The Monks’ Trail
The proposed itinerary takes you through the Eastern section of the Campi Flegrei [Phlegraean Fields], and offers splendid views, as well as numerous natural, geological and geomorphological attractions. The route leads uphill across a side of the Phlegraean caldera, through ancient farms, citrus groves, vineyards and orchards, before continuing along a slope with small traces of Mediterranean scrub and oak, hazel and rare chestnut trees. The steps in the Neapolitan Yellow Tuff (the rock on which Naples’ entire urban system is built) carved out by monks in ancient times, lead to the ‘Francesco Luccio’ Botanical Area of the Camaldoli Urban Park, managed by volunteers from the Associazione Agrifoglio [Holly Association]; this is the way to Camaldoli’s Eremo del SS.Salvatore [SS. Salvatore Hermitage].
Plant life here is thriving, thanks to the fertile substrate consisting of deposits from the characteristic explosive volcanic eruptions in the Campi Flegrei.
The highest point on the path offers views of the precipitous tuff walls, home to buzzards and other birds of prey, and provides a spectacular panorama of the Gulfs of Naples and Pozzuoli.
The Camaldoli Hermitage is a monumental site of significant historical, artistic and panoramic value. It is located at the summit of Collina dei Camaldoli [Camaldoli Hill]. For centuries, it was entrusted to the Camaldoli Monks.
Since 1998, the large, restored and renovated complex has been home to the Brigidine Sisters, of the Order of S.S. Salvatore di S. Brigida. Built in 1585 based on plans by Domenico Fontana, it was located on the ruins of an ancient Chapel, founded by St. Gaudiosus in 439 and dedicated to the Transfiguration of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Giovanni D’Avalos, son of Alfonso, Marquis of Vasto, contributed a substantial sum of money towards the construction of the Hermitage. The architectural style of the current church, which sits alongside a large bell tower, is attributable to the late Renaissance period.
As well as the church, the complex features: surrounding walls, monks’ cells, a garden, a vegetable garden, bathrooms and an observation point, offering views spanning from Capri to Ischia, and from Vesuvius to the Campi Flegrei.
The Hermitage was closed twice over the course of its history: once on Napoleon’s orders in 1807, and once by the House of Savoy in 1866. In 1885, the Camaldoli people resumed management of the hermitage.
Stop: Eremo dei Camaldoli
Distance: 2,3 Km