Things to Do in Naples - page 2
One of the most important churches in the center of Naples, Santa Chiara is part of a larger religious complex housing a monastery and archaeological museum. Its most remarkable feature is the beautiful cloister, with elaborately painted Rococò majolica decorations covering the columns, benches, and garden walls.
Shopping is a popular pastime in Italy, for tourists and Italians alike, but don't be fooled into thinking the Italians are always paying top prices for designer duds. They're often shopping at outlet malls, too. Near Naples, the outlet mall of choice is La Reggia Designer Outlet.
La Reggia is located just south of Caserta, near the town of Marcianise, roughly 30 miles north of Naples. The outlet is designed like a modern outdoor mall, with arcades lined with shops on both sides. There are more than 100 shops in all at La Reggia, featuring discounts of 30 to 70 percent off retail prices.
You'll find Italian, European, American and many other international brands, including Armani, Diesel, Camper, Guess, Michael Kors, Prada, Roberto Cavalli, Replay, Timberland and Valentino.
Travelers looking to venture back in time can explore the eight ramps that delve some 33 yards deep into the depths of Chiaia on an incredible tour of the Bourbon Tunnel, or Galleria Borbonica. What was once a veterinary laboratory, and even earlier an escape route from the Royale Palace to a barrack in Via della Pace, is today one of Naples' top attractions for history lovers wanting to gain a deeper understanding of the city's culture and heritage.
Visitors can choose from a number of tours designed to highlight this unique attraction that operated as a military hospital during World War II and even as the Hall Judicial Outpost. Guides share in-depth details and stories while visitors navigate the tunnel's depths. Travelers say that while it can be difficult to find, the experience of stepping back in time and far below the Naples' surface is not to be missed!
Despite the name, Fontanelle Cemetery (Cimitero delle Fontanelle) in Naples isn’t a traditional cemetery. It’s a place of many thousands of burials, but it’s actually an ossuary built into a natural cave in the soft rock underneath the Capodimonte Hill in the early 16th century. It served as a burial ground until the late 1960s.
The bones interred at Fontanelle were painstakingly catalogued and re-organized in the early 1870s, after flooding and mass burials had made the cemetery more of a jumbled mess. A cult devoted to the skulls in the cemetery sprang up, and a church was built at the entrance. Today, visitors can still see the church - Maria Santissima del Carmine - as well as the cataloging work done in the 19th century.
Prior to 2010, Fontanelle was only open to the public on a few days every year. Now, it’s open year-round. Visitors are free to walk through the site without a guide, though joining a tour that includes Fontanelle Cemetery as one of its stops is beneficial to help make sense of the history of the place. Tours that include off-the-beaten-path parts of Naples sometimes include Fontanelle Cemetery.
Ischia is often overshadowed by its glamorous neighbor, Capri, but this island in Italy's Bay of Naples offers many delights, including natural hot springs, beautiful scenery, excellent cuisine, and the resort towns of Casamicciola Terme and Lacco Ameno.
Naples’ elegant Posillipo Hill neighborhood is bookended by two lovely public parks, both dedicated to the poet Virgil: the Parco Virgiliano a Piedigrotta at the foot of the hill and Parco Virgiliano a Posillipo at the top. Both provide a welcome respite from the bustle of central Naples and are a highlight of this residential area.
The hilltop Saint Elmo's Castle (Castel Sant'Elmo) is a stunning architectural relic that overlooks Naples and offers visitors some of the best panoramic views of the city. Hike up the hillside or take the funicular to the top to enjoy the ramparts and on-site chapel. On a clear day, expect lovely vistas across the Bay of Naples.
Once a monastery and now a remarkable museum, the Charterhouse and Museum of San Martino (Certosa e Museo di San Martino) looks over the city of Naples from high above the hill on which it is perched. The impressive structure dates back to the 14th century, when it was first built as a Carthusian monastery. It was expanded in the 16th century, abandoned in the 19th century, and evolved into the museum it is today. The Certosa di San Martino has one of the most celebrated Nativity scenes in the world on display, as well as Bourbon era and Spanish artifacts.
