Naples is raw, high-octane energy, a place of soul-stirring art and panoramas, spontaneous conversations and unexpected, inimitable elegance. Welcome to Italy's most unlikely masterpiece that only became part of the new Italy in October of 1860 as part of the Italian Unification movement. For an experience that’s packed with both new and ancient treasures, good food, and stunning landscapes, a summer in Naples is everything you want and more.
Napoli comes from the Greek word Neapolis which means “new city” or “new town”. It was originally given this name by its early Greek inhabitants in the 8th century BC. The city is divided into several districts or zones that are named after their locations or featured attributes. Naples is the capital of the Campania region which comes from the aptly named Campania Felix, the Latin term for “fertile countryside”.
Art & Architecture
Naples' wealth of cultural assets is extraordinary. It is home to three large castles which are known as Castel Nuovo, Castel dell’Ovo, and Castel Sant’Elmo. All three of these castles date back to at least the thirteenth century. You'll also find two royal palaces and ancient ruins that include some of Christianity's oldest frescoes. The city's Museo Archeologico Nazionale claims the world's finest collection of Pompeiian frescoes and mosaics, while its Cappella Sansevero holds Italy's most extraordinary marble sculpture.
You'll find Caravaggio masterpieces in the Pio Monte della Misericordia, Palazzo Zevallos Stigliano and Museo di Capodimonte, the latter palace home to countless masterpieces. Of course, we could also mention all those frescoes baroque cupolas, but that would just be boasting.
History & Legend
Naples' millennia-old backstory could bust a bookshelf. Settled by the Greeks and conquered by the Romans, it's a nail-biting tale where myth and fact entwine into one bewitching whole. Did Queen Joan II really throw her lovers to a peckish crocodile in the Castel Nuovo? Do the skulls inside the Cimitero delle Fontanelle have esoteric powers? And just how did alchemist prince Raimondo di Sangro create those inexplicably perfect arterial systems inside his Cappella Sansevero? Is there really a magic egg buried in a secret location within Castel dell’Ovo. Curious tales and unsolved mysteries seep out of every Neapolitan stone, casting a strange, hypnotic spell.
Blessed with rich volcanic soils, a bountiful sea, and countless generations of culinary know-how, the Naples region is one of Italy's epicurean heavyweights. It's here that you'll find the country's best pizza, pasta and espresso, its most appetizing street markets, not to mention some of its most celebrated dishes. From garlicky spaghetti alle vongole (spaghetti with clams) to sultry ragù (meat and tomato sauce) and silky parmigiana di melanzane (eggplant parmigiana), the food on these streets is all about intensity and pleasure. After all, life is too short for diets, so follow the locals' lead and succumb to your gluttonous whims. The classic Margherita Pizza got its name from Queen Margherita Teresa Giovanni after she visited Naples in the late 19th century. Not to forget, the very first pizzeria in Italy and the entire world, Antica Pizzeria Port’Alba, which was opened in Naples in 1830 and still remains open today.
In Naples, retail therapy is as individualistic as the city itself. Here, global chains still play second fiddle to family-run businesses and artisan workshops. Neapolitan tailors have long lured foreign dandies with their impeccable suits, shirts and ties, while the city's handmade leather gloves are sought by the global fashion royalty. Skinny streets and weathered courtyards are dotted with a plethora of workshops and boutiques, selling everything from butter-soft satchels, organic ceramics and meticulous pastori (nativity-scene figurines), to rare Neapolitan lithographs and gourmet local food and wine. Leave plenty of room in your suitcase.
As the locals say, you never know what you will stumble upon when exploring the winding city streets!
Source(s): lonelyplanet, livitaly, worldtravelguidenet