Campania – Things to Do

Campania - Things to Do

Campania is an amazing place that offers a myriad of things to do, including natural and manmade monuments to see and explore. The gentleness of the climate, the beauty of the coast and the richness of the art and history make Campania a favorite vacation spot when anyone is planning a trip to Italy.

In the region, the word boredom doesn’t exist. There is always something new to discover in this land kissed by the sun and caressed by the sea. The crystalline waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea seem to embrace the cities and villages of Campania, creating breathtaking bays which become even more impressive when admired from the paradisiac islands of the Gulf.

Vesuvius, on the other hand, is overlooking Naples, the capital of the region, a city animated by a peculiar lifestyle, a perfect blend of folklore, traditions, and spirituality.

But Campania is not just Naples and its surroundings. The whole region has a story to tell and places like Paestum, Herculaneum, Pompeii, or Caserta will take you back in time to long-forgotten ages.

Festivals & Events

Campania is a marvelous land characterized by a mild and dry climate and an enchanting landscape made of hills and valleys, green mountains, cultivated terraces, steep cliffs and a crystalline sea. Besides the idyllic landscape, Campania is also characterized by ancient traditions, a rich cultural heritage, and a vast artistic patrimony.

In this territory, numerous festivals and events are held each year, such as patron saint festivals, carnivals, and numerous spiritual processions with secular origins. Most of the festivals take place in summer or autumn and promote the delicious local products, while the Christmas season is renowned for its festivities that are unique not only in Italy, but in the world.

Probably the most important traditional festival to mention is the celebration of San Gennaro which takes place on the first Sunday of May and also on the 19th of September and the 16th of December. This famous event is celebrated each year since the end of the fourteenth century and it is believed that the liquefaction of the blood of the saint brings wealth and other good things to Naples and the region.

Another important festival, celebrated on the first Sunday after the 22nd of June is Festa dei Gigli in Nola. The festival aims to commemorate the return to the city of Bishop San Paolino who was held in captivity in northern Africa, and it is one of the most important Catholic festivals of the region.

To celebrate this day, locals build eight wooden obelisks decorated with blossoms made of paper that are carried by more than 100 men in a solemn procession. The statue of the saint is placed on a boat-shaped pedestal, songs and dances are performed around it, and without a doubt, this is one of the most interesting folkloristic events to attend in the region.

The festival of Sant’Anna in Ischia is another important Catholic event which transformed over the years. The festival is held each year on the 26th of July, and what excites the attention of locals and tourists alike is a parade held on the shores of the sea, in front of the rocks of Ischia Ponte.

After the parade is held the famous Palio di Sant’Anna, a race among various groups. After the race, everyone gathers at the foot of the Aragonese Castle to admire a mesmerizing fireworks show.

Among the patron saint festivals in Campania, one of the most characteristics is the festival of the Madonna delle Galline, held in Pagani, in the province of Salerno. This folkloristic event is a triumph of dances, traditional music, and colorful costumes. Hens are the protagonists of this event, as it is believed that some hens found a precious wooden icon of Virgin Mary while fluttering in the fields.

The icon, dating from the sixteenth century, was placed inside a church and, according to tradition, it soon began to perform some miracles. In the seventeenth century, the locals built a sanctuary dedicated to the Madonna delle Galline and the holy image has been celebrated ever since.

The festival is held each year on the eighth day after Easter and in the two days preceding it. The Virgin is carried through the streets of Pagani and locals accompany it while playing the characteristic tammurriate, musical instruments similar to tambourines. The faithful offer doves, chickens and peacocks to the Virgin Mary as a sign of devotion, while enjoying traditional dances and the many events.

The devotion to the Madonna is very much felt in other places of Campania as well, especially in the town of Torre Annunziata where the patron saint is the Madonna della Neve.

The recurrence of this festival falls on the 5th of August and commemorates an event of the fourteenth century, when some fishermen found in their nets a chest containing a terracotta statue of the Virgin with the Child. According to the local folklore, the name of the statue is given by a miracle, as it is said that on that 5th of August it snowed.

The sacred statue, venerated by the people, is also the protagonist of another miracle which took place in the nineteenth century when the holy object protected the town from the lava and ashes of Vesuvius.

Nowadays, the devoted locals take the statue and carry it on the streets of the town, then a fisherman's boat revives the prodigious finding of the statue and the miracle of the lava.

