcivita (SA)
tel.fax. 0039 0828772397
Information and bookings: email@example.com
Visits: 10:30 – 12:00 – 13:30 – 15:00 – 16:30 – 18:00
Price: Eu 10 Adults and Eu 8 Children 6-12
Certosa di Padula
Padula Charterhouse is one of the most impressive buildings of all the Southern Italy, and, as usual, it is virtually unknown to the people that look for a cultural holiday in Italy. It is the second largest Chartreuse in Italy. It was founded in 1306 and it is dedicated to St. Lawrence. According to the stern carthusian rules between contemplation and work in use in the Chartreuse there are two distinct places for these practices: the peaceful cloisters, the library with its nice fine Vietri ceramic tiled floor, the chapels decorated with fine inlaid marble works, the cloister orchards ; and the large kitchen – where the legendary one thousands egg omelette was cooked for Charles V -, the cellars with their enormous wine vats, the laundries, and the huge external yards, where there were people working at the stables, ovens, stores, and at the olive oil mill.