Naples

Naples Black Castle.
Overview

Thread your way through the winding streets of Naples' historic centre, Spaccanapoli, dropping into cherub-adorned churches and Naples' grand Cathedral. You'll soon want to return to Naples, however, to visit the collection of Italian art at the Royal Palace of Capodimonte. Not forgetting that daytrip to the fabled island of Capri, just 20 miles into the Gulf of Naples.

Background

Naples' perfectly arched seafront and Mount Vesuvius volcano backdrop has had artists reaching for their paintbrushes for centuries. Set back from the Gulf of Naples, the city's historic centre is bound by a warren of washing-strung streets known as Spaccanapoli. The old centre runs from sprawling Piazza Garibaldi square near the train station across to largely car-free Via Toledo and the Galleria Umberto I shopping arcade. The medieval Castel Nuovo (New Castle) and the 17th-century Royal Palace are closer to the harbour. Numerous churches dot Naples' squares, with main honours going to the 14th-century Cathedral dedicated to St Gennaro, Naples' patron saint.

First-time visit

Tour galleries filled with classical sculptures at Naples' Archaeological Museum and see mosaics, frescoes and relics from Pompeii. Visit the chapels, reliquary and Greek foundations at Naples' Cathedral then dive into the winding streets of the surrounding Spaccanapoli area. Follow ancient Via Benedetto Croce past two of Naples' finest churches - medieval Santa Chiara and High Renaissance Ges Nuovo. Then wind your way down to the seafront to see Neapolitan art at Castel Nuovo (New Castle) and palatial furnishings at the Royal Palace.

Return visit

Visit Napoli Sotteranea (underground Naples) to tour passages and caves underpinning the city. First built by the Romans and Greeks as stone quarries, they were later used as water channels and later still as shelters in World War II. Wander through Naples' Royal Palace of Capodimonte and its fine collection of Italian art, including works by Botticelli, Titian and Caravaggio. Browse the antique Neapolitan presepi Nativity scenes at the San Martino Museum. Buy yourself a miniature Christmas scene on Via San Gregorio Armeno in old Naples, Spaccanapoli. Head to Virgiliano Park for island views of Capri and Ischia, and picture-postcard Mount Vesuvius hovering behind Naples.

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