Located under the shadow of Vesuvius, Naples is the most vibrant city in Italy—a steaming, bubbling, reverberating minestrone in which each block is a small village and everything seems to be a backdrop for an opera not yet composed.
It's said that northern Italians vacation here to remind themselves of the time when Italy was molto Italiana—really Italian. In this respect, Naples (Napoli in Italian) doesn't disappoint: Neapolitan rainbows of laundry wave in the wind over alleyways, mothers caress children, men break out into impromptu arias at sidewalk cafés, and street scenes offer Fellini-esque slices of life. Everywhere contrasting elements of faded gilt and romance, grandeur and squalor form a pageant of pure Italianità—Italy at its most Italian.
As the historic capital of the region known as Campania, Naples has been perpetually and tumultuously in a state of flux. Neapolitans are instinctively the most hospitable of people, and they've often paid a price for being so, having unwittingly extended a warm welcome to wave after wave of invaders. Lombards, Goths, Normans, Swabians, Spanish viceroys and kings, and Napoleonic generals arrived in turn; most of them proved to be greedy and self-serving. Still, if these foreign rulers bled the populace dry with taxes, they left the impoverished city with a rich architectural inheritance.
Much of that inheritance is on display in the Centro Storico neighborhood, where the Piazza del Gesù Nuovo and the surrounding blocks are a showplace for the city's most beloved churches. Compared to most other great metropolises of the world, Naples has little tourist infrastructure, forcing you to become a native very quickly, which you will if you spend enough time wandering through the gridlike narrow streets of the old center.
Capodimonte and Vomero
The Parco di Capodimonte is the crowning point of the vast mountainous plain that slopes down through the city to…Learn More >
To experience the true essence of Naples, you need to explore the Centro Storico, an unforgettable neighborhood that is the…Learn More >
Chiaia, Santa Lucia, and Nearby
The Lungomare is the city's grandest stretch of city's waterfront. In the 19th century, Naples's waterfront harbored the picturesque quarter…Learn More >