It's unclear if the people who coined these stones the "Tomb of Agrippina" meant Agrippina the Elder or Agrippina the Younger, both of whom were interesting historical women. Agrippina the Elder was the graddaughter of Augustus, mother of Caligula, and grandmother of Nero. She had nine children and also accompanied her husband, Germanicus, on military campaigns, earning high respect from the Roman citizens who saw her as a heroic woman, wife, and mother. But over time her politics incurred the wrath of Tiberius who, after the death of her husband, banished her to an island off the coast of the Campania region here. When she died, so the story goes, Caligula brought her ashes back to Rome.
Agrippina the Younger was the daughter of Agrippina the Elder and also the mother of Emperor Nero. She was renown, above all, for her sexual escapades and ruthless will to power. While her brother Caligula was still Emperor, purportedly he would hold lavish banquets and commit incest with his sisters. But eventually Caligula turned on both Agrippina and his sister Livilla, who were also lovers with their maternal cousin Lepidus. The three of them tried to murder Caligula, for which Agrippina was exiled.
When Caligula was murdered in 41 AD, the new Emperor Claudius brought Agrippina the Younger back to Rome. She quickly married a second husband, Crispus. (Her first husband, Domitius, was the father of Nero. By the arrangement of Emperor Tiberius she married him at the age of 13.) When Crispus died, rumors held that she'd poisoned her own husband to gain his estate. And indeed, she became very wealthy. Thereafter, she became mistress to one of Emperor Claudius' advisers and through him arranged to get herself married to the Emperor himself. Her motive: to put her son Nero on the throne.
Agrippina succeeded. Once married to the Emperor, she schemed and ordered murders to get rid of many political rivals. When Claudius agreed to adopt Nero as his son, the Emperor died very suddenly. Rumors abounded that Agrippina poisoned Claudius.
Nero took the throne and Agrippina tried to control her son and the empire. But Nero had other plans and expelled his mother to Misenum (off the cape of Naples). Thereafter, he tried to kill his mother several times. He failed to drown her in a collapsible boat, failed to poison her three times, failed to crush her by a mechanical ceiling over her bed, and finally sent assassins to stab her. The Roman historian Tacitus writes that just before assassins finally succeeded in killing her, Agrippina shouted, ""Smite my womb!"
After reading a bit about these two women, the ruins here suddenly shudder with mythical majesty. The bricks leave me waiting for Agrippina's ghost -- the one Nero claimed plagued him after his mother died. Perhaps she continues walking along the brick walking and all who visit should be thankful that the fence keeps her fate inside.
Today, moored boats lap at the port of Bacoli. A Lido Ritorno Quintilio overlooks the water adjacent to the tomb and three restaurants – Da Garibaldi, The Lavish Rock Bar, and The Very Club – tout epicurean delights. The ‘Sport e Vita’ offers underwater archeological tours, taking visitors to see the ruins of underwater villas.
Underwater Archeological Tours: Sport e Vita is located at Via Agrippina 22 Bacoli. Call 081/5235683 or ask for Gaetano Vassallo (who speaks English) at cell phone 335/8183979.