Cape Misenum, the Rome foremost military port

Miseno

According to the mythology Misenum was named after Misenus, a companion of Hector and trumpeter on the Aeneas ship as recounted in Virgil’s poem.

Cape Miseno is the headland that marks the northwestern limit of the Gulf of Naples as well as the Bay of Pozzuoli in southern Italy. The cape is directly across from the island of Procida and is named for Misenus, a character in Virgil’s Aeneid.

Misenum was the largest base of the Roman navy, since its port (Portus Julius) was the base of the Classis Misenensis, the most important Roman fleet. It was first established as a naval base in 27 BC by Marcus Agrippa, the right-hand man of the emperor Augustus.

In 38 BC, Misenum was the site where a short-lived pact was made between Octavian and his rival Sextus Pompeius.

With its gorgeous natural setting close to the naval base and the nearby important Roman cities of Puteoli and Neapolis, Misenum became the site of Roman luxury villas.

Pliny the Elder was the praefectus classis in charge of the naval fleet at Misenum in AD 79, at the time of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius visible to the south across the Bay of Naples.

Seeing the beginnings of the eruption, Pliny left for a closer view in Stabia and to effect a possible rescue, and was killed by the eruption.

The account of his death is given by his nephew Pliny the Younger, who was also resident in Misenum at the time.

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pliny_route
The Pliny’s route

In Miseno there is the biggest Roman cistern  of drinkable water ever built called Piscina Mirabilis, realized during the Augustan period. Entirely excavated in the tufa rock, it has a capacity of 12.000 cubic meter of water, it’s 15 meters high, 72 m long and 25 m wide and it is covered by a vault, supported by 48 enormous cruciform pillars to form five long naves. The cistern was built to collect water for the fleet of the Roman Empire that docked in Miseno’s harbour.

It represented the final tank of the Augustan aqueduct (Aqua Augusta) that, from its springs in Serino and for 100 kilometers, brought water to Naples and the Phlegrean Fields.

piscina mirabilis
Piscina Mirabilis at Miseno

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Published by Emiliano's Archaeological Tours

My name is Emiliano Tufano, I am an archaeologist and tour guide. I run an organization providing archeaological and cultural tours in Campania. When I was ten years old I found a piece of painted pottery on a small piece of land belonging to my family, which is located nearby the ancient Greek city of Paestum. For the whole of that day I kept this piece of history in my hands. I remember that it was decorated with a black figured scene of a Satyr driving a biga. The feeling I had when realized it was a genuine antique object was very strong, and I started asking myself many questions about the people who occupied that area across the centuries and, particularly, about the man who made such a beautiful piece of work. Since then I started collecting all sorts of pots and stones that I found while I wandered through the countryside. I used to divide my finds simply on the basis of their shape and color. They were the first steps of me becoming an archaeologist. At school, history was my favorite subject; therefore my decision of which degree course to choose was an easy one, Archaeology. Today, archaeology is my profession and my passion. Throughout the years I developed skills in fieldwork and academic research. I participated as a field director in several excavation projects of fundamental importance across Italy and I was engaged in significant academic research projects in Sicily, Tunisia and Libya. I now fulfill my ambition with a PhD project about the Sicilian prehistory. However, my interests go beyond just the history. I have a strong creative side and I love photography, and I write articles for a newspaper in my local area, play football and enjoy diving. I enjoy traveling and have been to many different countries, where I always make particular efforts to learn as much of the local language and culture as possible. In 2010 I became qualified to work as a tourist guide of the Campania Region, and today I offer guided tours in Italian, English and Spanish. I live my job with passion and professionalism. With me you can visit the wonders of Campania: the Vesuvian archaeological sites of Pompeii, Herculaneum and other beautiful sites, such as the historic centers of Naples, Caserta and Salerno, the Amalfi Coast and Sorrento Coast, all the major churches and museums. Through exclusive and tailor-made tours, according to your requirements, you will receive quality service and cultural enrichment.

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