Calderas are collapse structures related to the emptying of magmatic reservoirs, often associated with large eruptions from long-lived magmatic systems. Understanding how magma is transferred from a magma reservoir to the surface before eruptions is a major challenge. Here we exploit the historical, archaeological and geological record of Campi Flegrei caldera to estimate the surface deformation preceding the Monte Nuovo eruption and investigate the shallow magma transfer. Our data suggest a progressive magma accumulation from ~1251 to 1536 in a 4.6 ± 0.9 km deep source below the caldera centre, and its transfer, between 1536 and 1538, to a 3.8 ± 0.6 km deep magmatic source ~4 km NW of the caldera centre, below Monte Nuovo; this peripheral source fed the eruption through a shallower source, 0.4 ± 0.3 km deep. This is the first reconstruction of pre-eruptive magma transfer at Campi Flegrei and corroborates the existence of a stationary oblate source, below the caldera centre, that has been feeding lateral eruptions for the last ~5 ka. Our results suggest: 1) repeated emplacement of magma through intrusions below the caldera centre; 2) occasional lateral transfer of magma feeding non-central eruptions within the caldera. Comparison with historical unrest at calderas worldwide suggests that this behavior is common.