Naples

The legend tells that the origin of Naples is due to the mermaid Parthenope. That’s why this city keeps the features of an hybrid. Naples is characterized by opposites: good and evil, joy and sadness, beauty and decay. This continue struggle between the two spirits of the city is clear at first sight: in this city you can find both historical memories in the National Archaeological Museum and in the Royal Palace and the worst marks of modernity: chaos and traffic. The religious devotion to San Gennaro is mixed up with the pagan soul of the city, symbolized by the Underneath Naples (Napoli Sotterranea), and San Severo Chapel (Cappella Sansevero), between the “capuzzelle”  (which are skulls)  and the alchemy of Veiled Christ.You’ll find, moreover, breath-taking glimpses and unique way of life, held up by rules that can be applied only here and nowhere else. Naples is a big, free and open theatre even though it isn’t always funny or beautiful. If you want to discover this city you just need to go around, but if you don’t want to miss the best, start to read the 10 things to do and see in Naples.

Spaccanapoli

Spaccanapoli is the street that goes from the "Quartieri Spagnoli" to "Forcella" cutting the city of Naples in a straight line. You can perfectly understand by looking at the city from above San Michele neighborhood, you will see how this street cuts and divide into two the heart of the city. This artery has very old origins: it is indeed one of the three decumani in which the romans, based on the Greek construction, organized the city. Walking through Spaccanapoli is like going through the millennial story of the city. Here there aren't only the ancient palaces, the churches, but also the legends and the unmistakable smells of Neapolitan cuisine. Don't be surprised at anything: along the path of Spaccanapoli you can meet splendid churches and families who live in the lowlands, artists-craftsmen and squatters who sell everything. For a few years, small hotels and bed and breakfasts have sprung up along the way, allowing tourists to experience Naples just like the Neapolitans do. Spaccanapoli is a very narrow street where Neapolitans, tourists and mopeds coexist together not very peacefully, but there is no better place in the city can tell you about the soul of Naples, its essence that is revealed here without tricks. Spaccanapoli is not a tourist postcard: it is Naples.         

The Veiled Christ

The Veiled Christ is one of the most fascinating and mysterious works that can be seen in Naples. It is said that the marble veil on the body of Christ is actually a fabric veil, transformed into rock thanks to a special liquid invented by the sinister Prince of San Severo, illustrious alchemist. Many, however, argue that the surprising effect is all the result of the talent of Giuseppe Sanmartino, the sculptor who created the veiled Christ. The discovery of a secret room and some macabre works, visible in the San Severo Chapel, they helped to give the Prince and the veiled Christ an aura of mystery. The Chapel is worth a visit not only for the Christ but also for the other works present in this little gem hidden in the alleys of Naples: a place rich in esoteric and religious symbols.

  • Open from 9.am to 5.pm , every day
  • Ticket 8.00 euros per person

The Archaeological Museum

First, riding school then seat of the University, the Archaeological Museum of Naples was inaugurated in 1816 and today it is one of the most important in the world for the quality and quantity of the works it houses. King Ferdinand IV intended to create an impressive institute for the arts in Naples and, after more than two centuries, its ambitions can be said to have been realized. The Archaeological Museum, in addition to containing the findings of the excavations of Pompeii, it houses finds from the Greco-Roman age, Egyptian and Etruscan antiquities from the Borgia collection and ancient coins from the Santangelo collection. Do not miss the "Secret Cabinet" which collects ancient frescoes and sculptures dedicated to the theme of eroticism.

  • Open from 9.am to 7.30 pm Closed on Tuesday
  • Ticket 15.00 euros per person

Piazza Plebiscito and the Royal Palace

If there is a symbolic place of Naples, this is Piazza Plebiscito. Over the centuries it has transformed from a simple open country road to a gathering place for the Neapolitans: here medieval tournaments and the Bourbons' "cuccagna" took place to keep people good. Today it is the symbol of the new "Neapolitan Renaissance" freed from cars, it is a strolling place for Neapolitans and tourists who came to admire its grandeur and the two jewels: the neoclassical colonnade of the church of San Francesco di Paola and the Royal Palace. The latter was built in the late 1500 when the news of the possible visit of King Philip III to Naples created a certain agitation. The capital of the Viceroyalty, in fact, had no place to host the most powerful man in the world. After endless second thoughts, the viceroy Don Fernando ordered the construction of a residence for the illustrious guest. The Royal Palace was commissioned to Domenico Fontana in 1600, who delivered it after only two years, although not completely finished. Too bad, however, that the capricious King Philip III changed his mind without warning: he postponed his visit to Naples to a later date. You who are luckier than the King, visit the Royal Apartment, the Royal Chapel, the gardens and the Court Theater.

