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Temple of Zeus remnants at the Cuma archaeological park in Pozzuoli, Italy. Much of the site is linked to the first Greek colony on Italy's mainland in the eighth century B.C.
Temple of Zeus remnants at the Cuma archaeological park in Pozzuoli, Italy. Much of the site is linked to the first Greek colony on Italy's mainland in the eighth century B.C. (Scott Wyland/Stars and Stripes)
Temple of Zeus remnants at the Cuma archaeological park in Pozzuoli, Italy. Much of the site is linked to the first Greek colony on Italy's mainland in the eighth century B.C.
Temple of Zeus remnants at the Cuma archaeological park in Pozzuoli, Italy. Much of the site is linked to the first Greek colony on Italy's mainland in the eighth century B.C. (Scott Wyland/Stars and Stripes)
The cave of the Sibyl, a woman believed by ancient Greeks to be an oracle. It's part of the 2,700-year-old ruins at the Cuma archaeological park in Pozzuoli, Italy.
The cave of the Sibyl, a woman believed by ancient Greeks to be an oracle. It's part of the 2,700-year-old ruins at the Cuma archaeological park in Pozzuoli, Italy. (Scott Wyland/Stars and Stripes)
A fortified lookout point in an upper section of the ruins at the Cuma archaeological park in Pozzuoli, Italy. The wooded, oceanside park has 2,700-year-old ruins of the first Greek settlement on Italy's mainland.
A fortified lookout point in an upper section of the ruins at the Cuma archaeological park in Pozzuoli, Italy. The wooded, oceanside park has 2,700-year-old ruins of the first Greek settlement on Italy's mainland. (Scott Wyland/Stars and Stripes)
The Cuma archaeological park overlooks the Bay of Naples, offering visitors stunning waterfront views. For centuries armies used the site as a battlement against invading forces. The Germans occupied the site during World War II.
The Cuma archaeological park overlooks the Bay of Naples, offering visitors stunning waterfront views. For centuries armies used the site as a battlement against invading forces. The Germans occupied the site during World War II. (Scott Wyland/Stars and Stripes)
The lower entrance to the Cuma archaeological park in Pozzuoli, Italy. Visitors can stroll through restored ruins of a 2,700-year-old Greek settlement near the Bay of Naples.
The lower entrance to the Cuma archaeological park in Pozzuoli, Italy. Visitors can stroll through restored ruins of a 2,700-year-old Greek settlement near the Bay of Naples. (Scott Wyland/Stars and Stripes)
The remains of a basilica that was built on the Greeks' Temple of Zeus at the Cuma archaeological park in Pozzuoli, Italy.
The remains of a basilica that was built on the Greeks' Temple of Zeus at the Cuma archaeological park in Pozzuoli, Italy. (Scott Wyland/Stars and Stripes)

A serene walk through a wooded, waterfront park will take you through ancient Greek ruins at the Cuma archaeological site west of Naples.

Yes, Greek.

Cumae was the first Greek colony on Italy’s mainland. Records indicate Greeks settled here in the eighth century B.C. and thrived for a few hundred years before Oscan invaders conquered it.

The remains of this once-formidable stronghold lie in the modern village of Cuma. The Greeks left a deep footprint here but were a fleeting power in a region where tribes and nations were constantly warring.

Brick slabs and truncated columns were temples to the Greek gods Zeus and Apollo and later the Roman deities Diana and Jupiter.

A stone wall embedded in a hill was part of the Cumae acropolis. A trapezoidal tunnel passes through the cave of the Sibyl, an oracle who ancient Greeks believed could tell the future.

The hills and battlements, which offer visitors majestic views of the sea, gave armies both a lookout and fortified defense against foes. The Germans used the site as a gun emplacement during World War II.

The temple of Zeus was converted into a church during the early Christian period. These hilltop ruins are marked by brick arches. Any architecture still intact within the parksite is of Christian origin.

Cumae prospered for centuries with its Roman alliance, a factor that helped protect the city against invasions, including from Hannibal. But after Rome fell, the Goths conquered it, then the Saracens, then the Neapolitans. Then nature.

Marshes overtook the city after the Saracens were driven out in the 13th century, and Cuma became almost forgotten. Archaeologists uncovered the ancient ruins in the 1930s, including the cave of the Sibyl.

Walking through that mystical passageway, you wonder whether this ancient seer ever envisioned Cuma as anything like it is today.

wyland.scott@stripes.com Twitter: @wylandstripes

Address: Via Monte di Cuma 3, Pozzuoli, ItalyHours: 9 a.m. to 6:20 p.m. dailyCost: 4 euros ($5)Parking: There are an ample number of spaces along the road and area in front of the park.Other amenities: The are many good restaurants in the area, along with beaches and museums.Information: email: ssba-na@beniculturali.it, phone: (+39) 081-804-0430

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