Squalid and chaotic yet candid and spirited – you can run out of adjectives to describe the city that is the soul of Italy. Far from the touristy citadels of Rome, the uniquely charismatic city of Naples (a.k.a. Napoli) portrays the leisurely pace of life and outlines the beautiful mess. From old and dented cars jostling through nearly lawless cobblestone roads, to freshly washed linens hanging from the rope mechanisms high above dark narrow lanes, Napoli reflects the life of an average Italian household.
Having said all that, the city is one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites, and is home to cathedrals and basilicas with incredible artwork. The museums and graffiti on the walls capture the looming Vesuvius volcano which last erupted in 1940’s.
If you are just passing by or staying a day or two in Napoli, below are some key attractions to check out. And don’t forget to indulge in those famous Napolitano pizzas and gelatos.
Napoli – Brief History
Now one of the largest port cities in Southern Europe, foundation of the city dates back to 9th century B.C. As observed in the urban city structures including the narrow and dark alleys and historic buildings, it has multiple eras and cultures interwoven. There is evidence of the transmission from Greek culture depicted in the excavated Greek city walls to the theaters and cathedrals of the Roman empire, followed by Byzantine and Norman empires as seen in architectures in churches like San Giorgio Maggiore. Naples took shape of its current form under the Spanish rule in the last millennium, with distinctive interior design of the royal palaces, the Archaeological museum and the Duomo di Napoli. Inside the Duomo di Napoli, the Archbishop’s seat, 14th century Frescos by renowned artists can be found in the chapels and the high altar.
Napoli – Top Things To See
While in Naples, Royal Palace and the Underground Tunnels and catacombs are two of the most visited sites. But we must mention the Archaeological Museum which hosts essential information about the ruins in Pompeii and Herculaneum, and contemporary artwork by lesser known artists. The museum itself (with an entrance fee of 12 Euros) may not be well curated as the directions and information is abstruse and difficult to follow, but the wealth of artifacts and artwork is impeccable.
Interesting Info – The portrait of the couple you will spot everywhere, making you wonder the painter and the background for it – here it is: it is one of the most prominent portraits of a real couple from Pompeii before it was decimated by the Vesuvius eruption in 79 A.D., the baker (Terentius Neo) and his wife.
Napoli – Things to Keep in Mind
- Like many other Italian cities (Turin, Milan, Rome), Napoli is home to one of the iconic soccer clubs (Napoli). Napoli fans still idolize Diego Maradona who played for 7 years in the 1980’s. So while you are here, don’t forget to pick up a souvenir featuring Maradona.
- Napoli is quaint port city inhabited by a large diverse population. Street vendors flock the central train station and the nearby areas. Be extremely careful to not walk the dark alleys after sunset, and at all times be cognizant of the surroundings, like you will in any large city.
Napoli Travel Essentials:
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