Italy’s mermaid battle: Naples vs. Ventotene
In ancient times, sailors once lashed themselves to their masts to avoid being lured to death by seductive mermaids known as sirens.
Today, on the sun-kissed western shores of Italy, mermaids are once again stirring up trouble as two rival destinations battle it out to lure tourists with claims of being home to the mythological fishy creatures.
In one corner is Naples, with a glittering gulf that stretches to the Sorrento Peninsula. In the other is Ventotene, a tiny volcanic isle far out in the Tyrrhenian Sea west of Naples.
Both of these Mediterranean magnets claim to be the “real” place where Greek hero and travel figure Odysseus, sailing home from burning Troy, encountered the seductive sirens.
Legend has it that Odysseus escaped the fate of other doomed sailors by tying himself to the mast of his ship and telling his companions to plug their ears.
Spurned, the creatures perished, but their pull is still felt every summer as curious tourists flock to learn more. But where should they go?