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NAPLES: A TOWN OF CONTRADICTIONS

Naples is an Italian town of 960,600 inhabitants, capital of the Campania region, it is the third most-populated city in Italy after Rome and Milan and the biggest city in Southern Italy. Its name comes from the Greek Neapolis meaning new city. Its close proximity to many interesting sites, such as Pompeii and the Bay of Naples, makes it a good base for exploring the area. Naples is a lively and vibrant city, full of wonderful historical and artistic treasures and narrow, winding streets with small shops.

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It is situated in a central position almost in the gulf, between Vesuvius and the volcanic area of Campi Flegrei. Founded in the mid-eighth century BC, was among the hegemonic cities of Magna Greece, thanks to the special relationship with Athens, and exerted a significant influence commercial, cultural and religious affiliation on the surrounding Italic peoples so as to become the center of the Epicurean philosophy . After the collapse of the Roman Empire in the eighth century, the city formed an independent duchy from the Byzantine Empire, and later, from the thirteenth century and for about six hundred years, was the capital of the kingdom of Naples. Became the capital of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies under the Bourbons, had a long period of economic and social development culminated in a series of firsts public and technical including the construction of the first railway in Italy. After the annexation to the Kingdom of Italy suffered a sharp decline, extended to the south of Italy.

For historical reasons, artistic, political and environmental is, from the Middle Ages until today, one of the main cultural centers of reference in Europe.

In 1995, the historic center of Naples, the largest in Europe, has been recognized by UNESCO as a world heritage site. In 1997, the Somma-Vesuvius volcanic complex has been elected from the same international agency (with the nearby Golden Mile, which also fall in the Neapolitan districts of San Giovanni a Teduccio, Barra and Ponticelli) among the world's biosphere reserves.

Naples Location and Geography

Naples is in the region of Campania in Southern Italy, about 2-hours south of Rome. It sits on the coast on the northern edge of the Bay of Naples, one of the most beautiful bays in Italy. Its harbour is the most important port in Southern Italy.

Naples is located almost in the center of the gulf, which is dominated by the volcanic massif of Mount Vesuvius and the Sorrento peninsula bordered to the east with Punta Campanella, to the west by the Gulf of Pozzuoli and Cape Miseno, northwest-east from the southern side of the plain bell that extends from Lake Patria al Nolano. The historic city has been developing predominantly on the coast, originally inhabited by the ancient people of Opici, a name that indicates the presence on site of numerous natural caves, which are still visible, including the cave of Sejanus, and to that of Chiatamone and San Giovanni a Carbonara. The first settlement was established by the islet of Megaride, where Greek colonists gave start to the first commercial emporium, which involved the development of the modern city. The Naples area is mainly composed of hills (many of these reliefs exceed 150 meters in height to reach up to 452 m of the Camaldoli hill), but also by islands, coves and peninsulas overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea. The urban area, limited to the west by the volcanic craters in multiples of Campi Flegrei, and to the east by the Somma-Vesuvius, has a complex geological history. The substrate on which rests the city has volcanic origin, and is the product of a series of eruptions of the two complexes. Regarding the group of Campi Flegrei, they are the product of the formation of the characteristic Neapolitan yellow tuff.

Transportation to Naples:

Naples is the main transportation centre for southern Italy with several major train lines. The train and bus stations are in the huge Piazza Garibaldi, on the eastern side of Naples. Naples has an airport, Aeroporto Capodichino, with flights to other parts of Italy and to Europe. A bus connects the airport with Piazza Garibaldi. Ferries and hydrofoils run from Molo Beverello to the islands of Capri, Ischia, Procida, and Sardinia.

Naples has good public transportation. It has a large but crowded bus network, trams, a subway, funiculars, and a suburban train line, the Ferrovia Circumvesuviana, that will get you to Herculaneum, Pompei, and Sorrento.

Naples Food Specialties:

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Pizza, one of Italy's most famous foods, originated in Naples and pizza is taken very seriously here. You'll find lots of great pizza places but be sure you look for one with a wood-burning oven! Spaghetti also became popular in Naples, try it with clams or mussels. Seafood is abundant and very good in Naples.

Naples Weather and When to Go:

Naples gets quite hot in summer so spring and fall are probably the best times to visit. Since Naples is near the coast, it's more temperate in winter than interior cities of Italy.

