self guided excursion
Do it yourself - Walking tour
A little history
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A little history
(Napoli) is Italy's most controversial city: You'll either
love it or hate it.
Naples, spread along the edge of its marvelous Gulf, is considered, one of the most important tourist centers of Italy.
Neapolis (new city) was built by Greek colonies of nearby Cuma not far from the center of a more ancient people of legendary origin; Palepolis (the old city), whose foundation dates from the 7th century B.C. The Romans were attracted there by its exceptional beauty and marvelous climate, and they built grandiose villas like the famous Lucullo in the region of Mount Echia, near the present Castel dell'Ovo, and villa Vedio Pollione at Posillipo. Virgil wrote the Georgicon in Naples, and expressed the wish to be buried there.
The city was prosperous during the Barbaric invasions and, after the short but glorious Ducal period, it became the seat of royalty. Eight monarchies:
Norman, Swedish, Anjoux, Aragon, those of Ausburg of Spain and Austria and the Bourbon and Bonaparte families contributed to constructing a proud and flourishing capital. In 1860 the Garibaldian triumph confirmed the unity of Italy The magnificence of the Greco-Roman civilizations can be seen in the remains ofthe Theatre of Nero, the columns of the pagan temples, the Tomb of Virgil, and the streets of the ancient part of the city. The first heroic years of Christianity in the Catacombs of San Gennaro; the Basilica of Santa Restituita verifies the glories of Constantine's recognition of Christianity; San Lorenzo Maggiore, San Pietro a Maiella, L'Incoronata, San Giovanni a Carbonara and Santa Chiara represent the mysticism of the middle ages; Castle Nuovo and the Chapel of Pontano indicate the expansion of the city between the 16th and 17th centuries and the Royal Palaces, the villas and the San Carlo Theatre show the prosperity of the 18th century city. ITINERARYStart from the Train station Piazza Garibaldi, this is a vast piazza, which spreads out in front of the station, and is shaded by many trees. In its center there is the monument to Giuseppe Garibaldi by Cesare Zocchi (1904).Corso Umberto I This one of the biggest and most animated of the Neapolitan streets, which is commonly called Rettifilo. It was opened at the end of the 19th century, after the modernization enforced by the cholera of 1884.
From Piazza Garibaldi you encounter, on your right, the church of S. Maria Egiziaca. Built in 1342 and remodeled in the 16th century, it has painting by Luca Giordano, and other artists. Further along the same street is the grandiose church of S. Agostino alla Zecca, begun at the beginning of the 14th century and completed in 1761. Still further on, across the Piazza Nicola Amore and on the left, is the Palazzo Nuovo of the University that was founded in 1224 by Fredrick II of the Hohenstaufen. The new building, with two large bronze sphinxes, one either side of the steps and a relief on the gable depicting Pier della Vigna, by Francesco lerace, was built in 1908. Behind the new building there is the old one once the college of Jesuits, which has a 17th century courtyard and adjoining church of Gesu' Vecchio.Piazza San Giovanni BovioThis piazza has its centerpiece, a liverly Neptune statue designed by Domenico Fontana (1600). On the left side of the piazza rises the majestic Palazzo della Borsa (stock exchange), built in 1905, with the adjoining ancient chapel of San't Aspreno, which was founded by a Greek family on the ruins of Roman Baths.Santa Maria La NovaThe church stands in the street of the same name, next to Piazza Giovanni Bovio. It was built in the second half of the l3th century by Giovanni da Pisa, on commission from Charles I of Anjou, and has often been altered and restored.Via MedinaThis is a broad street bordered by grand palaces and luxurious modern building, topped by skyscraper. On following the street towards Piazza del Municipio, one finds, on the right, the church of the Incoronata, which Queen Giovanna I had built in 1352, on the occasion of her coronation. It was destroyed by bombs during the last war, but has been reconstructed in the original Gothic style.Piazza del MunicipioThere is a Statue of Victor Emanuel II, there is a vine view of Vesuvius, the Castel Nuovo and the building of the Certosa di San Martino with the Castel Sant' Elmo overlooking it. On the west side of the piazza is the imposing building of the Municipio, built by the Bourbons in 1819-25 as the seat of the Ministries. The church of San Giacomo degli Spagnoli is incorporated in the right side of the palace; this was erected in 1540 by the Viceroy don Pedro di Toledo, who is buried inside behind the main altar. On the right of the piazza there is the wide avenue that leads down towards the sea, across Via Depetris which is the street of Shipping agents and banks, and contains the Mercadante Theatre, which is one of the most important in the city, built in 1778 and many times restored since.The PortThis is one of the most important ports in Italy, both for passenger liners and cargo boats. The old port, further on to the East, the New port, which has all the most modern equipment On the Angino Warf, which originates from the time of Charles II Of Anjoy (1302), that faces onto Piazza del Municipio, there is the new Maritime station. Further to the right is Beverello port from which boats depart for the islands of Capri and Ischia.The church of Santa Maria del Carmine
