Where to Discover the Beauty of Naples

Naples, or as it is known by its locals, Napoli, is Italy’s third largest city and can be found on the south west coast of the country. Naples is the capital city of the region of Campania and the province of Napoli. The city itself has a population of roughly 1 million, however with the surrounding suburbs, it is home to more than 3 million.

Naples

The History of Naples

Much like almost every other Italian city, Naples is a destination steeped in fascinating history. In fact, Naples may be one of the most historically rich cities in the country. Founded by a Greek colony in the 7th century, this iconic city is around 1400 years old. It has also been consistently inhabited since its founding, making it one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities. Though the Romans and the Greek colony living in Napoli at the time were on good terms, the Romans made a move to add this to their list of Roman colonies. Unlike many other colonisations though, the Romans had immense respect for the people of Naples and as a result they maintained the Greek language and customs.

The Food of Naples

Pizza

Naples is located near to Mount Vesuvius, which means that local farmers have been able to make the most of the nutrient-rich volcanic soil and produce some of Italy’s very best fruits and vegetables. Along with the thriving ocean that Naples borders, this has led the city to be one of the food capitals of the world.

The humble pizza was invented in Naples and is certainly the must-try food of the city. Beginning life simply as tomatoes added to focaccia, the word ‘pizza’ has origins dating back to 997 AD. The modern pizza we know and love was created in the 18th century and though there have been countless variations made all over the world, the people of Naples still claim to make the original and best versions. The feature that characterises the pizzas of Naples is simplicity; they are not loaded with mountains of toppings but instead showcase the quality and freshness of the local ingredients.

Of course, pizza is not the only thing on the menu in Naples, sweet pastries such as the flaky Sfogliatelle can be found in many of the bakeries and is the perfect accompaniment to a delicious espresso. Or you can sample more savoury delights such as pasta or a Caprese salad. And if you want to see the fantastic ingredients yourself then head to one of the food markets and shop as the locals do.

Top attractions in Naples

Site of Pompeii

To better understand the origins of this wonderful city, a journey to some of its many museums, churches and historical sites will tell you everything you need to know. The National Archaeological Museum delves into the country’s rich history and displays artefacts and relics including some of the eerily fascinating body casts from Pompeii. Of course, you can also visit the site of Pompeii yourself. A visit here is like jumping into a time machine and experiencing the life of the ancient Romans first-hand.

Remaining within the city, you will find many impressive churches such as San Gregorio Armeno. This church can be found on the street of the same name and displays walls covered in religious artwork and ornate gilded decorations and engravings. Another stunning church to see is Gesu’ Nuovo in the heart of the inner city. Built as a palace in 1470 and converted to a church in the 1580s, Gesu Nuovo is an excellent example of Baroque style and is bursting with ornate sculptures and artworks.

If you’d like to take a slightly more unusual tour of Naples then you can venture 40 meters below the surface streets into the underground tunnels and rooms that lie beneath the city. Here lie Greek and Roman ruins dating from 2,400 years ago and as well as air-raid shelters from the Second World War. The geothermal tunnels are fascinating to explore, especially when you have to carry a candle to light your way through the labyrinth.

The Beauty of Naples Today

Home to the largest city centre in Europe, known as the Centro Storico, or Historic Centre, Naples is a UNESCO world heritage site. Even though Naples is the closest major city to the active Mount Vesuvius volcano, it still acts as a hub for travellers from around the world to explore Italy. Since the last eruption in 1944 had little to no effect on the people of Naples and the residents go about their daily lives like anywhere else.

A city built on its ancient history and its modern inhabitants, Naples is a city where you can learn about the cultures of the current inhabitants just as much as the old. Whilst the older architecture is frequently visited, the street art found within the city is also of note. As you walk amongst the streets you will notice that the walls are merely canvases for modern artists such as Bosoletti and Banksy to display their works. Many of these pieces are demanded by the people of Naples and are not illegal graffiti, rather they turn the streets of Naples into a stunning and free art gallery.

Though the city may have the same grime and hard appearance of many others around the world, there is an undeniable charm to Naples that envelops all who visit it. There is no doubt that a visit to Napoli will be one of the most authentic modern-day Italian experiences you will have on your tour of Italy.