Naples has one of the best New Year's Eve fireworks displays in Italy. During Christmas, hundreds of Creches or nativity scenes decorate the city and the street Via San Gregorio Armeno in central Naples, it is filled with displays and stalls selling Nativity scenes. On Easter, there are many decorations and a big parade. Two huge religious festivals are held in September, the Festa di Piedigrotta on the 7th and San Gennaro on the 19th. During the summer, there are music festivals, too.

NAPLES' ATTRACTIONS

The National Archaeological Museum of Naples

It has one of the world's best collections of Greek and Roman antiquities, including mosaics, sculptures, gems, glass and silver. Many of the objects come from excavations at Pompeii and other nearby archaeological sites. The museum consists of three main sections: the Farnese collection (consisting of artefacts from Rome and surroundings), the collections of Pompeii (with finds from the Vesuvian area, forming part of the collections especially Bourbon) and the Egyptian collection which, by importance, is located in Italy in second place after that of the Egyptian Museum of Turin. Whether these three areas of the museum that others are made up of private collections acquired or donated to the city in the course of history, as for example, in addition to the aforementioned collections Farnese and Bourbon, the Borgia collection, Santangelo, the Stevens, the Spinelli and other.

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Piazza del Plebiscito

It is the center of modern Naples, it is undoubtedly the most famous square in Naples, but also the largest and the most representative. Yet until the early nineties, it was reduced to a large parking lot, while the area in front of the Royal Palace was a multi-lane highway. The square's name celebrates a plebiscite in which 21 October 1860 Southern Italy, the then Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, was united to Piedmont of Savoy. Before that date, the square was called off Palace, because it stretched in front of the Royal Palace. The square is well defined in its spaces of four buildings: the church of San Francesco di Paola, the Royal Palace, the Palace Salerno and the Palace of the Foresteria. In the center stand two equestrian statues by Antonio Canova, depicting Ferdinand I and Charles III of Bourbon.The area of the square, once called off Holy Spirit even before assuming his current disposition, had always been used to big celebrations, events and festivals. Even today, continuing the ancient tradition, Piazza del Plebiscito is home to the most important events of the city, such as the celebration of the New Year, the new Piedigrotta festival, international equestrian competitions, concerts, political rallies and even the celebrations for the sporting success of the team football Naples.

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Spaccanapoli (Naples Divider)

Spaccanapoli, or Via San Biagio, is the main street that divides Naples and is the heart of the historic center. Teeming with people, the street holds many interesting churches, shops, and other buildings. Originally the heart of the Greek and Roman city, the Spaccanapoli district is a string of narrow, winding streets and is mainly a pedestrian zone, so it's a nice place to wander around.

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Santa Chiara Church

The Monumental Complex of St. Chiara, including the Church, Monastery and Convent, was built from 1310 to 1328 at the behest of the monarch Roberto d'Angió and his wife Sancia of Majorca. The sovereigns, both devoted to St. Francesco of Assisi and St. Chiara, wanted to build a citadel Franciscan monastery in upholding the Poor Clares convent in and adjacent to the Friars Minor. The Church, as the core of the complex, was built with the title of Ostia Santa or Holy Body of Christ, dedication suggested by the Eucharistic Miracle of Bolsena, which occurred in 1264, the designation was changed immediately in Santa Chiara, probably due to the extraordinary number in the monastery of the Poor Clares.

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The Cathedral

The Duomo is a 13th century Gothic cathedral dedicated to Naple's patron saint, San Gennaro. A huge festival is held when a vial of his blood is taken out of its storage place in hopes that it will liquefy. On one side of the duomo is the 4th century Basilica Santa Restituta (the oldest church in Naples) with columns believed to be from the Temple of Apollo, good ceiling frescoes, and archaeological remains from the Greeks to the middle ages. The 5th century baptistery has good 14th century Byzantine-style mosaics.

The construction of the cathedral was commissioned by Carlo d'Angió in 1294, in the place where there were two ancient basilicas: Santa Restituta and Stefania. To make way for the new building, the latter was completely demolished, while the basilica of Santa Restituta was reduced to the role of the side chapel.

The Cathedral in Gothic style has a Latin cross, with three naves divided by pillars upon which pointed arches. At the end of the nave, about a hundred yards long, there is a large polygonal apse. The ceiling of the main nave is panelled in carved and gilded wood, while the aisles are vaulted, with Baroque decorations. The stucco decorations that decorate the whole church are of the end of the seventeenth century.