Underground Naples and Bourbon Gallery

For centuries, from the deep womb of Naples, tuff was obtained to build the city above. The city below, therefore, hides a dense intrigue of ravines, caves and tunnels that tell a parallel story  to the life of Naples on the surface. The underground city served the Neapolitans in many ways: from a shelter during the bombing to a source of water, from a landfill to a place where the criminals hid. In recent decades, a large recovery of the Underground Naples has been underway, which today you can visit on two main routes: from Via dei Tribunali you can access the classic route that crosses the Greek-Roman aqueduct, air-raid shelters, the War Museum, underground gardens and the “Arianna” Seismic Station. The visit to the nearby Roman Theater of Nerone is unique, it can be accessed from a private home by moving a bed under which a trap door is hidden! Always excavated underground but for different reasons is the Bourbon Gallery, commissioned in 1853 by Ferdinand II of Bourbon. The goal was an underground viaduct connecting the Royal Palace with Piazza Vittoria to allow rapid access to the Royal Palace by the troops and an escape route to the sea for the Neapolitan sovereigns. Over time, the Gallery has played the role of anti-aircraft shelter and judicial deposit: along the path, therefore, there are wells, cisterns, cavities, remains of everyday life during the war, huge fragments of statues and old vehicles from the 50s , '60s and' 70s.

Capodimonte Museum in Naples

In 1738 Carlo di Borbone decided to transform his hunting lodge in the “Capo di monte” wood into a Royal Palace - Museum to house the Farnese Collection received from his mother. In fact, even today, walking through the large rooms of the building it seems that the Bourbon family left the house a moment before our entry.  The museum occupies three floors: on the first floor there is the historic apartment and the rich Farnese collection with works by Titian, Masaccio, Botticelli, Raphael, Guido Reni, Brueghel the Elder, Andrea del Sarto and many others. On the second floor there is the gallery with works from 200 to 700: Ribera, Goya, Pinturicchio, Vasari, Mattia Preti, Ribera and the extraordinary "Flagellation of Christ" by Caravaggio. On the third floor there is a collection of nineteenth-century works and contemporary art with masterpieces by internationally renowned artists: Andy Warhol, Mimmo Jodice, Alberto Burri, Mario Merz, Joseph Kosuth, Enzo Cucchi, Michelangelo Pistoletto. Along the way there are collections of everyday objects that the Bourbons used in the Palace. If you still have some strength, at the exit there is a splendid park with a magnificent viewpoint over the city, not surprisingly called by the Neapolitans "the view of Naples".

The artistic Metro of Naples

It might be strange that in a city steeped in history like Naples, some metro stations are on the must-see list. When you visit Line 1 and Line 6 stations, you will understand why. A real museum of contemporary arts open to everyone. The route can start from the new Garibaldi station which connects the Naples Central Station to the city center and to the various districts. Here, the French designer Perrault designed a station with suspended escalators, with predominant glass and steel. You can arrive at the "University" stop, where the Egyptian architect Karim Rashid, inspired by digital languages, created an extraordinary sculpture called "Synapse".  Final stop "Toledo" currently considered the most beautiful station of Europe. With Robert Wilson's "Relative Light" the whole space is illuminated by an extraordinary blue light. Don't miss the Dante stop, Museo Materdei and the others. There are more than 200 works by contemporary artists that can be admired with just one metro ticket.

 

The Cathedral and San Gennaro treasure

In via Duomo there is the facade of the Naples's Cathedral, the place mainly dedicated to the cult of San Gennaro. Filled with chapels of powerful Neapolitan families, the Cathedral is adorned with paintings by Luca Giordano representing the Apostles, Fathers and Doctors of the Church. The Cathedral is first of all the place where there are the Chapel and the Treasure of San Gennaro. This should let you understand how strong the connection between Naples and San Gennaro is. It is an innate and shared feeling that has gone through prohibitions and restrictions over the centuries, always finding its strength. San Gennaro is considered by the Church to be a "Serie B" saint but it is not the same for the Neapolitans. It is an innate and shared feeling that over the centuries has passed through prohibitions and restrictions, always finding its strength. San Gennaro is considered by the Church to be a "Serie B" saint but it is not the same for the Neapolitans. The Chapel and the treasure are the most immediate and important sign of this love for "Yellow Face", the nice name used by Neapolitans to call the Saint, referring to the bronze color of the face of the statue carried in procession. The Chapel has a gate by Cosimo Fanzago, Domenichino's frescoes and works by Ribera. The Treasure of San Gennaro has finally found a location in the place next to the Cathedral, where relics and precious objects are collected that have become oracles of the faith. The Treasury also includes statues, candlesticks and many silver objects that aficionados have jealously protected during the many forays into the city. This is a proof of how the Neapolitans consider San Gennaro a comforting presence, as if he were a dear neighbor.

  • Open from 9.am to 5.pm , every day
  • Ticket 8.00 euros per person

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