Districts of Naples
The city is rich in age-old history and contradictions. As a tourist, you have to decide which of its many attributes you want to focus on: the mysterious and fascinating aspect which has its roots in legends, or the city's more brutal and violent side, which is just as intriguing and displays the wounds of its turbulent history. Perhaps the sunny and easy-going side of corruption appeals to you, or the efforts made to give the city a new cultural and moral code.
The city is divided into 21 zones, and it has so many monuments that the city is rightfully known as an open air museum. Meanwhile, here is a little guide to allow you to choose the most significant places of interest and tourist attractions, should you find yourself in this glorious city, but with time as your enemy.
Quartiere 1: Chiaia - Posillipo - San Ferdinando The places, monuments and landscapes in this triangle are probably the ones that have made Naples famous, and they also offer one of the best itineraries for visitors. The tourist who lands in Naples finds themselves immediately immersed in the scenery of the Piazza Municipio, which is itself dominated by the impressive Castel Nuovo , or Maschio Angioino; Teatro San Carlo , the splendid Galleria Umberto I° , the spectacular Piazza del Plebiscito behind the façade of the majestic Palazzo Reale , the semicircular colonnade, and the domes of the splendid Chiesa di San Francesco di Paola are all close to one another and just waiting to be seen. Heading down towards the sea, you will come upon Santa Lucia and Borgo Marinaro, where the Castel dell'Ovo stands in all its glory.
Quartiere 2: Avvocata - Mercato - Montecalvario - Pendino - Porto - San Giuseppe Naples is characterized by its uniformity in town planning. In fact, the quarters that makes up the ancient center still faithfully adhere to the Greco-Roman plans for the city of Neapolis. In these quarters are layer upon layer of history which unfolds before the eyes of the unsuspecting visitor like the pages of an enormous history book. The alleyways overflowing with life in quarters such as San Giuseppe, Porto, and Pendino are the same ones in which Greeks would trade and build temples during the 4th Century. This is also the area which faces the bay; you must visit and take a long walk along the promenade from Via Partenope past Via Caracciolo until Mergellina, or stop by at Villa Comunale , which is blessed with trees dating back centuries, neo-classical statues, and artistic fountains; it is here that you will find the oldest aquarium in Europe. The most important monument in the zone is the Villa Pignatelli, which today is home to one of Naples's museums. The Museo Civico Filangieri is also located on Via Duomo and is housed inside the Palazzo Como, which was built during the Renaissance. Piazzetta Nilo is situated on Via San Biagio dei Librai, in which you will find a 2,000 year old statue, Statua del Corpo di Napoli . Following the axis of Spaccanapoli you will find other examples of Neapolitan culture: in Piazza San Domenico Maggiore you will find the Basilica di San Domenico Maggiore and numerous palazzi from the Aragon and Spanish era, such as the Guglia which was dedicated to the Saint at the centre. The Cappella di Sansevero is also worth a visit. Piazza del Gesù Nuovo yields such treasures as the Chiesa di Santa Chiara , the Chiostro di Santa Chiara , the 16th century façade of the Chiesa di Gesù Nuovo , and the Guglia dell'Immacolata. The San Giovanni Maggiore was built on the remains of the 4th-century temple of Hercules and faces the piazza of San Giovanni, where the chapel of San Giovanni di Pappacoda houses a stupendous Gothic doorway. Piazza Mercato, the backdrop to dramatic events in Neapolitan history; and Piazza del Carmine. All of these places are representative, but not unique to the zones that developed and grew into the centro antico. The Spanish quarters consist of the elegant Via Toledo with its historic palazzi and churches that contain the masterpieces of 17th-century Neapolitan painters; Piazza Monteoliveto, which contains Palazzo Gravina; the Fontana built in honor of Carlos II of Spain; and the church Sant'Anna dei Lombardi with its wealth of Renaissance treasures; Piazza Dante with the 18th century façade of the National Boarding School il Convitto Nazionale; and Port'Alba , where the lazzari di Masaniello got the better of the cannons of the Viceroy.