Throughout Campania and especially in the province of Naples, the year-end festivities have a unique and remarkable importance. There are many traditions linked to this time of the year, but probably the most impressive is the Presepe that finds its maximum expression and representation on Via San Gregorio Armeno, a narrow and lively street in Naples.

This place is full of those that are mesmerized by the unique wonders that the local artisans produce with skillful art and craftsmanship. Besides the many statues and objects designed to animate the nativity scene, the municipality also organizes Presepi Viventi, a live nativity scene that has a great emotional impact.

A fun and entertaining event to attend is Palio della Botte in Avellino, held in the month of August. This medieval reenactment involves a race between the seven districts of the city, and the participants have to roll a heavy barrel uphill that weighs about two quintals (or close to 440 pounds). The team who reaches the Fountain of Bellerofonte first wins the race.

A carnival worth seeing in the province of Avellino is Zeza, a one-of-a-kind event that features traditional comic scenes.

Outdoor Activities

Campania is synonymous with numerous outdoor activities that satisfy the demands of those who love uncontaminated nature and unique settlements.

Without a doubt, yachting and boating represent some of the most attractive outdoor activities. From simply admiring the coast from the sea to visiting the region’s famous islands such as Capri and Ischia, the choices are endless.

Among the many boat tours, hiring a sailboat that takes you to the discovery of the Amalfi Coast and other marvels of the region is probably the most characteristic experience. Apart from sailing, diving and snorkeling are two other attractive outdoor activities to perform in Campania.

Palinuro is one of the most popular diving spots in Campania, a place where you can dive up to 40 meters deep. One of the most notable attractions is the Blue Grotto, an 85-meters long and 90-meters wide grotto that amazes newbies and experienced divers alike.

Secca delle Formiche, located between Procida and Ischia, is another amazing diving spot. This reef has an enormous biological interest due to its biodiversity, but also because of its peculiar formation; in fact, the place is a submerged natural arc through which the rays of the sun penetrate the depths of the sea, creating fantastic light effects.

To discover a sort of “Atlantis,” the submerged city of Baia, located only half an hour from Naples, is a diving place that will certainly conquer enthusiasts with its breathtaking beauty. The city was an important Roman center and today you can admire the opulent lifestyle of the Romans preserved under the crystalline waters of the sea.

Diving or sailing are only a part of the many outdoor activities in Campania. Thanks to the rich and diverse territory, the region offers numerous trails and paths to the lovers of hiking. One of the most iconic paths is, without a doubt, Sentiero degli Dei that explore most of the Amalfi Coast along the Lattari Mountains.

Considered one of the most beautiful hiking paths in the world, the trail passes through numerous characteristic villages and offers breathtaking sceneries of natural beauty.

For on-the-road enthusiasts, a wonderful trip to take is between Vietri sulMare, a small town famous for its fabulous ceramics, and Positano, the most beautiful town of the Amalfi Coast.

To admire wild beaches, hidden bays,and a crystal-clear sea, but also many important archaeological sites, Cilento is an area to consider when in Campania. The southernmost part of the coast and at the border with Basilicata, Cilento is one of the most interesting places in the region.

The territory includes the Cilento National Park where the splendor of Greece meets the sophistication of the Bourbon domination in the small villages located throughout the territory.

Last but not least, a hike on Mount Vesuvius offers a unique and unparalleled experience in Campania. The slopes of the volcano hold many interesting trails from a naturalistic point of view, while the heritage of the long-gone civilizations awaits in settlements such as Pompeii and Herculaneum.

Indoor Activities

From the capital of the region to almost-forgotten treasures hidden in small towns and villages, the region is full of interesting attractions and indoor activities that can satisfy all tastes.

Among all the indoor attractions in Campania, the first that comes to mind is the Dome of Naples. Located along the nineteenth-century Via Duomo, this spiritual place is dedicated to San Gennaro, the patron saint of the city and of the region.

Rich in decorated chapels and embellished by Luca Giordano’s paintings depicting God and the Apostles, the Dome is the first and foremost place where Neapolitans go to worship their Holy Patron. Apart from the paintings, the Dome is also decorated with splendid frescoes and sculptures and is a wonderful place to discover, regardless of your religious views.