is one of the most popular churches in Naples. It was built in the XII century, but underwent alterations later; the facade is XVIII century, the work of Giovanni Del Gaizo, and on the rights stands the elegant and agile bell tower of 1458 with the characteristic cusp, completed in 631 by the Domenican Fra Giuseppe Nuvolo. Castel Nuovo (New Castle)Piazza del Municipio tel. 081-95-2002, admission lire 10,000. Open Thurs-Fri and Sun-Tues 09:00-14:00, Sat 09:00-19:00
Is also called Maschio Angioino, it was built originally in 1279-82 in French style by Charles I of Anjou. It was almost entirely reconstructed and embellished in 1443-53 by Alphonse I of Aragon who, to commemorate his entrance into the city, added the superb Arch of Triumph which constitutes the entrance to the castle. San Carlo Theatre It is one of the largest theaters of Europe and was built in 1737 for Charles III of Spain and Naples by Angelo Caresale by the Plans of Giovanni Antonio Medrano. The interior was decorated by Ferdinando Fuga and Domenico Chelli. Umberto GalleryOpposite the theatre is the south entrance to the Umberto Gallery, built in 1887-90 from a design by Emanuele Rocco.Royal Palace - (Palazzo Reale)In piazza Plebiscito I, teL 081-589-8216 Adm. Lire 8,000 - open Thurs-Fri and Sun-Tues 09:00-14:00, Sat 09:00-19:00.
This palace was designed by Domenico Fontana in the 17th century, and the eight statues on the facade are of Neapolitan kings. Located in the heart of the city, the square on which the palace stands is one of Naples's most architecturally interesting, with a long colonnade and a church, San Francesco di Paolo, that evokes the style of the Pantheon in Rome.MuseumsNational Archaeological Museum (Museo Archeologico Nazionale).
Piazza Museo Nazionale 18-19. teL 981-292-823 Admission lire 12,000 open Mon and Wed-Sat 9 am-2 pm Sun 9 am-9 pm.
Take the metro to Piazza Cavour. This museum contains one of Europe's most valuable archeological collections also mosaic and sculpture excavated at Pompeii and Herculaneum. The building dates from the 16th century and was turned into a museum 2 centuries later by Charles and Ferdinand IV of Bourbon.Carthusian Monastery of San Martino (Certosa di San Martino) and National Museum of San Martino (Museo Nazionale di San Martino. tel 981-578-1768
Admission lit 9,000 open Tues-Sun 9 am-2 pm closed on Mondays.
Situated on the grounds of Castel San't Elmo, this museum was founded in the 14th century as a Carthusian monastery but fell into decay until the 17th century, when architects in the Neapolitan baroque style reconstructed it. Castel San't Elmo - tel 981-578-4939
built by the Angevins in a strategic position above the city from 1329 to 1343. It was enlarged in the 16th century and today offers a magnificent panorama of Naples and its bay.Castle of the EGG (Castel dell'Ovo) tel. 981-764-5688
free admission Mon-Sat 9 am-3 pm
Porto Santa Lucia (follow Via Console along the seafront from Piazza del Plebiscito to Porto Santa Lucia; Castel dell'Ovo is at the end of the promontory). The 2000-year-old fortress overlooks the Gulf of Naples. The site was important centuries before the birth of Christ and was fortified by early settlers. In time, a major stronghold to guard the bay was erected and duly celebrated by Virgil. It's said that Virgil built it on an enchanted egg of mystical powers submerged on the floor of the ocean. Legend has it that if the egg breaks, Naples will collapse.Santa Chiara - Via Santa Chiara 49. tel 081-552-6209.
Free admission. Mon.-Sat. 8:30-12:30 and 15:30-18:00. Sun. 08:30-12:30.
This church was built in the early 14th century on orders from Robert the Wise, king of Naples. It became the church for the House of Anjou. Though heavily blasted during WWII, it has been restored to its original look, a Gothic style favored by the Provencal architects. The light-filled interior is lined with chapels, which contains a bit of sculpture or fresco from the medieval church, but the best three pieces line the wall behind the High Altar. In the center is the towering multilevel tomb of Robert the Wise d'Angio, sculpted by Giovanni and Pacio Bertini in 1343. To its right is Tino di Camaino's tomb of Charles, duke of Calabria; and on the left is the 1399 monument to Mary of Durazza. In the choir behind the altar are more salvaged medieval remnants of frescoes and statuary, including bits of a Giotto Crucifixion. To the left of the church is the one of Naple's top sight - the 14th century Cloisters of the Orders of the Clares (Chiostri delFOrdine di Santa Chiara. On the piazza outside is one of Naples's several baroque spires, the Gugia dell' Immacolata, a tall pile of statues and reliefs sculpted in 1750.Il Duomo Via DelDuomo 147 - tel 081-449-097 - Free admission. Daily 9am-7pm. Metro: Piazza Cavour.