The interior is adorned with frescoes and some of the best Neapolitan art in the world. You’ll find works of Massimo Stanzione, Giuseppe de Ribera, and Battista Caracciolo, among others. Have a look at the intricate mosaic floors, marble inlays, and wood carvings as well.
Tours typically will include viewings of the monastery, monk’s cemetery, cloisters, and church alongside the art. The Be sure to look around at the panoramic views you’ll have of the city and the bay from the top of the hill.
Naples’ Capodimonte Museum (Museo di Capodimonte) contains masterpieces from the Neapolitan and other Italian schools, as well as furniture and decorative arts, and ancient Roman sculptures. With works by Raphael, Titian, and Caravaggio, this museum is a must for art lovers and a popular stop on many private and group tours.
Of the many historic churches in Naples, San Domenico Maggiore is one of the finest, with a Gothic exterior and baroque flourishes inside. In addition to the fortresslike facade and soaring interior, visitors can admire 14th-century frescoes by Pietro Cavallini in the Brancaccio Chapel and the ornate Treasure Chamber.
More Things to Do in Naples
Solfatara is a shallow volcanic crater at Pozzuoli, not far from Naples. Likely the most interesting of the 40 or more volcanoes that comprise the Campi Flegrei volcanic area, the Solfarata first formed about 4,000 years ago and last erupted in 1198. While dormant today, it still emits jets of steam with sulfurous fumes. Solfatara’s thermal waters were once believed to cure a variety of medical ailments and the crater was once home to a volcanological observatory, built in the year 900 by a German volcanologist. Ruins of the observatory can still be seen today.
Solfatara is now a popular tourist attraction with two unique phenomena to witness: the condensation of steam and the rumble of the ground when a rock is dropped just right. A walk around the crater floor takes you past the main fumarole known as Bocca Grande and the mud pit known as the Fangaia, as well as a variety of other fumaroles, mofettes and typical Mediterranean vegetation.
Naples’ paleo-Christian Catacombs of San Gennaro (Catacombe di San Gennaro) are the most important in southern Italy. Used as a burial site from the rise of Christianity until the 10th century, they hold the tombs of many bishops—including Sant’Agrippino, the original patron saint of Naples—and well-preserved mosaics.
Piazza Trieste e Trento is the square to see and be seen in Naples. It’s where the most fashionable Neapolitans and visitors linger over an espresso in the landmark Caffé Gambrinus after perusing the stores along Via Toledo and Via Chiaia, two of the city's main shopping thoroughfares that end in this bustling piazza.
Step back into Naples’ layered history at the Basilica di San Lorenzo Maggiore, a gem of a basilica and monastery with a museum sitting above extraordinary Roman ruins. The basilica has one of Naples’ finest Gothic interiors and lies above the remains of a macellum—an ancient market that feels very much like an underground Pompeii.
In the city of Pozzuoli, just outside Naples, sits the ruins of an ancient Roman market - the Macellum of Pozzuoli - in what is the larger Phlegraean Fields Regional Park.
The market structure was likely built between the 1st and 2nd centuries AD, and was excavated in the 18th century. At that time, a statue of the Greek god Serapis was found among the ruins, so some believed the building to have been a temple. Though it was later determined to be a marketplace, the name Temple of Serapis is also often used to describe the ruins.
Many of the Phlegraean Fields ruins are underwater due to the volcanic shifts in the area over the centuries, and the Macellum was no exception. While there are columns rising high above the modern street level, the ground level of the market itself is well below sea level. The columns show evidence of shellfish, as they were once underwater, too.
The ground level continues to move up and down very slowly, because the market is located near the middle of the volcanic caldera that makes up the epicenter of the Phlegraean Fields. Visitors today won’t notice the shift in ground level, though geologists track the site constantly.
At one point in history, Naples was divided into more than two dozen neighborhoods. Present day city geography breaks Naples into 10 municipalities, but the neighborhood names like Saint Lucia are often still used when referring to various parts of the city.
Saint Lucia refers to the area surrounding the Castel dell'Ovo or Egg Castle. The neighborhood has been the subject and inspiration for some traditional Neapolitan songs, the best-known simple titled Santa Lucia. Numerous lyric renditions are known and recognized around the world.
