A weekend in Naples, what to visit

A weekend in Naples, what to visit

There is no city richer in flavors and aromas, history and culture, with a magical and warm atmosphere than Naples. Unique in the world, the city of Naples is the ideal destination for a weekend of art and good food and, for those who have a few more days, there are lots of places that deserve a visit: Pompeii, on the slopes of Vesuvius, and the terrestrial paradises of the Sorrento Coast and the Amalfi Coast, between transparent waters and villages perched on the shores of the gulfs of Naples and Salerno.

2500 years of history told by palaces, churches, monuments and places of art among which the everyday life insinuates itself with the joy and warmth typical of the Neapolitans. Treasure chest of art and history, Naples holds in its historic center, a cultural heritage so extraordinary that it has been included among UNESCO sites.

San Severo Chapel [Photo credits Museo Cappella Sansevero]

A weekend in Naples can only start from its beating heart: Spaccanapoli and the Quartieri Spagnoli, built in 1500 by Don Pedro da Toledo as accommodation for the troops, today is a popular district from which exudes the most genuine Neapolitan style. Its narrow streets that climb between typical souvenirs and sfogliatelle on display, hide some of the riches of the city, such as the Cappella di Sansevero, where you can admire the famous Veiled Christ, one of the most fascinating and mysterious works you can see in Naples . It is said that the veil of marble on the body of Christ is actually a veil in fabric, transformed into rock thanks to a special liquid invented by the sinister Prince of San Severo, an illustrious alchemist. The Cathedral, which houses the famous Chapel of the Treasure of San Gennaro which, in addition to the two ampoules containing the blood of the saint, includes admirable masterpieces made of precious metals. Also in the heart of Naples we find the Basilica of San Lorenzo Maggiore, consisting of the Agora, the Forum, the oven, the laundry, some taverns, shops and the Aerarium. The monumental basilica was built by the Franciscans and subsequently restored during the Baroque period.

Santa Chiara Convent Naples

Santa Chiara Convent Naples

Also worth seeing is the Monastery of Santa Chiara, where a guided tour will discover the beauties of the Cloister of the Poor Clares, adorned with an unusual decoration, made with colorful majolica, depicting the colors of this land. Among the main squares of Naples, unmissable is the famous Piazza del Plebiscito, where you can admire its two jewels: the neoclassical colonnade of the church of San Francesco di Paola and the Palazzo Reale, designed by Domenico Fontana, home of the Vittorio Emanuele National Library III, the largest in the south of Italy, with very ancient specimens of great value. Behind the Palace, we find the Teatro di San Carlo, temple of great music and classical ballet, whose entry is introduced by the Umberto I Gallery, one of the most elegant in Italy, with marble flooring decorated with refined geometries.

Galleria Umberto Napoli

Umberto I Gallery [Photo credits Raging Wire]

Continuing the tour, it is worth taking a walk on the suggestive Mergellina promenade, from which you can admire Vesuvius in all its splendor and the fishing village that surrounds the monumental Castel dell’Ovo, which you meet along the way. Located on a small island connected by a bridge to the nearby mainland, Castel dell’Ovo is the oldest castle in the city and today it’s the site of exhibitions and congresses. Its cannon terrace offers a wonderful view of the entire gulf. Unmissable!
From the seafront, you can take the funicular to reach one of the most beautiful and prestigious areas of the city: Posillipo, which houses noble villas and gardens and from which you can take beautiful photographs of the entire Neapolitan gulf.

Castel_dell_Ovo

Castel dell’Ovo

The city illuminated by the rays of the sun, hides another city, that is an underground Naples: dug already by the ancient Greeks and then by the Romans who built an imposing aqueduct here, used until 1600. The city below, formed by caves, ravines and tunnels, it’s served to the Neapolitans in many ways: from city shelters during the bombardments to water sources, from landfills to places where criminals were hiding. Always excavated in the subsoil there is the Bourbon Gallery, commissioned by Ferdinando II di Borbone. The goal was an underground viaduct to unite the Palazzo Reale with Piazza Vittoria to allow a quick escape to the sea for the Neapolitan sovereigns. Over time, the Gallery has played the role of anti-aircraft shelter and judicial deposit: along the way, therefore, there are wells, cisterns, cavities, remains of daily life during the war and huge fragments of statues. Near Naples there are also two ancient underwater cities that are possible to visit thanks to scuba diving: very famous is the sunken city of Baiae, a marine protected area.

Napoli Sotterranea

Underground Naples

If you like shopping, then you’ll love the craft creations and fun souvenirs to take home to remind you of Naples and its people. The city-centre streets are lined with shops, boutiques and workshops bulging with wares to suit all tastes, from high-fashion creations to the terracotta statuettes on San Gregorio Armeno street, where the artisans’ creativity peaks at Christmastime. To turn the streets of the city, it’s recommended to move with the Naples subway, a true museum of contemporary art. The individual stops were all designed and built by various architects from all over the world; the Toledo stop is considered by many to be the most beautiful station in Europe. With Robert Wilson’s work Relative light, it’s illuminated by an extraordinary play of lights on the color range of the blues.

Toledo_stop_Naples_subway_[photo_credits_corriere.it]

Toledo stop, Naples subway [photo credits corriere.it]

Naples is also a foodies’ paradise. When thinking of Neapolitan cuisine, the famous Margherita pizza springs to mind, a culinary gem invented in honour of the Queen who gave it its name. Simple ingredients and Neapolitan zest have created one of the best-loved and most imitated traditional dishes in the world! But Naples is and always will be the only place to eat a proper Neapolitan pizza, with deep crusts and a thin base topped with tomatoes, mozzarella and basil from this sun-kissed land. Another jewel of Neapolitan gastronomy is the famous DOP Campania buffalo mozzarella, a fresh cheese strictly hand-made, which melts in your mouth releasing an intense milk flavor. To end with a flourish, a sfogliatella with the creamy filling of fresh ricotta wrapped in a fragrant wrapping of puff pastry, or a slice of pastiera, the most famous Neapolitan cake, and, if you love sweets made with liquor, a babà soaked of rum is the one for you.

Pizza Margherita

Pizza Margherita

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