The statue of the veiled Christ, located in the Chapel of San Severo, is another important artwork to admire. The statue is one of the most fascinating and mysterious works that can be seen in Naples, and it is said that the marble veil that lays on Christ’s body was originally made of fabric and it turned into rock thanks to a special liquid invented by the prince of San Severo, an illustrious alchemist.

The chapel, literally a gem hidden among the alleys of Naples, is worth seeing, beyond the veiled Christ. The place is full of esoteric and religious symbols and one of the most characteristic chapels in Campania.

In Naples, two alternative places to visit are some of the artistically decorated subway stops and also the underground Naples, a series of ruins and archaeological findings buried underneath the modern city.

Close to Campania’s capital, an important site to discover is Reggia di Caserta, one of the most important monuments of the Italian artistic heritage, and it is also an UNESCO World Heritage site.

The royal palace was designed by architect Luigi Vanvitelli in the eighteenth century on the orders of Charles III of Bourbon. The result is an architectural masterpiece that boasts impressive decorations and many important works of art such as bas-reliefs, frescoes, sculptures and inlaid floors.

If the weather is good, the wonderful Park of the Palace is a must for discovering an impressive example of Italian gardens structured in meadows, flowerbeds, ponds and fountains. Next to it, a beautiful English garden is a true heaven for the lovers of nature and boasts a rich collection of indigenous and exotic plants.

Apart from these iconic landmarks of the region, throughout Campania, there are many other sites to see, such as the Aragonese Castle in Ischia, Villa Cimbrone in Ravello, and many other attractions.

Shopping in Campania

Whether looking for authentic souvenirs, designer bargains or unique local fashions, Campania is a great place for the shopping enthusiast.

One of the most popular shopping centers, located close to Naples, is Outlet La Reggia in Caserta. The outlet sells cheap designer clothes and accessories and it represents a true attraction for tourists and locals alike.

In terms of fashion, and more precisely in terms of beach and summer fashion, Positano is a place to discover.  The town is renowned all over the world for its unique garments and here it is easy to find splendid dresses, sandals, and other fashion accessories.

If you are looking for something authentic, Via San Gregorio Armeni in Naples is the place to go. Along this narrow and crowded street, there are many artisan shops that sell characters and items mostly related to the nativity, but also to important Italian and international personalities.

Vietri sulMare is the place to find unique ceramic objects that are famous all over the world for their unique beauty and quality.

Sorrento and the province represent the perfect place to find local goodies. The symbol of the area is Limoncino, a liquor famous all over Italy. In fact, Limoncino is easy to find anywhere in Southern Italy, yet the one from Sorrento is different thanks to the unique flavor of the lemons that grow in the Peninsula of Sorrento.

Campania With the Kids

Campania is a great region for families with kids. Besides the numerous outdoor and indoor activities that are suitable for both adults and children, the little ones can also have a lot of fun in one of the theme parks opened throughout the region.

One of the most interesting things to do with the kids is to visit the ruins of Herculaneum and Pompeii, two fascinating archaeological sites where the little ones will not only have fun, but will also learn about the lifestyle and customs of the ancient Romans.

A trip to the Vesuvius National Park is another great way of keeping the kids entertained while teaching them about volcanoes and history.

A stone’s throw away from Naples, Museo Nazionale Ferroviario di Pietrarsa is a place where kids will certainly have fun discovering the evolution of trains and railway services.

Among the many theme parks, Vesuviuslandia stands out. Located close to the Vesuvius National Park, Vesuviuslandia is a place where kids can have fun while parents relax in all tranquility. The theme park is suitable even for the smallest ones, there is no entrance fee and all the carousels and rides work with tokens.

Unique Experiences in Campania

Campania is a land of unique experiences, but some of them are a must to truly understand the complexity of this amazing region.

One of the best experiences to live in Campania is driving along one of the scenic routes that cross the Amalfi Coast from one end to the other. Hiring a car or a moped is easy, and admiring mesmerizing sunsets from the heights of the Sorrento or Amalfi coasts is priceless.

Since Campania is synonymous with exquisite food, learning how to bake a traditional pizza is another unique experience in Campania. There are many cooking classes to attend.

But after all, living Campania is a unique experience in itself. From sipping a glass of Limoncino in Sorrento to tasting a delicious Caprese salad on a terrace in the Piazzetta of Capri, every second spent in this region will be a lasting memory.