Monday, September 01, 2014
Golfing in Southern Italy
Allan Stitt and Steve Molaski
So you’ve lugged that bag of sticks all over Europe, and you’re in Southern Italy without a place to play.
You realize you are staying in the shadow of Vesuvius, that colossal volcano that decimated Pompeii a couple of thousand years ago. You also realize that Vesuvius lies in a volcanic area near Naples, Italy. The Phlegraen Fields are composed of a large volcanic area west of Naples. There are 24 craters and volcanic edifices, most lying underwater. But there are a few that can be observed in the process of hydrothermal activity in several places. In the Solfatura Crater, known as the mythological home of the Roman god of fire, Vulcan, there is constant volcanic activity---spewing of gas and lava.
The beach at nearby Bacoli was once the home of the Roman academy for training its soldiers. The nearby summer villas of Julius Caesar, Nero the fiddler, and the wall builder Hadrian stood along the shores of the Tyrrhean Sea. The third largest amphitheatre in Italy, the Flavian Amphitheatre, lies in the nearby port of Monte di Procida.
Someone suggests a game of golf in a dormant volcano. Excuse me? Yes, they assure us, in a extinct volcano. Now, having just toured the remains of Pompeii, witnessing the decimation of the entire area, I am contemplating the fact that, before the explosion, Vesuvius was supposed to be dormant. I visited Mount St. Helens on the West Coast years ago, furthering my view that no volcanoes are ever “permanently dormant”.
Carney Park is a military recreational facility located in the “permanently dormant” extinct volcano Capiglione, located in the Phlegraen Fields near Naples. The area is almost one hundred acres, lying in the crater covering the smouldering mass of lava below the surface.
The area is now a military facility maintained by the United States Department of Defense. Within the crater you will find, surrounding the exquisite nine hole golf course: an Olympic sized swimming pool, with necessary water slides, five adult softball fields, baseball fields, soccer pitches, football fields, tennis courts, basketball courts, and a host of other game sites. The mandatory snack bar and restaurant is at your service.
You will need to show your passport at the gate, as the area is under the jurisdiction of the American military.
We were accompanied by Lieutenant Colonel Steve Molaski, a member of the Canadian Armed Forces, stationed at the NATO base near Naples. Also playing was Allan Stitt, current Senior Champion at the Bay of Quinte Country Club in Belleville. Both of those gentlemen know a thing or two about the game. Stitt was most impressed with the course.
The next day, we climbed Vesuvius in Steve’s trusty Ford Focus. Amazing geological structures, incredible hospitality!
September 1, 2014