Naples on foot, from Castel Sant’elmo to Spaccanapoli 

All the largest Italian cities have centuries and centuries of history behind them, which are clearly visible just by observing the structure of the city itself.

Just look at Naples, a city that has expanded to gather almost a million inhabitants, but that in its historic center still sees the strong protagonist of stairs and staircases. 

Some have become truly famous over time, attracting tourists at every hour of the day and night. The perfect example is the famous Pedamentina di San Martino, which connects Castel Sant’Elmo with Spaccanapoli, one of the most important streets of this city. 

An ancient route 

What is Pedamentina di San Marino? This route was built at the end of the Middle Ages, more precisely during the ‘300. It consists of 414 steps. For lovers of the history of architecture we can tell you that the names of those who designed the original project have survived: Francesco De Vito and Tino di Campiono. 

This street, even before becoming the staircase we know today, was not meant to be a scenic spot, but initially had a decidedly more practical purpose. It served essentially to allow easier transport of all the building materials needed to complete the construction of the Certosa di San Martino. Over time it has been used differently: today it is a great point of attraction for tourists who want to discover Naples, but in some periods it has been a strategically important place in the defense of the Castle of Sant’Elmo.

The wonders of the staircase 

Obviously the staircase can be crossed both uphill and downhill, but our advice is to start your route from the highest point, namely from Castel Sant’Elmo and the Certosa di San Martino, and then descend towards Spaccanapoli. These are 414 steps, so making them downhill could be much less tiring. 

You have to walk calmly if you want to experience the pure wonder that can arouse this place. The staircase literally crosses a part of Naples, and around there are green areas and gardens, while the best views of the city pass in front of the eyes. 

Walking along the Pedamentina di San Martino you will have the feeling of going back in time and breathing the most intimate and pure atmosphere of the historic center of Naples, a place that has seen the stories of men and women from all over the world. Even the French poet Baudelaire knew and loved this ancient staircase.

Foto: Unsplash

Visit Castel Sant’Elmo 

Before starting your descent along the staircase you could take advantage of part of your time visiting Castel Sant’Elmo. The construction took place during the fourteenth century, and behind it has a long history of sieges and battles. There have been subsequent changes to what was the initial project. It is in all respects one of the main fortifications of Naples not only for its structure but also for its particular position, from which you can dominate the entire gulf. 

Today Castel Sant’Elmo is available for visits by tourists. It often hosts temporary exhibitions, while inside is the permanent exhibition of the Museo Napoli Novecento 1910-1980, which collects works by many Neapolitan artists of the twentieth century. If you are planning a trip to Naples we suggest you to consult the castle’s website to know what activities and exhibitions are planned during the period in which you will be in the city. 

Getting to Spaccanapoli 

Our walk certainly does not end once you arrive in Spaccanapoli, which is one of the main arteries of the city and deserves to be lived on foot, so as to grasp all the beauty and peculiarities. There are several unmissable artistic and architectural expressions.

The name is not accidental: the street is called so because it manages to divide the oldest and historic part of the city from the areas of new urbanization. In Roman times it was none other than the lower decumanus, one of the ways on which the Romans organized the entire structure of their cities. 

There are numerous cult buildings of great importance for Naples. Among those we cannot fail to mention are the Church of San Domenico Maggiore and that of Santa Chiara. 

How to get to the top of the staircase 

The beginning of the staircase at the highest point is near Castel Sant’Elmo and the Certosa di San Martino, and you can reach this point in several ways if you want to avoid facing the uphill Pedamentina. 

You can take the Metro 1, get off at the Toledo stop and take the Funicular Centrale in Piazzetta Duca D’Aosta. Then get off at the last stop, called Piazza Fuga. From here a few meters walk separate us from the beginning of the staircase. 

For the second route you should also take Metro 1, but you have to go down to Vanvitelli and then continue on foot for almost a kilometer. Whatever your choice you will be in the heart of one of the most beautiful cities in the world

Copertina: Unsplash

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