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The story of the facade is all the more intricate: the Angioina was destroyed, along with the bell tower, by the earthquake of 1349, the fifteenth-century makeover remains today only the main portal, by Antonio Baboccio da Piperno at the end of '700 began work in fact a further renovation, designed by the Roman architect Antonio Senese, while it is the end of '800 that was responsible for the design of the current facade, commissioned by Cardinal Sforza to Enrico Alvino, and inaugurated in 1905.


Sculpture in an aisle

The aisles, with their chapels and niches, witness the various steps in the Neapolitan art and architecture over the centuries. Among the many chapels, two stand above the others in size and artistic importance.

The aforementioned Santa Restituta is of particular historical interest as an example of early Christian architecture incorporated in the current Cathedral: the ancient basilica commissioned by Emperor Constantine-remodeled with stucco and frescoes in the seventeenth century as a result of an earthquake-has three naves divided by columns, and now houses works by Luca Giordano and fourteenth-century sculptures. To the right of the apse there is access to the Baptistery of San Giovanni in Fonte, considered the oldest of the West.


The old chapel of Santa Restituta

Dates back to the first half of the seventeenth century one of the main historical and artistic treasures of the cathedral: the Chapel of the Treasure of San Gennaro, made a vow with the commitment of all the people of Naples, and with the contribution of artists among the most important the Baroque school. It is in this chapel that every year, on the first Saturday in May, is eagerly awaiting the miracle of the liquefaction of the blood of the saint. The gate and the floor designed by Fanzago, the precious marbles, sculptures by Bernini school, silver machined, the altar of Solimena, numerous frescoes and paintings and niches that hold the silver bust and the ampoules with the blood of the chapel of San Gennaro make a real artistic jewel, a concentration of masterpieces of inestimable value. Outside the Cathedral, you can visit the Museum of the Treasure of San Gennaro, which houses many works of art, jewelry, silver donated over the centuries as a sign of devotion to the patron saint.

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The Chapel of the Treasure of San Gennaro

The works for the construction of the presbytery-below-a crypt where the relics of San Gennaro (until then housed in the Abbey of Montevergine) started at the end of the fifteenth century at the request of Cardinal Oliviero Carafa, Archbishop of Naples, and were completed in 1506. The chapel, also called Succorpo, is divided into three naves, is entirely covered with marble sculptures, and is decorated with polychrome floors, reliefs, sculptures and sacred objects, including just the jar containing the bones of the saint.

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San Lorenzo Maggiore

San Lorenzo Maggiore is a 13th century medieval church with extensive Greek and Roman remains underneath. The Basilica of San Lorenzo Maggiore is one of the oldest churches of Naples. It is located in the historical center of the city, near Piazza San Gaetano, or in the area where the site of the Greek agora. It dates back to the thirteenth century and the Gothic interior. Giovanni Boccaccio gave to it the definition of “graceful and beautiful temple”; it is said that here he met Fiammetta in 1334, while in 1346 Petrarch lived in the adjoining convent.

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Piazza del Mercato

It has probably been a market square since Roman times. The square is adorned with two fountains eighteenth-obelisks (on the east and on the west side), and is also graced by the presence of the exedra in the middle of the eighteenth-century church of Santa Croce and Purgatory to the Market., The Church of Sant 'Eligio Maggiore and the Basilica Sanctuary of Santa Maria del Carmine Maggiore are visible from the square. In the square there were two other fountains. One was the dolphin fountain, from which Masaniello harangued the crowd. The monument was bought in 1812 by the municipality of Cerreto Sannita in the square where the main square is now housed. The second fountain was erected in 1653 under the viceroyalty of the Earl of Ognatte, Iñigo Vélez de Guevara. Designed by Cosimo Fanzago, that fountain was greater. Today it is no longer in existence.

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Castel dell'Ovo (Egg's Castle)

Castel dell'Ovo, the oldest castle in Naples, sits in a prominent position on the harbor and is used for exhibitions and concerts. The Castel dell'Ovo (Castrum Ovi, in Latin), is the oldest castle in the city of Naples and is one of the elements that stand out most in the famous view of the Gulf. It is located between the districts of San Fernando and Chiaia, in front of Mergellina area. Its name comes from an ancient legend according to which the Latin poet Virgil - which in medieval times was also considered a magician - an egg buried in the dungeons of the building that kept standing the whole fortress. Its failure would have resulted in not only the collapse of the castle, but also a series of ruinous disaster to the city of Naples.

