This archway is also home to the people’s progress, talent, and civilisation: the Ancient Romans. It is a work that bears witness to their glory and whose origins lie between reality and legend. Let’s discover the details together, taking us back about 2000 years.
The Arco Felice is located in the homonymous hamlet of the municipality of Pozzuoli, in the Campi Flegrei area. Therefore, this extraordinary engineering work gives its name to the place and not the other way around. As for the title, the adjective “felice” (happy) reality blends with myth, as always happens in these fascinating areas. According to a legend, passing under the arch, lovers who had kissed would have been happy forever. A rather fairy-tale element that enriches our imagination in a journey back in time, retracing the path of those who came before us.
The territory presents a wealth of evidence of our glorious past: indelible footprints that great civilisations such as the Ancient Romans left behind.
Even today, travelling along the road linking today’s Pozzuoli and ancient Cuma, we can pass under the Arco Felice, where the Roman legions once passed through.
The Arco Felice, a work to strengthen the road network of the Empire
The arch was built at the behest of the Roman emperor Titus Flavius Domitian himself, the last of the Flavian dynasty around 95 AD. As we know, the Romans built infrastructures of enormous importance worldwide: aqueducts, bridges and roads. And it is in this context we also have to mention the project to increase and further develop the empire’s road network. In this way, the arch allowed the passage of the Via Domitiana, a fundamental artery that quickly connected Naples and Rome. The Via Domitiana, a branch of the Via Appia, skirted the Phlegrean coastline and continued to Pozzuoli and Naples. A smaller section reached Cumae and Misenum.
Pozzuoli, the ancient Puteoli, was of great strategic importance. With its commercial port and one of the largest markets of the time, it was one of the main cities of the empire.
A monumental passage into Monte Grillo
After this very brief digression, all that remains is to talk about its execution. This monumental passageway was the entrance to the city of Cuma since the 1st century AD. It was necessary to widen the gorge that divided the hill known as Monte Grillo in two, probably dug centuries earlier by the Greeks. In this way, its double function was configured: containment against possible landslides and landslips and, no less important, a connection between the two sides of Monte Grillo. Later, it also took on a defensive role, becoming a symbol: the legendary gate to the city of Cumae coming from Pozzuoli.
The structure of the ancient Arco Felice
The magnificent structure, made of bricks and covered initially with marble slabs, is 20 metres high and 6 metres wide.
The arch consisted of a high archway surmounted and bolstered by two orders of smaller relieving arches. A round arch also surmounted the main archway. On both sides, the vertical supporting elements, namely the piers, were equipped with two niches designed to house statues. Over the centuries, numerous modifications have profoundly altered the original appearance. The marble facing has practically disappeared, and the upper arches were walled up around the first half of the 18th century. Of the original Roman design, only the intrados and, partially, the western façade remain visible. However, near the Arco Felice, a stretch of the ancient Via Domitiana is still preserved, with the paving of the time, and flanked by stone bollards.
Nevertheless, breathing the air in these places full of history and culture is a wonderful experience: a journey through time to a glorious past.
HOW FAR IS IT FROM AL CHIAR DI LUNA
Arco Felice is just 10 km from Al Chiar di Luna and can be easily reached by car:
PERCHE’ ABBIAMO CHIAMATO QUESTO PUNTO DELLA NOSTRA STRUTTURA “ARCO FELICE”?
Così come l’Arco Felice vecchio rappresenta una testimonianza di una storia antica così questo ingresso è il segno della nostra storia di 65 anni di amore per l’accoglienza.
Da tre generazioni mettiamo tutta la nostra passione nel settore gastronomico e alberghiero.
Abbiamo creato Al Chiar di Luna con l’intento di offrire servizi di qualità nell’accoglienza, nella ricettività e nella ristorazione à la carte.
Con dedizione e semplicità ci impegniamo per creare momenti indimenticabili.
Sei curioso di sapere qualcosa in più sulla nostra storia aziendale? Approfondisci con questo nostro racconto!