With Mount Vesuvius looming on the horizon, vibrant Naples stretches along the coastline, beckoning visitors to explore its world-class sights. The city’s busy shipping port makes an ideal starting point for a tour, and is also the gateway for visiting some of southern Italy’s most famous attractions.
In a city home to hundreds of baroque, Gothic, and Renaissance churches, the neoclassical Basilica of San Francesco di Paola (Basilica di San Francesco di Paola) stands out. Completed by Ferdinand I after his return to the throne—and the ouster of Napoleon and his brother-in-law—the church dominates Piazza del Plebiscito with its portico and oculus reminiscent of Rome’s Pantheon.
One of the tallest peaks in the Picentini Mountains, Mt. Terminio (Monte Terminio) is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts and families in summer, when its scenic trails offer a respite from the heat and crowds of Sorrento and Naples. Visitors can explore the trails on foot or horseback to enjoy the summit views, or join a guided truffle hunt.
This small octagonal church is best known as the home to Caravaggio’sThe Seven Works of Mercy. Many visitors come to see the famous Caravaggio prominently hung high above the altar not realizing the extensive collection of other artists on display. Some hang in the church itself, other in the Quadreria, or Picture Gallery.
Pio Monte della Misericordia (Pious Mount of Mercy) is a charitable institution, founded in the early 1600s by seven Neapolitan nobles who strived to help those in need. The organization continues their work today.
The historic center of Naples tumbles so effortlessly downhill toward the sea that you might not know the seafront area actually has a different name all its own—Mergellina.
Mergellina actually used to be a separate town, but when Naples grew it was eventually subsumed by the expanding metropolis in the early 20th century. Today, this neighborhood sits between the foot of the Posillipo Hill and the Bay of Naples. There are many restaurants and hotels in the area, and it's ideal for an evening stroll in the summer.
If you're taking a ferry from Naples out to Sorrento, the Amalfi Coast or any of the islands, it's likely that your departure dock will be in Mergellina. It's not the main port for the big cruise ships, but it's where many of the small hydrofoils and other smaller boats depart.
The 15th-century Church of Sant'Anna dei Lombardi (Chiesa di Sant'Anna dei Lombardi), also known as Santa Maria di Monte Oliveto, is home to some of Naples' best art. With Baroque paintings and an impressive collection of Renaissance sculptures, the church's unassuming exterior gives way to intricately-decorated ceilings and elaborately-adorned walls that evoke feelings of marvel and beauty like a small-scale Sistine Chapel.
Don’t miss the elaborate sacristy, which was done by Giorgio Vasari, or the beautiful chapel at the back of the church—a crowd-favorite. Walk through the building to enter the courtyard, which is adorned with a bronze sculpture of Charles II of Spain and what is considered to be one of the most beautiful fountains in Italy.
There are many churches in Naples, and many of them are worth a visit. Consider livening up your visit to Sant'Anna dei Lombardi on a private Vespa or Fiat 500 tour of Naples' most famous sights.
Located in the Campania region, Avellino is not nearly as well-known as its seaside neighbor Naples. History buffs may recognize the name, as Avellino was heavily bombed area during World War II. Today, it’s a nice getaway for visitors looking to trade coastal views for scenic countryside mountain views.
Agriculture is important in Avellino. Wine grapes, tobacco and hazelnuts are important crops here. That said, Avellino is a fairly modern city, having survived and rebuilt after several earthquakes.
Visitors can hike to the Montevergine Sanctuary, visit Avellino Cathedral or see the remains of the Lombard Castle in Piazza Castello (Castle Square). The main street or promenade is car-free, making wandering and window shopping easy. Avellino also has its own basketball club, so if you’re a basketball fan, it’s worth checking the schedule for any games while you are in town.
Piazza del Mercato has been one of the most important public marketplaces in Naples since ancient Rome. Though the square suffered heavy bombardment during World War II and is now ringed with rather dismal postwar buildings, the vibrant soul of Naples lives on in the bustling street market in the square’s center.
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