Naples Travel Guide

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Map on Partenope Street

Map on Partenope Street

Raymond Longaray

If you're planning a Naples vacation, you probably already know a thing or two about Italy's third largest city. But before you begin your exciting trip to Naples, why not learn a little bit more about this controversial, yet romantic, historic city?

In the shadow of Mount Vesuvius, the fertile crescent of Campania cradles the Bay of Naples and the larger Gulf of Salerno. Some say this is Italy's most spectacular natural setting. A sunny climate, a wealth of historic sights, elegant hotels, and a hospitable populace make the area around Naples a well-touristed domain.

The city's commercial and cultural history has always been strictly connected with the importance of its port. Strategically located, Naples has been coveted ever since it was established as a Greek colony around 600 BC, named "Neapolis" (New City). Conquered by the Romans in 327 BC, it became a favorite residence of emperors and literary personages, including Virgil and Nero. A Byzantine dukedom in the 7th century and later subject to Norman Sicily, Naples reached the zenith of its medieval prosperity when Charles I of Anjou made it his capital in 1266.

Along with his Angevin and Aragonese successors, Charles enlarged the city and embellished it with palaces and churches. The Spanish Habsburgs (1502 - 1704) were followed by the Bourbons, Bonapartes and finally the Savoys, when Campania became part of the unified Italian nation in 1860.

A point of embarkation for immigrants in the past, Naples now has a large traffic of merchandise (petroleum, carbon, cereals) and passengers. In the vast urban area one can distinguish many different neighborhoods: the old center, characterized by buildings closely crowded together, is bordered on the west by the new administrative district and on the east by the business district, into which flows almost all the road and rail traffic. Other neighborhoods, with narrow climbing streets, rise around the base of the San Martino and Capodimonte hills. These neighborhoods have experienced intense development, typically of the simpler kind, in contrast to that of the residential neighborhoods that stretch out comfortably along the Vomero and Posillipo hills.

Compared to other European cities, Naples is a large, chaotic, and sometimes "overbearing" city - but in all these things lie the city's charm. It has its share of petty crime, and derelict areas that visually detract a tourist's point of view. In spite of this, most of Naples' inhabitants know how to enjoy the joys of life. Naples has been compared to Marseilles and referred to as the "Bombay" of Europe. This reputation should not deter potential travelers from visiting Naples, as it is safer than most large American cities and the chaos has been steadily subsiding over the last few years.

Top Ten Things to do in Naples

The Naples Aquarium – Naples Aquarium is an excellent place to spend an afternoon exploring the more than 200 species of marine plants and fish that call the Acquario home. Founded by a German naturalist in the late 19th century, the Naples Aquarium is the oldest aquarium in Europe.
The aquarium sits in the public garden on Via Caracciolo. Stazione Zoologica, Viala A. Dohrn, Naples, Italy, Ph: +39 0 81 583 3111.

Ristorante A’ Fenestella - This is not just a place to have a fine meal – Ristorante A’ Fenestella is an experience you will never forget. Its location, on Marechiaro, at the end of Posillipo's hill, will leave you breathless and the taste of the classic Naples cuisine will linger long after your trip to Naples has ended. Via Marechiaro, 23 - Napoli, Ph: +39 0 81 769 0020, Website: www.afenestella.it.

Teatro Di San Carlo – This 1737 theater is one of the most amazing theatres in Italy to see an Opera performance. The theatre features six levels, 200 boxes, and a stage that opens up to the gardens of the Palazzo Reale (the Royal Palace). Via San Carlo 101-103, Toledo, Naples, Italy, Ph: +39 0 81 553 4565, E-mail: teatresancarlo@sirioservices.it, Website: www.teatrosancarlo.it.

The Phlaegrean Fields (Campi Flegrei) – Campi Flegrei means, “burning fields.” This area is highly volcanic in nature. Although the areas volcanoes are not considered active today, Campi Flegrei still has a good amount of seismic activity – a giant earthquake took place here as early as 1980. Area attractions include: PozzuoliOld City, Pozzuoli Amphitheater, Arco Felice, Monte Nuovo, Cumae, Bacoli, Capo Miseno, and Baia Castle to name a few. To get here, take the Metronapoli Subway ( www.metro.na.it) from Stazione Centrale in Naples to Pozzuoli. The SEPSA Bus ( www.sepsa.it) in Pozzuoli will take you wherever you need to go!

Palazzo Reale (The Royal Palace) – Built by Domenico Fontana at the beginning of the 17th century, Palazzo Reale features eight sculptures of the most important Naples monarchs, as well as a museum -- which has furnishings of the noble apartment on display, 30 rooms, and a chapel. Piazza del Plebiscito, Naples, Italy, Ph: +39 0 81 580 8111.

National Museum of Archaeology (Museo Archeologico Nazionale) – National Museum of Archaeology houses the remains of towns buried by Mount Vesuvius during the eruption in 79 AD. Other pieces on display here, which make the collection the largest archaeological collection in history include artifacts from cities such as Baia, Capri, Capula, Nola, Pompeii, and Pozzuoli, to name a few. Also on site is the Farnese Collection, acquired from Charles of Bourbon at the beginning of the 19th century. This is the largest art collection in Italy. Hours: 9:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m. Address: Museum Square, 19 Napoli, Ph: +39 08 144 0166, E-mail: sanc@interbusiness.it.

Castel dell’Ovo (Castle of the Egg) - Overlooking the Gulf of Naples, on the islet of Megaride is this 2,000-year-old fortress constructed by Frederick II. The site is believed to be that of the Parthenope – the original Greek settlement. Visitor’s can explore the exterior of the castle – which offers panoramic views, but the interior is for private events only. Via Eldorado n. 3, Ph: +39 0 81 795 4593, E-mail: casteldellovo@commune.napoli.it.

Mastroberardino – This 130-year-old vineyard is the most popular vineyard in region. The road trip, only 28 miles, offers gorgeous scenery and you can also do plenty of wine tasting along the way. Besides wine tastings and tours at the vineyard, visitors can also purchase some of the best wines in the world to take home. Address: via Manfredi 75/81, Atripalda Italy, Ph: +39 0 82 561 4111, E-mail: maestro@mastroberardino.com, Website: www.mastroberardino.com.

Piazza dei Martiri (Martyr’s Square) - This monument square is home to a memorial column surrounded by four lion statues. The square, originally dedicated to Santa Maria Cappella, is now dedicated to four different patriotic struggles (represented by the lions) – the Neapolitan Revolution (1799), the uprisings of 1820 and 1848, and the war of unification of 1860.

Via dei Millie, Via Filangieri, and Via Chiala - Surrounding Piazza dei Martiri is yet another Naples attraction -- one of the most upscale shopping areas in the city. Via dei Millie, Via Filangieri, and Via Chiala streets feature luxury perfume shops and boutiques as well as everything from Prada, Gucci, and Versace to Cartier, Louis Vuitton, Damiani, and more. Tip: Head to bustling Via Chiaia and Via Toledo streets for clothes that are a bit more budget-friendly as well as a spattering of cute cafés and tasty little food shops.

Contributors

July 04, 2007 change by lpx

June 09, 2008 change by mcburton

February 25, 2005 change by brian_unc1

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