Quartiere 3: San Carlo all'Arena - Stella Piazza della Sanità holds the 17th century Chiesa di Santa Maria , under which are the San Gaudosio Catacombs ; the zona dei Vergini e zona delle Fontanelle are ancient areas used for burial in Greco-Roman Naples. Here you will also find the Palazzo Reale di Capodimonte , a palace built in 1738 and surrounded by a large park and wood, which acted as a hunting ground. On the grounds is are some enjoyable museums.
Quartiere 4: Poggioreale - San Lorenzo - Vicaria It is practically impossible to list all the monuments that you will find in the three decumani and the numerous side streets (i cardi) which run perpendicular to them, but mention must be made of the following churches: San Paolo Maggiore which is built upon the foundations of the Tempio dei Dioscuri (two columns of the temple are still visible) and San Lorenzo Maggiore, underneath which are important archaeological remains which the public are able to visit. These two churches are located in Piazza San Gaetano, the ancient Roman marketplace along Via dei Tribunali. The church and street of San Gregorio Armeno are also worth a visit; the church was also built on the site of a temple. Via dei Tribunali ends in front of Castel Capuano, the oldest fort in the city built for Norman kings. Behind it lies the Porta Capuana . Walking along Via Duomo, you will come across the Cathedral dedicated to San Gennaro, the city's patron saint. The cathedral seems to be in a place that does not seem grand enough for such an important building. Corso Umberto I, with the Neo-classical style University of Federico II, the primary university faculties and museums are housed in these historic piazzas, such as Piazza Bovio with the Palazzo della Borsa and the famous Fontana del Nettuno. You will also find the Duomo which incorporates the ancient basilica of Santa Restituta built on the orders of Constantine, and the Battistero di San Giovanni in Fonte which is the oldest baptistery in the western world. Beneath the Duomo lie ancient archaeological sites, which you can visit. The stratification begins with the ancient Greek and finishes with the Middle Ages. The Museo Archeologico Nazionale is one of the most important museums of its kind and is located in Piazza. The Porta San Gennaro is located in Piazza Cavour and is one of the oldest gateways in the city. Via Santa Maria di Costantinopoli has many palazzi such as L'Accademia di Belle Arti and many dazzling churches. In Piazza Bellini one can still see traces of ancient Greek city walls. Other places of interest in the immediate vicinity are: Via Foria; Piazza Carlo III which has an enormous façade (375m long); the Albergo dei Poveri; the Orto Botanico ; Corso Garibaldi and the piazza of the same name, which is now the headquarters of Stazione Centrale.
Quartiere 5: Arenella - Vomero These are hill zones which were developed at the end of the 19th Century as a residential district for the Neapolitan bourgeoisie. Il Vomero underwent radical changes in the 1950s and 1970s, which made it into one of the busiest and most chaotic areas in the city. It is linked to surrounding areas by three funicular railways, and it still retains among some of the city's most important monuments. The Castel Sant'Elmo and the Certosa di San Martino were built around 1350 and dominate the city from above. Today, La Certosa houses the Museo di San Martino , which shows collections, paintings sculptures, documents, and relics of Neapolitan tradition, amongst other things. Villa Floridiana was given by King Ferdinando of Bourbon to his second wife. At the center of this park stands a small palace which is now a museum (Il Museo della Ceramica Duca di Martina). The attentive tourist can't let a visit to the catacombs of San Gennaro escape him. The catacombs were dug from the yellow tuff of the Aminei hills in the Capodimonte at the beginning of the 2nd Century. The galleries, which create a kind of underground basilica, leave a lasting impression on the unsuspecting traveler. The sepulcher of San Gennaro and the tombs of the bishops, amongst whom lies the bishop of Carthage, are also nearby.
