Naples is a city that enchants you, which keeps you looking upwards, surprising for its amazing beauty, its mysticism and its enigmas. Naples is history and art, but it is also a state of mind that envelops you and accompanies you through alleys and neighborhoods.
Visiting Naples is not easy. The things to see are many and unexpected, your plans will change continuously at the sight of a building, a church or a courtyard or an alley.
What to see in Naples
Naples is of a disarming beauty. Even Stendhal was enchanted 'I'm leaving, I will not forget either Toledo or all the other districts of Naples, in my eyes it is, without any comparison, the most beautiful city in the universe'. There is not an alley, a palace, a courtyard that is not worth a visit. Naples is a city that captivates the senses, with its scents and its views and needs to be discovered and rediscovered calmly.
Naples is melody, it's music, Naples is the silence of Sunday interrupted by the screams of joy for a goal from Napoli. Naples is perfume, that of the 'piennolo' of tomatoes hanging from the air, of the 'rau che pappulea', of fried pizza.
In Naples there are neighborhoods that need to be explored centimeter by centimeter. The old town, unlike many historic centers of art cities, still belongs to its inhabitants who live in all its manifestations, despite being visited and photographed every day by tourists.
There are many monuments to see in Naples, as well as museums of international importance.
The mystery of the Veiled Christ
Wonder in front of this famous sculpture that seems wrapped in a transparent veil so as to give a glimpse of the details of the face and body of the Christ stretched out and tortured. The Veiled Christ is found in the beautiful Sansevero Chapel and its mystery is linked to the alchemical abilities of Prince Raimondo di Sangro who commissioned its realization to the sculptor Giuseppe Sanmartino. According to the legend, it was the Prince who taught him the secret of the marbling of the veil, a detail so realistic that it is said that at the beginning it was a true veil that only a sort of magic made of marble. It is a wonderful sculpture that even led Canova to say that he would be willing to give ten years of his life to be the author.
La Gaiola and the submerged past
Discover that the sea floor of Posillipo is rich in submerged archaeological finds, including remains of ports, nymphaeums and fish ponds, which can be admired on board a boat. The Submerged Park of Gaiola owes its name to the two islets that are located a short distance from the coast of Posillipo and extends from the village of Marechiaro to the Bay of Trentaremi. It is now a protected marine area and one of the most beautiful views in the world with volcanological, historical, archaeological and biological details that merge in a unique way. Its cliffs of yellow tuff and the colorful Mediterranean stain enchant anyone. It is also an important place for research, scientific dissemination and environmental education.
Piazza del Plebiscito, the impossible route
Cross it blindfolded, from Palazzo Reale to the center of the equestrian statues placed in the middle of the square. Its natural slope will make the company really difficult. All the Neapolitans have tried at least once in their life to win this challenge, but no one has ever succeeded. Anyone who has tried has always found himself, once opened his eyes, in a completely different side of the square compared to the predetermined one. According to a legend, Queen Margherita once a month would have granted the grace to a prisoner if he managed to get blindfolded between the two horses of Piazza del Plebiscito, but no one ever completed the route due to a curse of the sovereign who is said to continue today again.
Galleria Borbonica, in raft in the subsoil
Venture on board a raft to immerse yourself in a journey into the past between the ancient cisterns of the 16th and 17th centuries and the tunnels used as a shelter for war. It is one of the various routes that you can choose to cross some of the tunnels of the Galleria Borbonica, an underground path that starts from the Pizzofalcone hill to the San Ferdinando district. The route, called 'Adventure Trail', initially starts on foot and leads into a cistern of 1400 through an ancient tunnel where you can admire hydraulic works and crosses linked to the work of Pozzaro. Shortly afterwards, a second cistern is reached on the bottom of which begins an aquifer that leads to the raft. On board this original boat we will go up the Galleria Borbonica up to a digging of the 800 where you can still read the sentences engraved in the wall by those who sheltered in those cavities during the Second World War.
Walk along the promenade, the most beautiful in the world
Let yourself be carried away by the beauty of the waterfront of Naples and the unique panorama in the world that offers the walk It is a 3 km long route that starts from via Nazario Sauro and ends in Mergellina and inexorably you remain breathless from what you can admire in every step. The gaze is immediately attracted by the imposing Vesuvius that observes the Gulf from above, from the island of Capri that stands out against the backdrop, from the Castel dell'Ovo rising in the middle of the sea, making the landscape even more romantic and complete. the promontory of Posillipo. A view that only Naples can offer because it fuses with perfect balance the wonder of nature with beautiful works created by man. The other side of the Lungomare is full of bars, restaurants and bars where you can relax and is flanked in part by the Villa Comunale, built by Ferdinando IV di Borbone.
