Since the mid 1980s, Naples and the Campania region have suffered from the dumping of wastes into overfilled landfills. The aim was to characterise a former cave located in Roccarainola (Naples, Italy) for its eventual destination to a controlled landfill site. A detailed hydro-geochemical survey of the area was carried out through drilling of 14 boreholes and four monitoring wells. Samples of water, sediment and soil were analysed for heavy metals and organic contaminants from a dew pond placed in the middle of the cave. The underneath aquifer was also surveyed. The nature of gases emitted from the site was investigated. Results of the geognostic survey revealed the presence of huge volumes of composite wastes, approximately half a million of cubic metre, which accumulated up to a thickness of 25.6 m. In some points, wastes lie below the free surface level of the aquifer. The sampled material from the boreholes revealed levels of As, Cd, Cr, Cu, Hg, Pb, Sn, Tl and Zn exceeding the intervention legal limits. Outstanding loads of Cd, Pb and Zn were found, with levels exceeding of about 50, 100 and 1,870 times the limit. In several points, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon load was extremely high, 35 vs 1 mg kg(-1) of the threshold. The aquifer was also very heavily polluted by Cd, Cr-tot, Cu, Fe, Mn, Ni, Pb and Zn, with impressive high load of Cr and Mn, up to 250-370 times the limits. Hot gases up to 62 °C with presence of xylene and ethylbenzene were found. Results indicated that the site needs an urgent intervention of recovery to avoid compromising the surrounding areas and aquifers of the Campania plain.