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Castel Nuovo

It is a huge castle erected in 1279-1282, houses the Civic Museum. Inside are 14th-15th century frescoes and paintings, silver, and bronzes from the 15th century to present. New Castle, better known as Angevin, is a historic castle medieval and Renaissance art, as well as a symbol of the city of Naples. The castle dominates the spectacular Piazza Municipio and is home of the Neapolitan Society of National History and the Committee of Naples Institute for the History of the Italian Risorgimento, housed in the premises of the SNSP. The complex is also located the Museum of the city of Naples, which pertain the Palatine Chapel and museum tours of the first and second floor. The Foundation will Valenzi has its representative office, which opened November 15, 2009 by the President of the Republic Giorgio Napolitano and other authorities, as part of the celebration of the centennial of the birth of Maurizio Valenzi. The castle, finally, is home to the museum of Naples.

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San Carlo Theatre

Teatro San Carlo, known for its perfect acoustics, is the best place to hear opera in southern Italy. Opened in 1737, it's the world's oldest surviving opera house although it was rebuilt in 1816 after a fire. The Teatro di San Carlo, former Real Teatro di San Carlo, often referred to as the Teatro San Carlo is an opera house in Naples, and one of the most famous and prestigious in the world. It is the oldest opera house in Europe still active, having been founded in 1737 and one of the most spacious Italian-style theatres of the peninsula. It can accommodate more than two thousand spectators and has a large audience (22 × 28 × 23 m), five tiers of boxes arranged in a horseshoe over a large royal box, a gallery and a stage (34 × 33 m) . [5] [6] Given its size and structure, was the model for the next opera houses in Europe. Looks out onto the street and, laterally, on Piazza Trieste e Trento, the theatre, in line with other major architectural works of the period, such as the great royal Bourbon, was the symbol of a Naples remarked that his status as a great European capital . The Capodimonte Museum and Park, built as King Charles III's hunting lodge, houses one of Italy's richest museums with a great picture gallery and collection of majolica and porcelain. You can wander around the royal apartments and the surrounding park, too.

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Ercolano

Herculaneum (Ercolano) is a town that was destroyed, along with Pompeii, in the 79AD eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. The site is much smaller than Pompeii. Already severely damaged by the earthquake of 62, the city was destroyed by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79, which covered paying a huge mass of mud, ash and other eruptive materials from rainwater that dragged, penetrating into every opening, solidified into a hard, compact layer of 15-20 meters. The eruption of Vesuvius was divided into two phases: the first was a total duration of 12 hours, with the fall of white pumice and gray, and the second for a period of seven hours established by the alternation of hot clouds and pyroclastic flows. It was the latter that struck mainly Herculaneum, burying it under a blanket of over 20 meters. As a result of thermogravimetric analyses it has been argued that the temperature was about 300-320 ° C. This temperature would allow the preservation of papyrus, found in the villa known as Villa dei Pisoni, which are kept in conditions more or less good as a result of a process of carbonisation. Buildings, such as in suburban Terme, the wood is preserved in natural color: a door turns on its hinges still original. It can be assumed that a high temperature is involved only certain areas of the city.

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Mount Vesuvius or Vesuvio

This volcano near Naples, is an interesting place to explore. Vesuvius is an explosive volcano in a quiescent state since 1944), located on the eastern side of the province of Naples, in the territory of the national park established in 1995. Its height, in 2010, of 1,281 m, lies within a caldera about 4 km in diameter. The latter is what is left of the former volcano (Mount Somma) after the great eruption of 79 AD, which resulted in the collapse of the south-eastern flank at which it subsequently formed the present crater. It is currently the only active volcano in all of continental Europe. [3] It is one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world studied, due to the fact that on its slopes hosts about 700,000 people and the consequences of the eruption would be extremely devastating. In 1997, the Vesuvius was elected by UNESCO (with the nearby Golden Mile) among the world's biosphere reserves.