Fried pizza, an unmissable specialty
Enjoy the most delicious Neapolitan specialty born in Naples, prepared by the pizza chefs, with the leftovers of the dough, in their 'bass' to feed the poor in the neighborhood. Its history perfectly represents the creativity of the Neapolitans in times of need and poverty, but also their generosity. In fact, this tasty product was born at the time of the Second World War, a period in which even allowing a pizza cooked in a wood oven was economically unsustainable. For this reason, the pizza chefs gave life to the tradition of 'pizza with eight' which consisted of eating fried pizza at the time and paying it after 8 days, the time necessary to collect the necessary money. Here, with what was advancing from pizza dough, the women fry their pizzas to sell them out to the houses.
Climb up, ramp up and down, up and down the Stairs of Naples
Get off and go up from the high areas of the city to the old town and the sea without using public transport, but going along the ancient stairs of the '500 admiring breathtaking views. The set of stairs in Naples consists of a series of ancient pedestrian paths that the people used to reach the center and the coast from the hills and vice versa. There are steps and ramps that are located in different areas of the city and today are like monuments, considered real masterpieces urban planning.Among the most famous are the Pedamentina with 414 steps that join the Certosa di San Martino nel Vomero with Corso Vittorio Emanuele; the Retra of the Petraio connecting the Corso V.E. to another area near the hill of San Martino; the Calata San Francesco from Vomero to Via Tasso. But there are still other very important staircases in the city and traveling through them allows you to discover details of Naples otherwise difficult to notice and to walk quietly isolated from the chaos.
Cimitero delle Fontanelle, among the 'pezzentelle souls'
\Adopt a 'capuzzella' to receive a grace in this suggestive ossuary that picked up the dead of plague and cholera from the 1600s. And bump into the skull of Donna Concetta, called ''a capa che sweats'. Today, the Fontanelle Cemetery is home to about 40,000 human remains of pestilence victims and, over the centuries, around the bones, especially the skulls (capuzzelle), the famous ritual of the pezzentelle souls was born. The Neapolitans, in fact, have a very deep bond with the world of the deceased and in this cemetery required a grace to a capuzzella who decided to adopt, promising in exchange for taking care of it. Even today someone follows this ritual and some of the capuzzelle have become famous, like the aforementioned Donna Concetta and the skull of the Captain.
Coffee, a real ritual
Drink coffee, almost religious ritual to be followed in complete peace and a moment of unrepeatable sociality. In Naples you drink one of the best coffee in the world, not only for the goodness of the drink, but also because it is a real moment of relaxation enriched by the conviviality of the Neapolitans. It is enough to enter a city bar to be enveloped by an irresistible aroma and to immediately understand what are the steps to follow to enjoy an excellent coffee. There are two essential precautions: hot cup and strictly boiling coffee. In addition, every bartender will offer you a glass of water along with the cup and you will need to take a few sips to fully enjoy the coffee. And remember, it should be drunk with very little sugar
Walk through millennia of history at the National Archaeological Museum of Naples
Among the most important archaeological museums in the world as regards the collection of objects from the Roman era, it is an obligatory passage for those who live in the city or come to visit for a few days. Its main collections are the Farnese one with findings from Rome and its surroundings, the Pompeian one with the remains of the Vesuvian area and the Egyptian one, the oldest collection in the world and the second largest in Italy after the one in Turin. Walking through its rooms you will be fascinated by the great sculptures, among which the Ercole Farnese stand out, which also inspired Michelangelo; the Toro Farnese, the largest group of statues arrived to us from antiquity and the Atlas Farnese, which shows Atlas supporting the terrestrial globe. Do not miss the Salone della Meridiana which takes its name from the 1791 sundial that runs through the entire floor and still works today.
Vesuvius as a city’s symbol
The best way to visit Vesuvius is to do it by car. Once you reach the top of the volcano you pay to visit the crater. It may be worth even just to admire the view over the Gulf of Naples from the top. The ticket for the crater costs 8 euros and entitles you to visit with a guide.
Herculaneum and Pompeii for a jump into the past
You cannot visit Naples and not see the two incredible cities buried under the ashes and remained intact over millennia. Pompeii was a large city with a huge amount of shops and a lively cultural and political life. Visiting the excavations if you have a perfect idea. Herculaneum, on the other hand, was a residential town where there were wealthy villas and apartments, a stone's throw from the sea. The excavations are smaller and better kept.
Using Naples as a starting point to explore more beauties
Do not miss a visit to the archaeological park of Cuma, an ancient Greek settlement near Naples. Here you can reach the Antro della Sibilla, a tunnel dug into the volcanic tuff. According to tradition, it was the place where Sibilla Cumana lived, the prophetess of the god Apollo, famous for his oracles which Virgil describes in his Aeneid.
Among the islands, Procida is the closest and easiest to visit during the day. Ischia is the island of the baths; Capri does not need any introduction. By car you can visit the Amalfi Coast and Sorrento and Positano. The best advice when it comes to Naples is to rely on a car rental as public transportation are not that bad and, many Neapolitan beauties are nearby the city centers. Besides that Naples is one of those magical place that will steal your heart for sure having both amazing natural landscapes, tons of history and a unique culture. Enjoy it!