Naples in one day

cheap
one day
December 2016
to me, the best cuisine in the world!
hundreds of monuments and historic buildings
wide angle

I started my blog two years ago. I wrote several posts on the most diverse places, I easily told every day about my adoptive city, London, without ever - EVER - dare to talk about my Naples.
Got it? Never!
I've taken many pictures because the city is so beautiful that my finger presses the shutter button automatically. But then the words don't come out: Naples scares 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 telling you about the beautiful walk I had with these two chaps here 😁

Fabio and Bruna, two travel bloggers I met thanks to our common passions: travel, photography and blogging.
A wonderful 8 hours long walk, 25 km covered in 30k steps between the beauties of the historic centre of Naples.

So I'm going to tell you how to visit Naples in one day, clarifying that 8 hours are absolutely not enough to fully enjoy the city.
Ok then, I'll try...
Be nice! 😅

Duomo, Naples Cathedral

We met at Piazza Garibaldi station, walked Corso Umberto I and, chatting and laughing, we got to Piazza Nicola Amore, climbed Via Duomo ending up at Naples Cathedral.
I had not been there for 15 years!
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 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, indeed, the worshippers come from all around the Neapolitan territory 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?
I ... don't, really 😅
But it's always nice to know the traditions and popular beliefs!

One of the things that struck me the most is the dome of the Royal Chapel of San Gennaro's Treasure, decorated with frescoes dating back to 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 going there 😉

Via San Biagio dei Librai

Then we plunged into the cheerful and chaotic Via San Biagio dei Librai, to enjoy a delicious 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, we found 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 kilometre 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 pedestrian 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!! 😊

But people, during my Neapolitan jaunts I was unaware that I was placing my ass 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

It was time for lunch ... or, better saying, someone was getting agitated 😆. You guys must know that my friend Fabio suffers from "queue-phobia" (he could never live in London 😂) so at 12.30pm we headed to Pizzeria da Attilio, in Via Pignasecca, to skip the lunchtime queue. We actually found no queue at all, so we immediately had our table. This pizza is soft and light, the service is fast and the prices are absolutely reasonable! Recommended!

(And if you're wondering what time is the lunch break in Naples, I can confirm it's from 1.30-2 pm onwards 😁)

Happy and fulfilled, we headed to Via San Biagio dei Librai to reach San Gregorio Armeno, a must-see during Christmas holidays!
This street hosts the best artisans specialized in handcrafted nativity scenes.
Although December 25th was gone, the street was crowded and the Christmas atmosphere was more lively than ever. I had to jostle a lot 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 as crowded and magical as I remembered, nothing seems to have changed, except for some new characters added every year.

Via dei Tribunali

Leaving San Gregorio Armeno, a bit dazed, we found ourselves in Via dei Tribunali.
It took me very little to recover from the dazzling chaos, actually: an inviting sweet smell came from Pasticceria Capparelli, a cake shop specialized in baba'. I couldn't help myself, I had to get one! I felt a bit guilty, but who cares? 😁
Keep on walking and eating our baba', we met a bronze statue of Pulcinella, with a golden nose caused by the consuming touch of the tourists, we walked among dozens of pizzerias, trattorias, bakeries, bars ... thank goodness we've had our lunch already! Yes, because Via dei Tribunali hosts some of the most famous pizzerias in Naples: Attanasio, Sorbillo, Di Matteo, Dal Presidente.

Piazza Bellini and Port'Alba

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

Walking slightly south we saw 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.

Maschio Angioino, Galleria Umberto I e Piazza Plebiscito

From Piazza Dante we went all the way down to Via Toledo, the shopping district, cutting through Via Imbriani and ending up in Piazza Municipio, opposite Naples' Town Hall.
Our attention has been obviously captured by 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 we found 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. 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 fights forever against the rival Pasticceria Pintauro, located close by, battling with sweet sfogliatelle ricce and/or frolle.
What's the best between the two types? I leave you to find the answer because thanks to my stupid lactose intolerance I cannot get any of them! 😒

So I closed my eyes, held my nose, pretend not to see or sniff anything and went 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 via Cesario Console you'll see his majesty Mount Vesuvius plunged in the spectacular colours of the sea and the late afternoon sky!
We got to the seafront and walked west, taking pictures and being jealous of the boats floating placidly between the Vesuvius and the coast. We arrived at 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, open the window and enjoy the early morning colours over the Gulf of Naples 😍

Castel dell'Ovo

We managed to get to Castel dell'Ovo just in time: it was almost sunset, we had a short time to take some quite bright pictures before the sun falls behind Posillipo. Despite the clouds, it was 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 have chosen this location as a photo set for their big day.

Metro - Toledo Station

The sun was down, I was tired and my legs hurt. It was time to go home, but not before getting down Toledo Station, one of the most beautiful stations I've ever seen.
From Via Partenope we crossed Piazza Vittoria, took Via Calabritto, passed Piazza dei Martiri, then Via Santa Caterina and Via Chiaia. We turned left into Via Toledo and walked up to the subway station. We bought tickets and went downstairs.
Stop writing now, just look at the pictures ❤

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