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Puffing out clouds of vapor continuously is a volcanic phenomenon not far from Naples.It's the Phlegraean Fields – Campi Flegrei in Italian – a sprawling constellation of ancient volcanic centers near the Tyrrhenian Sea and extending under the sapphire-blue waters. Geologists monitor the volcano by checking temperatures, chemically analyzing gases emerging from fumaroles and scrutinizing the ground to see if it is rising or falling. The last notable eruptions in the Phlegraean Fields occurred in 1158 at Solfatara and the other at what is now another volcanic cone, Monte Nuovo (New Mountain) in 1538 .Known as "stufe," (stoves), the sweat rooms were created by excavating ancient grottoes in the side of the volcanic mountain.One recent, brilliantly sunny spring day, the air temperature measured 20 C but a mere few inches under the surface, the temperature was a sizzling 78 C degrees.
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