Description: The Archaeological Park of Gaiola extends along Posillipo's coastline from the high cliffs at the bay of Trentaremi to the gentle slopes of Marechiaro. This site consists of an extraordinary mixture of archaeological remains and rich biological populations of colourful animal and plant forms, which are accommodated and protected by the intricately woven wall of the Roman epoch.
The environment varies along the length of the coast; changing from beds of tuff eroded by waves and damaged by human interaction during Roman times to the rocky environment, rich in white and yellow sea fans, as is typical of the Mediterranean coastline.
The floor around the island of Gaiola constitutes tuff slabs interspersed with small, dark chasms. Within this area there are archaeological building remains which, with their square form, the crevices in the stone blocks, the caves and the differing light exposures, create a virtual encyclopaedia of the Mediterranean coastal environment.
Since the summits of the stone blocks and the pillars are, in fact, exposed to sunlight even at high tide, they are seen to accommodate a typical phototrophic (light-dependent) community characterised by clumps of brown and red algae with laminated leaves and tufts (Dictyota dichotoma and Asparagopsis taxiformis). In the areas which are in the shade, not receiving sunlight, the community suddenly changes to being chemotrophic (light-independent), this being particularly evident by the species Amphiroa rigida (having bluish tufts).
This imaginary tour through the fish pool and between the pillars of the villa which, two thousand years ago, stood on the coast of Posillipo is accompanied by schools of brown damselfish (“Lo Guarracino” in the famous Neapolitan song), Mediterranean rainbow wrasse, brown wrasse, golden mullets and small sea bream. The octopus population builds their nests in the cervices between the blocks of stone which are full of urchins, mussels and limpets.
Following a submerged foothill, which slopes down from the villa towards the open sea, it is possible to reach Banco della Cavallara at a depth of 20-30 metres. This bed provides a fascinating diving experience in the heart of the Mediterranean directly under the unique panorama of the Gulf of Naples with a view of Mount Vesuvius, the cape of Posillipo and Capri; it is characterised by the popular gorgonians Eunicella singularis (white sea fan) and Eunicella cavolini (yellow sea fan) and animals capable of biological construction (i.e. reef building) such as the madrepores Cladocora caespitosa and Parazoanthus axinellae which produce the same stone on which colourful populations settle and between which sea bream, combers and cardinal fish graze and murays hide and a rich, deep reef fauna reaches toward the filtered rays of the sun.
Depth: Maximum -21m; average -16m.
Price: € 35 including admission fee for the park.
Service: Tank, weight, boat transfer and guide.