Quartiere 10: Bagnoli - Fuorigrotta A modern residential zone where the Rai and the Politecnico have their headquarters, the Fuorigrotta is also the new home of the Universitaria and important sports complexes such as the Stadio San Paolo . The trade show venue Mostra d'Oltremare and Edenlandia a large theme park, are all located here. Bagnoli, a former industrial zone, is now home to the Città della Scienza , one of the old shed steelworks on the banks facing the island of Nisida.
The Province of Naples Outside of the city of Naples, there are fantastic day trips and sights to see via train or boat! The nearby cities of Salerno, Ercolano , Pompei and Sorrento . Looking eastwards, behold the Bay of Pozzuoli along with the islands of Capri , Nisida, Ischia , and Procida , and the historical Campi Flegrei.
Dining Out In Naples
The wonderful Neapolitan food scene is an amalgamation of a history full of splendour and misery, riches and poverty, the fruit of numerous dominations, and the ability of Neapolitans to make a virtue of necessity. An elegant gastronomy which has roots in tastes and habits of the people who produced traditional local products which have now become synonymous with the glorious city of Naples: pizza, spaghetti, ragù, mozzarella, a tazzulella e caffè, not to mention desserts such as babà, sfogliatelle, pastiera (puff pastry filled with cream cheese, barley and candied fruit), and gelati.
Neapolitan cuisine owes much to the city's fertile soil, which offers up a bounteous offering, above all the San Marzano tomato, and the sea, which is the basis for seafood dishes such as the exquisite spaghetti alle vongole (a clam pasta dish), impepate di cozze (a mussel-based dish), and the exquisite soutè, and we haven't even mentioned the grilled fish and seafood dishes or the elaborate fish- and seafood-based soups. Many restaurants serve raw oysters, cannolicchi, and taratufi, which are strictly from Naples.
If you want a traditional restaurant you should head for the Borgo Marinaro area, where the streets wind down to the Castel dell Ovo. Try La Bersagliera or Zi' Teresa .
In Santa Lucia, you'll find exclusive hotels and exclusive restaurants, such as La Cantinella and Caruso ; they all offer wonderful views of the gulf.
Mergellina sits right on the coast and has great restaurants where you can taste the fruits of the sea. The following places are well worth a try: Dal Delicato , Ciro a Mergellina , Don Salvatore , and Al Sarago in Piazza San Nazzaro, where there are other restaurants that are a little more economical.
Sbrescia is in Posillipo and also has a wonderful view. La Sacrestia offers very sophisticated cuisine and Giuseppone a Mare serves traditional fish recipes made with the freshest fish possible.
If you consider yourself to be a true romantic, then Fenestella di Marechio is the place to be. Relax in this beautiful area and feast on Parthenopean cuisine at La Fazenda or A Fenestella .
The Centro Storico has plenty of trattorias to choose from which serve traditional dishes at low prices. These places are less fancy but which are just as welcoming, and you will definitely meet the real Napoletani here! Try Dante e Beatrice in Piazza Dante; Ciro a Santa Brigida close to Teatro San Carlo; or San Carlo (the restaurant), which is close to Palazzo Reale. On Via Monte di Dio in the ancient area of Partenope, there's the splendid Amici Miei . In the heart of the city, you'll find Umberto . If you are close to the station and looking for a bite to eat, why not try Da Mimì alla Ferrovia ?
Pizzerie deserve a mention of own, and Naples is full of them! They differ from the traditional evening eateries and are filled with students, professionals, salespeople, craftsmen - nearly everybody, in fact! They are as busy and as popular as fast food joints, but offer delicious flavours and high quality ingredients. L'Antica Pizzeria in Forcella has large marble tables, and they serve only delicious seafood pizzas (seasoned with garlic, olive oil, tomato, and oregano)and Pizza Margherita with its traditional mozzarella topping.
The creative genius of the Neapolitan pizzamakers is now taking precedence over tradition as they wildly combine weird toppings to make the ultimate taste sensation. Every pizzaiolo (pizzamaker) worth his salt has invented a topping, and each pizzeria includes variations on traditional themes on their menu.