Naples is one of the largest and most fascinating cities of culture and art in the Mediterranean. It is the capital city of the region of Campania and is, by size, the third largest Italian municipality after Rome and Milan. The city dominates the Gulf of Naples and extends from the Sorrento peninsula to the volcanic area of the Campi Flegrei giving a very impressive view, with the majestic Vesuvius and, in the distance, three magnificent islands: Capri, Ischia and Procida. In addition to its beautiful landscapes, Naples owes its well-deserved fame to the charm of a historical center that is witness to 2500 years of history. In 1995 it was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Naples is a city where historical and archaeological stratifications create unique and enchanting itineraries. There is little left of “Partenope”: traces of the Greek city from which Naples originates, can be found , for example, in the Greek walls that pass through via Mezzocannone. The Roman ruins, on the other hand, are more numerous. In fact, they can be found in the center of the archaeological area of San Lorenzo Maggiore, which houses part of the Greek agora of the fifth century. B.C. and many Roman findings from the time in which the city was already a ‘metropolis’.
Life in Naples, all that has to do with daily living as well as any activity which expresses its artistic spirit happens in its winding streets and its neighborhoods teeming with life and monuments, from the Sanità and from the Spanish quarters built in the 16th century, a popular area full of colors and folklore, to the itineraries that wind along the main streets . Walking down the street called “Spaccanapoli” (literally “that which splits Naples” because it divides the ancient city in two), visitors can start from the Chiesa del Gesù Nuovo, with its façade retrieved from a 15th century palace, pass through the Basilica of San Domenico Maggiore built during the Angevin period and arrive, walking up via Duomo, to the magnificent Cathedral. Renovated several times to repair the damage from various earthquakes, the Cathedral overlaps pre- existing buildings and owes the vertical upsweep of the façade that can be seen today Enrico Alvino, a nineteenth-century architect. Once inside, it is worth visiting the Chapel of the Treasure of San Gennaro (il Tesoro di San Gennaro) which holds, among other things, relics of the saint’s blood.
A second route starts from Piazza Bellini, an area of literary cafes, follows the medieval porticoes of the Palazzo of Filippo d’Angiò in Via Tribunali and reaches as far as Castel Capuano. It is one of the four castles that dominate Naples together with Castel Sant’Elmo, Castello dell’Ovo and the fortress-palace of Castel Nuovo, also called “il Maschio Angioino“, built under the reign of Charles I of Anjou.
From the Maschio Angioino , turning back, one can start off on an itinerary towards Piazza del Plebiscito, framed by the Basilica of San Francesco di Paola, which emulates the Roman Pantheon, and the Palazzo Reale,the residence of the Bourbons. Other buildings that are worthy of visiting are the Monastero di Santa Chiara, with the splendid decorations of the Cloister of the Clarisse, the religious order living in the monastery. Then there is the Basilica of San Lorenzo Maggiore, which preserves evidence of Greek-Roman structures in the internal cloister, the Royal Palace of Capodimonte (Palazzo Reale di Capodimonte) which houses the National Galleries that contain works by Tiziano, Raphael, Correggio, Masaccio, Mantegna and Caravaggio. Within this area, there are also various museums including the Civic Museum Gaetano Filangieri.
The intense cultural life of this artisitic capital unfolds not only , as well as in museums like il Madre, but along the cafes of the Galleria Umberto I where you can see its bars and pubs brimming with life even in the evening, when Naples becomes the city of university students, musicians, pizza and good company.