Naples Things to Do
Monuments and Museums
National Archaeological Museum of Naples (Napoli)
This museum houses one of the world's great collections of Greek and Roman antiquities. The museum has many priceless artifacts retrieved from the nearby ruins of Pompeii and other archaeological sites located in southern Italy. The collection includes ancient Greek and Roman sculptures, a famous mosaic of Alexander the Great, and a collection of ancient coins, medals, cameos, silverware, and jewelry. A detailed model of Pompeii is also on display. The famous "Tirannicidi" and all the sculptures on show in the "Galleria dei Grandi Maestri" (Great Masters Gallery) must be seen.
Capodimonte Museum and Gallery
Opened in 1950, this museum houses works of art ranging from the 13th - 18th century that belonged to the Farnese family and were inherited by the Bourbon family. The "Roman Collection" includes works of art by Michelangelo, Tiziano, El Greco, Raffaello, and Botticelli and is an essential part of any visit.
San Martino Museum
This museum is in the wonderful Certosa (Carthusian Monastery) of San Martino, and is dedicated to Neapolitan history and culture. There is a very interesting section on nativity scenes displaying examples from the 18th and 19th centuries. The monumental sized "Cuciniello" nativity scene is well worth a visit.
Royal Palace Museum
This is the museum of the seventeenth-century Royal Palace where all the furniture, sculptures, porcelain, and paintings belonging to the Bourbon dynasty are kept. The "Palace's Sacred Art" collection can be seen in the palace chapel.
The Royal Palace and Gardens
This is a wonderful Renaissance style area, dating back to the 17th century. It was the residence of the Spanish Viceroys. The royal gardens are full of tree-lined avenues, shaded by magnolias and Holm oak trees, with rare plants, statues, and "secret gardens".
Reggia di Capodimonte
This palace, ordered by Charles of Bourbon and built in 1738, dominates the whole city and has a wonderful view of the Bay of Naples (Napoli). The building had a dual role, as a museum and as a royal residence, right from the start. The Reggia, the splendid setting for the sovereigns' hunts, still has about 4000 varieties of centuries old trees.
Castel Maschio Angioino
Built towards the end of the 13th century on the instructions of the Anjou family, this castle became an important cultural center where artists and writers such as Giotto, Petrarca, and Boccaccio stayed. The Aragon dynasty expanded the building with two towers and a fantastic Arc de Triomphe. The Cappella Palatina chapel is also worth visiting.
A large fortress from the 12th century that is a dominant presence on the Naples (Napoli) seafront, it was a royal residence for many centuries, and played an important strategic role.
A majestic, six-point star-shaped building that dates back to 1329, it was first used as a prison. It is surrounded by ramparts and forts and stands over the city and a spectacular view from its terraces.
San Carlo Theater
Built in 1737, this is the oldest theater in Europe. Its season includes ballet, opera, and concerts and attracts some of the most famous artists.
Built around the end of the 12th century, the Cathedral of Naples (Napoli) has undergone several restorations over the centuries, partly to repair the damage from earthquakes and also to increase its artistic beauty. The relics of San Gennaro, the patron saint of Naples (Napoli) are kept in the cathedral.
Church of Santa Chiara
This church originated in 1300 and was restored after WWII bombings, but has been restored to its original Provencal Gothic style. In the nearby Convent in Piazza del Gesu', there is a wonderful majolica-tiled Cloister.
Church of San Lorenzo Maggiore
A magnificent building dating back to the end of the 13th century, it was restored in the 17th century. Every Christmas, a life-size nativity scene is set up inside the church.
Church of San Gregorio Armeno
A wonderful example of Neapolitan Baroque art, the church is completely covered inside with frescoes and has cloisters that were designed in 1580 with a beautiful marble fountain in the center.
Church of Gesu' Nuovo
The opulent interior of this church, filled with multi-color marble and with altars inlaid with semi-precious stones such as agate, amethyst, and lapis lazuli, are a sight to be seen.
The best way to get to know Naples (Napoli) is to walk around its ancient streets, discovering the hidden wonders of this amazing city.
The name literally means "Split Naples (Napoli)" because when seen from the top end, it literally splits the city into two parts. SpaccaNapoli is a long straight road and on both sides a tightly packed labyrinth of narrow, charming alleys spreads out. This is the old, working-class Napoli. Walking along the SpaccaNapoli, discover churches, historical buildings, squares, and old tiny craftsmen's shops.
This is an extremely peaceful, relaxing area of the city just the opposite of SpaccaNapoli. The area is full of museums, monuments, shops, and coffee shops. A truly unforgettable experience is a trip on the Montesanto cable railway for great views of Castel'Elmo and the Certosa di San Martino.
Quartieri spagnoli (Spanish Quarters)
When Spanish rule began around 1530, the city underwent a lot of transformations: churches, palaces, and roads were built, including the wonderful Via Toledo, which took its name from the viceroy Don Pedro di Toledo. The Quartieri spagnoli is one of the most fascinating places in Naples (Napoli).
Via San Gregorio Armeno
Famous worldwide as the "nativity scene road", it links the old city center to the main roads. There are some important monuments such as the San Gregorio Armeno Monastery and is also the city center for hundreds of artists' and commercial businesses: sculptors, silversmiths, gilders, and many craftsmen that make figurines for nativity scenes using traditional methods.
Galleria Umberto I
Built at the end of the 19th century, Galleria Umberto is an imposing building with four wings in iron and glass and a wonderful, huge dome in the middle. The style is similar to that of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele in Milan.
This hill, composed of sides of a crater, separates the Bay of Naples (Napoli) from Pozzuoli dalla Grotta Romana. Since ancient times, this area has always been a residential area. Today you can view beautiful villas with their wonderful views over the Bay.
