Phlegraean Islands

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Procida and, in the background, Ischia, seen from Cape Miseno

The Phlegraean Islands (Italian: Isole Flegree [ˈiːzole fleˈɡrɛːe]) are an archipelago off the coast of Naples in southern Italy, and comprise the islands of Ischia, Procida, Vivara, and Nisida, to which Capri is sometimes added. They are part of the Campanian Archipelago (Neapolitan Archipelago).

The islands, situated in the Gulf of Naples, namely Ischia, Procida, Vivara and Nisida, are also known as the Phlegraean islands, a name that derives from the common affiliation to the geologic area of the Phlegraean Fields. The island of Capri is usually excluded, as it does not belong to the same geologic area.

In the classical epoch, some Phlegraean Islands were called Pithecussae, the Greek Pithekousai (Πιθηκοῦσαι, ‘islands of monkeys’). A Greek myth tells of two brigands, the Cercopes of Ephesus, who played pranks on Zeus, who then punished them by turning them into monkeys and exiling them to the islands of Aenaria (Ischia) and Prochyta (Procida).

Legend had the monster Typhon buried under Ischia, and the Giant Mimas buried under Procida. Such stories might be significant as a clue to how the ancient Greeks attempted to account for the volcanism of the whole area. The resulting changes in the topography of the islands were due to the frequent intervention of deities.

Coordinates: 40°45′N 14°1′E / 40.750°N 14.017°E / 40.750; 14.017