Things to do

10 reasons to visit Naples

Fri 16 Dec 2016

“Vedi Napoli, e poi muori”. In other words, before you die, you must experience the beauty and magnificence of Naples.

Although Naples was a major part of the 18th century Grand Tour, attracting tourists from across Europe, in recent years it has been overshadowed by cities such as Rome, Florence, and Venice. But Naples deserves to be seen at least once - ideally several times - before you die. Join our Naples tours and you’ll discover that this fascinating city is rich in art, history and food.

From the breathtaking collection of Roman statues at the Archaeological Museum to the delicious pizza at Da Michele, here are some reasons to make Naples your next destination.

1. The Archaeological Museum. The collection of this extraordinary museum is arguably one of the best not just in Italy, but in Europe. Here you’ll find gargantuan Roman statues such as the Farnese Bull, as well as some exquisite mosaics and frescoes from Pompeii and Herculaneum. For anyone interested in Roman art, it’s unmissable.

2. The street life. Naples is an incredibly lively, vibrant city. You could easily spend a day just walking up and down Spaccanapoli or Via dei Tribunali, browsing the shops and people-watching. You’ll see street musicians (and street mathematicians), beautiful churches, unusual statues, artists’ workshops, crowds of locals watching the football, and so much more.

3. The food. If you’re on a diet, Naples is probably one of the worst places you could possibly be. Temptation is everywhere. A mouthwatering margherita pizza and a bottle of Nastro Azzurro at Da Michele will set you back only 6 euros. Neapolitan pastries are delicious too - a rum-soaked baba, or a sfogliatella stuffed with creamy ricotta.

4. The views. Naples undoubtedly has one of the most scenic settings of any city in Italy. Stroll down to the seafront to admire the Bay of Naples, or, on a clear day, take the funicular up the hill and visit Castel Sant’Elmo. This medieval fortress offers spectacular views across the bay; from here you can see Vesuvius, and the nearby islands of Capri and Ischia.

5. The art. The backstreets of Naples are filled with masterpieces, such as Caravaggio’s Seven Works of Mercy or the exquisite Cristo Velato (Veiled Christ) in the Cappella Sansevero. The collection of the Capodimonte Museum, located in a grand Bourbon palace on top of the hill, is also worth exploring in-depth. Highlights include Titian’s Danae, the Flagellation by Caravaggio, and paintings by Bellini, Raphael, Botticelli, El Greco, and many others.

6. The underground city. Did you know you can go rafting on an underground river beneath Piazza del Plebiscito? Or visit a subterranean church dedicated to a purgatory cult on Via dei Tribunali? Beneath the streets of Naples lies a city of underground tunnels - another world. Join our Underground Naples tour (link) to explore fascinating sites such as the Crypta Neapolita (a 1st century BC tunnel) and the legendary tomb of Virgil.

7. The unusual sights. A hospital that repairs broken dolls. An Ancient Greek watchtower in a theatre. A calcified lizard in a church. An underground altar that cures headaches. A garage with 70 vintage Vespas. A cemetery filled with skulls where the Camorra once made oaths of allegiance in blood. Naples is filled with curious sights, many of which are easily missed. Bring a copy of Secret Naples by Valerio Ceva Grimaldi and Maria Franchini, to make sure you don’t miss the strangest sights in the city.

8. The coffee culture. Although Italy is generally renowned for its coffee, it’s particularly good - and strong - in Naples. Take it standing up at Bar Nilo on Spaccanapoli, the home of the famous Maradona shrine, or savour a cappuccino at the elegant Gambrinus. And if you’re buying one coffee, you might as well buy two, seeing as the tradition of “suspended coffee” began in Naples. When you pay for your coffee, you can choose to buy a coffee for a future customer who can’t afford it.

9. The shopping. Via Chiaia and the surrounding streets are filled with clothes stores, ranging from designer boutiques to “pay by the kilo” vintage shops. Via San Gregorio Armeno is known as “la strada dei presepi” - the street where artists show off their handmade nativity scenes. In the weeks leading up to Christmas, tourists flock to Naples to admire these elaborate creations and pick up an addition to their own nativity scene.

10. The perfect base for exploring Campania. Base yourself in Naples and you’re ideally located for exploring the rest of the region. The archaeological sites of Pompeii and Herculaneum are a short train journey away, and Capri, Ischia and Sorrento are also within easy reach. With good transport connections and a wealth of things to see and do, it makes sense to stay in Naples.

~by Alexandra Turney~

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