Naples in one day

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one day
December 2016
to me, the best cuisine in the world!
hundreds of monuments and historic buildings
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mappa con la destinazione
  1. Italy
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  3. Naples in one day

Updated: December 2021

I started my blog years ago. I wrote several posts on the most diverse places, I wrote so many blog posts about my adoptive city, London, without ever - EVER - daring to write about my Naples.
Yes, never!
I've taken tons of pictures because the city is so beautiful that come on, how to resist? But then the words don't come out: Naples intimidates me! It's so rich, full of history, divisive, rough; it's been described through songs, movies, books. What else could I say? Nothing, I tell you what: nothing at all.

Naples is inestimable, the only approach I can have is by suggesting a beautiful walk around the historic centre. So I'm going to tell you how to visit Naples in one day, clarifying that one day is absolutely not enough to fully enjoy the city.

What to see in Naples in one day

On this map, you'll find all the points of interest from the guide below. It's an 8-hour walk, covering just the historic centre of Naples.

Duomo, Naples Cathedral

You can start your walk from Duomo, which is Naples Cathedral.

This Cathedral is one of the most famous and important churches in Naples, known especially for being the mystic place of San Gennaro's blood melting.
San Gennaro is the saint protector of the city, and his bones are kept inside the Cathedral, together with two ampoules containing, apparently, his blood collected after his torture. Three times a year the worshippers come from all around the Campania region to witness the miracle of the melting of San Gennaro's blood, taking place during a religious ceremony led by the archbishop. According to a popular tradition, this miracle is a good premonition for the city, while the lack of melting leads to unpleasant events.
Can you believe it?
I ... don't, really 😅
But it's always nice to know the traditions and popular beliefs!

One of the most beautiful things about the Cathedral is the dome of the Royal Chapel of San Gennaro's Treasure, decorated with frescoes dating back to the middle 1600s. The Paradise is painted with bright colours (although it doesn't look like - in my pictures), crowded with saints and angels in the clouds surrounding the main figure, obviously God. The central nave is also very beautiful and bright, having the ceiling decorated with Jesus' life moments. Art history lovers, you'll find plenty to keep you entertained here 😉

Via San Biagio dei Librai

Head the cheerful and chaotic Via San Biagio dei Librai, to enjoy a deliciously creamy coffee at Gran Caffe' Ciorfito: I think it's one of the best coffee in the world, comparable to just a few others, honestly 😍

Few meters after, on the right-hand side, you'll find the inner courtyard of Palazzo Marigliano, a 505 years old Neapolitan Renaissance-style building, which today hosts the headquarters of Campania's Archives and Bibliography Authority.

Via San Biagio dei Librai is part of Spaccanapoli, a road, over a kilometer long, splitting the old city into north and south. Walking along Via San Biagio dei Librai means to immerse yourself in the most authentic, true, colorful, and noisy Naples; it means to admire the sequence of historic buildings and old churches, be captured by antiques' stalls and shop windows, to appreciate the works of Neapolitan artisans, be seduced by the scents coming from many cake shops.

Mortal sin is to leave Naples with no visit to Cappella Sansevero, a deconsecrated church hosting one of the most beautiful sculptural works of all the time, Cristo Velato.
It is a life-sized Christ, lying on a mattress and covered with a veil that adheres so well to the body to show the wounds of his torture. Thinking that the veiled statue was created from a single block of marble perfectly makes the idea of the mastery of Giuseppe Sanmartino!
You will find the queue and you cannot take pictures of the inside, but it is absolutely worth it! You can get there by walking along Via San Domenico Maggiore, and turning right into Via Francesco de Sanctis.

Piazza del Gesu' Nuovo

Continuing straight, Via San Biagio dei Librai turns into Via Benedetto Croce and ends into Piazza del Gesu' Nuovo, the icon of Naples' historic centre and home to endless nights of parties during my twenties' 😍

At the centre of the square stands Obelisco dell'Immacolata, a 30 meters high monument built thanks to a public collection during the middle of 1700s. Every year, on December 8th, firemen place a crown of flowers on top of the obelisk in honour of the Virgin Mary. The square is entirely pedestrianised and often guarded by municipal police patrols.

The facade of Chiesa del Gesu' Nuovo is very particular, made up of bosses (pyramid-shaped stone blocks, pointing towards the outside) of piperno (a type of magmatic rock). A legend tells that, in the letters engraved on the bosses, there is a musical score that should be read from the right to the left and from the bottom to the top: it is probably a 45-minute concert, called Enigma. How I love legends!! 😊

During my Neapolitan shenanigans, I was unaware that I was placing my bottom on a World Heritage Site! On the facade of Chiesa del Gesu' Nuovo is indeed affixed a UNESCO plaque mentioning:

Naples is one of the most ancient cities in Europe. Its places preserve marks of precious traditions, unrivalled artistic buzz and a thousand-year history. In its streets, squares and buildings a unique culture was born and developed, spreading universal values for a peaceful dialogue between people. Its historic centre, included since 1995 in the UNESCO World Heritage list, belongs to the whole humanity.

