Naples unfolds in the middle of the gulf closed off by the Vesuvius, the Sorrentino Peninsula and the island of Capri, Ischia and Procida. It is one of Italy’s most beautiful cities and in the Mediterranean in general, the third largest city after Rome and Milan, with its fame connected to an extraordinary combination of history, culture, traditions and views of unmatched beauty. Its historical center is UNESCO’s World Heritage Site.
The uniqueness of the city of Naples lies in the fact that it comes with a series of incredible historical and archeological layers which have become a main attraction for national and international tourists. In fact, you can still see the relics of the Greek Partenope, such as the walls of Bellini square, the relics of the Roman town, which you can see especially in the archaeological underground complex of San Lorenzo Maggiore preserving a portion of the Greek agorà as well as streets, buildings and shops from the Roman age. In popular neighborhoods such as Sanità and Quartieri Spagnoli, on the other hand, the Naples of the 16th century is told through crowded streets filled with colors.
The street “Spaccanapoli” (literally Naples’ breaker) – because it divides the old town center in two – is the path that allows to discover all the beauty and charm of one of Italy’s most beautiful art cities, starting from the church of Gesù Nuovo, as well as its unmistakable rusticated facade hiding an ancient mystery, the wonderful church of Santa Chiara with a majolica tiled cloister, the Basilica of San Domenico Maggiore, and the Duomo, a church devoted to San Gennaro where every year on September 19 the miracle of the melting of his blood takes place. Of course, we cannot leave out the crowded via San Gregorio Armeno, with its church and workshops of the craftsmen that create nativity scenes.
The marvels of one of Italy’s most beautiful cities
Naples is also considered the city of castles which once used to be its defense system. Castel Dell’Ovo, built on a strip of land that stretches into the sea, to which the myth of Virgil the wizard is connected, Castel Maschio Angioino, in the harbor area, Castel Capuano, and Castel Sant’Elmo, the big fortress that towers over the city from the Vomero hill, next to which there is the unmissable Certosa di San Martino with the beautiful Cuciniello nativity scene.
The attractions in this art city are galore, and each one of them deserves to be discovered and appreciated. A case in point are Galleria Umberto and Teatro San Carlo, Palazzo Reale, which overlooks Plebiscito square, Palazzo Reale di Capodimonte, with the National Galleries displaying works by Raphael, Titian, Masaccio, Caravaggio, Mantegna and Correggio.
Among thousands of churches and prestigious noble palaces, you should also opt for places that will leave you breathless for their beauty such as Villa Floridiana and Villa Pingatelli, the mysterious Palazzo Donn’Anna stretching into the sea of Posillipo, Villa Carafa of Belvedere or Palazzo dello Spagnolo. Unmissable are also the tours of the Galleria Borbonica, which leads to the exploration of the bowels of Naples, between tunnels and burrows, small lakes and remains of old Greek buildings, and Napoli Sotterranea, in San Gaetano square.
Of course, there are other must-see destination just outside of Naples. A few kilometers from the city, in fact, you can find the towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum which represent two unique sites that following the eruption of the Vesuvius in 79 a.C., were brought to light and whole Roman town centers were recovered. And of course, you should definitely hop on a ferry or hydrofoil and go see the wonderful islands of Capri, Ischia and Procida.
Last but not least, you cannot miss out on the gems that the extraordinary culinary tradition of the area can provide you with. How to say no to a nice delicious pizza or a tasty sfogliatella?