Consecrated in 1315, the Duomo of Naples was Gothic in style but the facade is from 1800s. The Duomo has access to the 4th century Basilica of St Restituta, the earliest Christian basilica erected in Naples. An even greater treasure is the Chapel of San Gennaro (Capella di San Gennaro), whose altar is said to contain the blood of St. Gennaro, patron Saint of Naples. The church contains two vials of the saint's blood, said to liquefy and boil tree times annually (the 1st Sunday in May, Sept 19 and Dec. 16). San Domenico Maggiore - Piazza SanDomenico Maggiore 8A. - tel 981-557-3111.
Free admission. Daily 7 am- noon and 4:30-7 pm. Bus: El, Rl, R3, R4, VI 0,24,42, 105, or 105r.
This massive Gothic edifice was built from 1289 to 1324, and then rebuilt in the Renaissance and the baroque eras. As you enter from under the apse end, you'll see that the body of the church was overhauled in neo-Gothic style in the 1850's. On your right, you'll find Luca Giordano's Crowning of St. Joseph.
The 1st chapel on the right side is a Renaissance masterpiece by Tuscans Antonio and Romolo da Settignano. The 3rd chapel contains frescoes from 1309 by Roman master Pietro Cavallini. The 7th chapel is the Crucifixion chapel (Capella del Crocifisso), with some Renaissance tombs and a copy of the 12th century Crucifixion painting that spoke to St. Thomas Aquinas. Next door, the theatrical Sacristy has a bright ceiling fresco by Francesco Solimena (1706) and small casket containing ashes of Argonese rulers. What appears to be a right transept is the Chiesa Antica di San'tAngelo a Morfisa, which contains lots of finely carved Renaissance tombs.
On Piazza San Domenico is another baroque spires, a 1737 confection called the Guglia di San Domenico by Domenico Antonio Vaccato. Cappella San Severo. Via F. de Sanctis 19 (near Piazza San Domenico Maggiore). tel. 081-551-8470.
Admission 8,000 L ($4). Wed-Sun 10am - 6pm (to 5pm Nov-June). Bus: El, Rl, R3, R4, V10, 24,42,105, or 105r.
One of Italy's most fanciful chapel, this 1590 chapel is a festival of marbles, frescoes and sculpture by Neapolitan baroque masters. At the center is Giuseppe Sammartno's remarkable alabaster Veiled Christ (1753), one of the most convincing illusions of soft reality crafted from hard stone, depicting the dead Christ lying on pillows under a transparent veil. San Lorenzo Maggiore - Piazza San Gaetano 316. tel. 081-290-580 or 081-454-948 for scavi (ruins).
Admission to church free; scavi 5.000L ($2.50). Church daily 9am - 1pm and 4 - 6:30pm.
Scavi Mon- Sat 9am - 1:30pm. Bus: El, 42, 105, or 105r.
The greatest of Naples' layered churches was built in 1265 for Charles I over a 6th-century basilica, which lay over many ancient remains. The interior is pure Gothic, with tall pointed arches and an apse off of which radiate nine chapels. This is where, in 1334, Boccaccio first caught sight of Robert of Anjou's daughter Maria, who became Fiammetta" in his writings. Aside from some gorgeously baroque chapels of inlaid marbles, the highlight of the interior is Tino da Camaino's canopy tomb of Catherine of Austria (1323-25). Catacomb di San Gennaro (St. Januarius). In the Chiesa del Buon Consiglio, Via di Capodimonte 13. tel. 081-741-1071.
Admission 5.000L ($2.50). Tours daily 9:30, 10:15,11, and ll:45am. Tram: 1 or 4.
A guide will show you through this two-story underground cemetery, dating from the 2nd century and boasting many interesting frescoes and mosaics.
You enter the catacombs on Via di Capodimonte.
These wide tunnels lined with eariy Christian burial became a pilgrimage site when the bones of San Gennaro was transferred here in the 5th century. Along with several well-preserved 6th century frescoes, there's a depiction of San Gennaro (AD 400s) whose halo sports an alpha and an omega and a cross - symbols normally reserved exclusively for Christ's halo. The tour takes you through the upper level of tunnels, passing through several small early basilicas carved from the tufa rock.