Just got a chill down my spine 😍

San Gregorio Armeno

Now head to Via San Biagio dei Librai and reach San Gregorio Armeno, a must-see during the Christmas holidays!
This street hosts the best artisans specialized in handcrafted nativity scenes.
Throughout the year the street is crowded and the Christmas atmosphere is more lively than ever. You'll probably need to jostle a little to be able to take some pictures of the beautiful figurines created by Neapolitan artisans. Their shops are timeless, every visit is a jump back in time, to when, as a kid, I used to go with mom and dad to buy new pieces to expand our nativity scene ❤ It's always as crowded and magical as I remembered, nothing seems to change, except for some new characters added every year.

Via dei Tribunali

Leaving San Gregorio Armeno, you'll find yourself in Via dei Tribunali.
If you feel a bit dazzled after the chaos of San Gregorio, just stop at Pasticceria Capparelli, a cake shop specialized in baba'. Enjoy!

Keep on walking and you'll meet on your left a bronze statue of Pulcinella, with a golden nose caused by the consuming touch of the tourists. Via dei Tribunali is filled with restaurants, trattorias, bakeries, bars and, most importantly, it hosts some of the most famous pizzerias in Naples: Attanasio, Sorbillo, Di Matteo, Dal Presidente. Is it lunchtime yet?

Piazza Bellini and Port'Alba

Via dei Tribunali ends, towards the west, in Piazza Bellini, a very popular area for nightlife with several bars and clubs open until late at night.
In the middle of the square, you can see the ruins of the ancient Greek walls of the city.

Walking slightly south you'll see Via Port'Alba, a little street famous for its historical bookshops.
Where once there was Guida bookstore, closed in 2013 after 95 years of activity, today only a plaque remains, declaring in 1983 the bookstore Guida a cultural good of the Government thanks to its book and publishing business carried out for such a long time.

Castel Nuovo, Galleria Umberto I e Piazza Plebiscito

It's time to go to breathe some sea air!

From Piazza Dante walk all the way down to Via Toledo, the shopping district, cut through Via Imbriani and you'll end up in Piazza Municipio, opposite Naples' Town Hall.
You'll see another icon of Naples: Castel Nuovo, the medieval castle known as Maschio Angioino. Built in the late 1200s, it was called Castel Nuovo to be distinguished from the other two castles (Castel Capuano and Castel dell'Ovo). Rich in history and legends, Maschio Angioino has hosted famous personalities of religious and artistic history such as Boccaccio, Petrarca, Giotto, and the Popes Boniface VIII and Celestine V. Today it hosts the Civic Museum as well as weddings, art exhibitions, concerts and several kinds of cultural events.

Close to Castel Nuovo you'll find Galleria Umberto I, a historic shopping arcade located right in front of San Carlo theatre, named in honour of the former King of Italy Umberto I.

It's time for a sweet break!
Under the gallery you'll find people queuing near the exit to Via Toledo, every day, every month, every year: the credit belongs to Sfogliatelle di Mery, who will fight forever against the rival Pasticceria Pintauro, located close by, battling with sweet sfogliatelle ricce and frolle.
What's the best between the two types? I'll leave the answer to you!

Now walk straight to the beautiful Piazza Plebiscito.
With its 25000 square meters, Piazza del Plebiscito is one of the largest squares in Italy: because of that, it is often used as a location for concerts and large events, electoral meetings, big funerals etc.

The seafront - Via Nazario Sauro and Via Partenope

From Piazza del Plebiscito you can smell the sea ...In fact, just across the square, walking along via Cesario Console you'll see his majesty Mount Vesuvius plunged in the spectacular colours of the sea!
Go to the seafront and walk west, you'll get to Via Partenope, the street with the most prestigious hotels in the city. I cannot even imagine how beautiful it must be waking up at sunrise, opening the window and enjoying the early morning colours over the Gulf of Naples 😍

Castel dell'Ovo

You are now at Castel dell'Ovo: if you're there by sunset, you'll see the sun falling behind Posillipo in a marvellous show 😍
Castel dell'Ovo is the oldest castle in Naples, located on the little isle of Megaride. Borgo Marinari stands at its feet, full of restaurants and bars, dotted with small boats, motorboats and yachts.

The whole area of Via Partenope and its Castle is very romantic and much loved by the Neapolitans, and this can be seen from the daily presence, in warmer months, of young married couples who keep on choosing this location as a photo set for their big day.

Metro - Toledo Station

Don't leave Naples without a quick peek at Toledo Station, one of the most beautiful stations I've ever seen.
From Via Partenope cross Piazza Vittoria, take Via Calabritto, pass Piazza dei Martiri, then Via Santa Caterina and Via Chiaia. Turn left into Via Toledo and walk up until the subway station. Buy a ticket, go underground and get ready to be amazed! ❤


Other ideas on how to spend your time in Naples and around? Here are some ideas:

I hope you enjoyed it, and if you find it useful or need more info, just email me at flavia.iarlori@outlook.com 😉

firma di Flavia Iarlori
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