Underground Naples (Napoli)
A "city under the city", underground Naples (Napoli) is exceptionally old. Archeological digs have found artifacts dating back 5000 years. The Greeks built imposing funeral monuments underneath the city, while the Romans built aqueducts, caverns, and tunnels. The public can now visit some parts of these underground areas if accompanied by a guide.
Piazza del Plebiscito
Built in the form of an amphitheater and surrounded by wonderful monuments such as the Basilica of San Francesco di Paola, this recently renovated square is the most magnificent in Naples (Napoli).
This is a spot that is full of life, filled with open-air coffee shops that crowd around the monument. It was built to commemorate the composer of the same name and the archeological site that has brought to light the ancient Greek walls that once stood on the square's site.
Piazza del Gesu' Nuovo
This square is cut in two by SpaccaNapoli, the famous, ancient road in Naples (Napoli). There are some of the city's most important monuments here: Palazzo Pignatelli, the Guglia dell'Immacolata (a huge church spire), the Church of Gesu' Nuovo and the Monastery of Santa Chiara.
Naples (Napoli) is a city that is full of life and that has strong ties with its historical and cultural roots. Many events are organized each year that are linked to the rich Neapolitan culture.
The year begins with Sant'Antuono where in the old center cippi (old things) are thrown in bonfires.
A feast for children, the Befana witch arrives in Piazza del Plebiscito, and stalls sell sweets and "gifts from the Befana", particularly in Via Foria. Naughty children are brought sweet "lumps of coal".
Shrove Tuesday and Carnival, February
Masked festivities for Shrove Tuesday and Carnival are accompanied by lasagna dishes. The Galassia Gutenberg book and multimedia fair opens and the Mostra d'Oltremare offers exhibits, lectures, and cultural events.
Feast of San Giuseppe, March
A bird festival held in Via Medina, with zeppole (doughnuts) in every bar, bakery, and home, it once marked the change from winter clothes to the new spring wardrobe.
There are many Good Friday procession in Naples (Napoli), but one of the most interesting takes place on the island of Procida where the cortege of priests and parishioners leave at dawn from the top of Terra Murata and ends up at Marina Grande.
Easter Monday (Pasquetta)
A ceremony is held at the sanctuary of Madonna dell'Arco, near Sant'Anastasia, east of Naples (Napoli), where barefooted men, known as fuijenti, ask for alms, and a statue of the Madonna is carried on flower-laden carts into the countryside.
San Gennaro, 1st Sunday in May
The procession starts off at the cathedral with the statue of San Gennaro, the patron saint of Naples (Napoli), being carried from the church. The procession is known locally as Inghirlandata (garlanding) because it was traditionally accompanied by flowered decorations, and the faithful would thro rose petals over the statue of the saint.
Feast of the Madonna del Carmine, July
An ancient tradition, the Madonna Bruna is kept inside the church of Santa Maria del Carmine. According to legend she miraculously saved the bell tower from a fire. Fireworks are used to re-enact the miracle and ends with the so-called "burning" of the bell tower.
Estate a Naples (Napoli) Festival, July - September
Features various performance art events and films.
Maggio dei monumenti, April/May/June
Every springtime since 1994, Naples (Napoli) has become the stage for a series of shows and traveling cultural events. During this period, private collections and monuments that are normally closed to the public are made accessible for everyone. Each spring, the Maggio dei Monumenti event has a different main theme and depending on this theme, special itineraries shows and other artistic events are organized in the old city center and in the areas around Naples (Napoli).
Festival for San Gennaro - 19 September
The celebrations for Naples' (Napoli) patron saint usually begin on September 16th and continue until the Sunday after the saint's day, which falls on September 19th. This is an ancient ritual. The first festival is thought to have been held at the end of the fourteenth century, when the blood of San Gennaro, kept by the bishop of that era, returned to a liquid state on the anniversary of the Saint's martyrdom, September 19th. Since then, Naples (Napoli) commemorates the miracle with a fascinating religious procession, with rose petals and silver statues of saints and with more pagan celebrations throughout the city.
Pasta Show, October
An international event entirely dedicated to pasta, this event has recently been held in the Stazione Marittima of the Port of Naples (Napoli) in Piazza del Municipio opposite the spectacular Maschio Angioino. 10,000 square meters of exhibition space containing historical and educational itineraries about pasta and its production processes, exhibitions, debates, shows, and, of course, a chance to taste the products.
All Souls' Day, November
Also called the Day of the Dead, families take flowers to the graves oftheir loved ones. Traditionally, this is followed by a family meal at a trattoria outside of town. This is also the time of year when confectioners make the delicious torrone dei morti (almond nougat).
The day of the Immacolata (Immaculate Conception) opens the Christmas holiday season, and the Cardinal and Mayor of the city lay wreaths on the Guglia dell'Immacolata.
Naples (Napoli) offers some of the finest shopping opportunities in Italy. Naples (Napoli) has hundreds of small artisan shops offering authentic hand made gift and souvenir items. These include shops run by jewelers, silver crafters, stone carvers, engravers, ceramicists, and glove makers. The areas of Via Toledo and Via Chiaia are dotted with fashionable boutiques where high quality, fashionable clothing and accessories can be purchased. Naples (Napoli) also has numerous outdoor markets where many local residents shop.
The Quartieri Spagnoli has the highest number of old craftsmen's shops where you can purchase typical local handmade products including the famous Capodimonte porcelain, cameos, and gouaches (small paintings).
Visit the Via San Gregorio Armeno if you are interested in buying the famous nativity scene figurines handmade in terracotta.
All the great names of "Made in Italy" fashion can instead be found in the elegant area near the Riviera di Chiaia.