Campania was colonised by Ancient Greeks and was part of Magna Græcia. During the Roman era, the area maintained a Greco-Roman culture. The capital city of Campania is Naples. Campania is rich in culture, especially in regard to gastronomy, music, architecture, archeological and ancient sites such as Pompeii, Herculaneum, Paestum and Velia. The name of Campania itself is derived from Latin, as the Romans knew the region as Campania felix, which translates into English as "fertile countryside". The rich natural sights of Campania make it highly important in the tourism industry, especially along the Amalfi Coast, Mount Vesuvius and the island of Capri.
The original inhabitants of Campania were three defined groups of the Ancient peoples of Italy, who all spoke the Oscan language, which is part of the Italic family; their names were the Osci, the Aurunci and the Ausones. During the 8th century BC, people from Euboea in Greece, known as Cumaeans, began to establish colonies in the area roughly around the modern day province of Naples. Another Oscan tribe, the Samnites, moved down from central Italy into Campania. Since the Samnites were more warlike than the Campanians, they easily took over the cities of Capua and Cumae, in an area which was one of the most prosperous and fertile in the Italian Peninsula at the time. During the 340s BC, the Samnites were engaged in a war with the Roman Republic in a dispute known as the Samnite Wars, with the Romans securing rich pastures of northern Campania during the First Samnite War.
The major remaining independent Greek settlement was Neapolis, and when the town was eventually captured by the Samnites, the Neapolitans were left with no other option than to call on the Romans, with whom they established an alliance, setting off the Second Samnite War. The Roman consul Quintus Publilius Filo recaptured Neapolis by 326 BC and allowed it to remain a Greek city with some autonomy as a civitas foederata while strongly aligned with Rome. The Second Samnite War ended with the Romans controlling southern Campania and additional regions further to the south.
Campania was a full-fledged part of the Roman Republic by the end of the 4th century BC, valued for its pastures and rich countryside. Its Greek language and customs made it a centre of Hellenistic civilization, creating the first traces of Greco-Roman culture. During the Pyrrhic War the battle took place in Campania at Maleventum in which the Romans, led by consul Curius Dentatus, were victorious. They renamed the city Beneventum (modern day Benevento), which grew in stature until it was second only to Capua in southern Italy. During the Second Punic War in 216 BC, Capua, in a bid for equality with Rome, allied with Carthage. The rebellious Capuans were isolated from the rest of Campania, which remained allies of Rome. Naples resisted Hannibal due to the imposing walls. Capua was eventually starved into submission in the Roman retaking of 211 BC, and the Romans were victorious.
The rest of Campania, with the exception of Naples, adopted the Latin language as official and was Romanised. As part of the Roman Empire, Campania, with Latium, formed the most important region of the Augustan divisions of Italia; Campania was one of the main areas for granary. In ancient times Misenum (modern 'Miseno'), at the extreme northern end of the bay of Naples, was the largest base of the Roman navy, since its port (Portus Julius) was the base of the Classis Misenensis, the most important Roman fleet. It was first established as a naval base in 27 BC by Marcus Agrippa, the right-hand man of the emperor Augustus.Roman Emperors chose Campania as a holiday destination, among them Claudius and Tiberius, the latter of whom is infamously linked to the island of Capri. It was also during this period that Christianity came to Campania. Two of the apostles, St. Peter and St. Paul, are said to have preached in the city of Naples, and there were also several martyrs during this time. Unfortunately, the period of relative calm was violently interrupted by the epic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 which buried the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. With the Decline of the Roman Empire, its last emperor, Romulus Augustus, was put in a manor house prison near Castel dell'Ovo, Naples, in 476, ushering in the beginning of the Middle Ages and a period of uncertainty in regard to the future of the area.