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Pompeii

Pompeii was a thriving wealthy city that was buried by an eruption of Vesuvio in 79AD. Excavations of the site have been ongoing for a few hundred years. In the summer of A.D. 79 (First year of the reign of the Emperor Titus), Pompeii was the victim of a violent eruption of Vesuvius. The city was flooded by a rain of ash and lapilli (not lava) that, unless an interval of a few hours, he fell unbroken to form a layer of more than three meters. At the time of the eruption of 79, many buildings were under reconstruction due to an earthquake that occurred a few days before. The date of this eruption is known to us on the basis of a letter of Pliny the Younger and should correspond to 24 August. However, not all scholars agree, also because of this letter there is not the original, but there are only transcriptions made during the following years. In some of them talking about the ninth day before the Kalends of November, corresponding to the 24th of October. Other clues come from the discovery of nuts, such as walnuts and figs, or sorb apples, fruit typical in autumn, but the evidence, perhaps more important, is the discovery of a silver coin with the inscription IMPXV, or the fifteenth cheer emperor Titus, acclamation which took place on September 8 in 79 AD. In the solidified ash were found in the gaps corresponding to bodies, such voids are filled with poured plaster (or other), provide us with accurate casts of the victims of the eruption.

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Sorrento

Sorrento is a popular seaside resort on the Amalfi peninsula. Sorrento is well connected to Amalfi Coast towns and the archaeological sites of Campania and can also be reached by bus or ferry from Naples. Sorrento is a travel destinations for its natural and artistic beauty and its traditions. Sorrento is the main center for number of services offered and also the best known and appointed by the Sorrento Peninsula.

The old town still shows the path of orthogonal streets of Roman origin, while to the mountain is surrounded by sixteenth century walls. We are the Cathedral, rebuilt in the fifteenth century, neo-Gothic facade, and the Church of St. Francesco of Assisi, with a remarkable fourteenth-century cloister, with Arabian style arches on pillars that are interwoven orthogonal. In the “Correale Museum” displays collections of Greek and Roman artefacts and Capodimonte porcelain, with a section of the painting of the XVII-XIX century, the park will enjoy a magnificent view of the gulf. At the Punta del Capo, 3 km to the west, are the remains of the Roman villa of Pollio Felice considered (first century AD). Another seaside villa is the “Villa of Agrippa Postumo”. The villa was built by the unfortunate nephew of Augustus.

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The Blue Grotto (La Grotta Azzurra)

The Blue Grotto is a well-known cave in the town of Anacapri, Capri Island in the province of Naples. The cavern has an opening partially submerged by the sea and depending on the tidal cycle access which can be more or less complicated. The Roman emperors who spent their holidays on the island, utilised it as private pool, in particular it seems that Tiberius had built a passage between his mansion and the cave, now if this passage really existed, would be collapsed, so inaccessible. In any case became known as since 1826, when it was visited by the German artist August Kopisch on the advice of Angelo Ferraro, a local fisherman. The best feature of the Blue Grotto is the peculiar play of colours created by the external light that penetrates through its submerged part, which may vary at different times of day and with the changing weather conditions.

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Ischia Island

It is closer to Naples and larger than Capri but less crowded with tourists. It's a volcanic island known for its thermal springs. Ischia is visited for thermal spas and beaches but there are a castle, gardens, and a villa to visit. Near Ischia, the smaller Procida and Vivara Islands can be visited too. The special cone shape island of Ischia with the roads of the island in the center and the geographical position of the island in the Tyrrhenian Sea Central favour a mild climate even during the winter with frequent weather changes, sometimes even the same day. The predominant winds vary according to the season: in winter the south-west, the west-south-west and the south wind. The predominant winds in summer and spring are the north and the north-east wind. As the winds, the humidity varies according to the season: in winter, in the presence of south-west and south and then with frequent rains the average humidity is 63%, but on days with northerly winds of moisture is considerably reduced as well as in the spring time. The thermal waters of Ischia are well known and used since ancient times. The Greeks in fact used the thermal waters to restore the spirit and the body and as a remedy for healing the aftermath of war wounds. By attributing to the waters and vapours that flowed from the earth with supernatural powers, not by chance at every spa town stood temples dedicated to deities such as Apollo at Delphi.

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The catacombs

The catacombs of Naples are mainly underground cemeteries those born in the classical age, they were excavated in the tuff or other easily removable land: the most famous are the Christian catacombs, although there are examples related to the pre-Hellenic period and greek. The type of the Christian catacombs is one of the most common and rich in detail, especially architectural. They consist of long side walls (called, outpatient) in which the excavations were carried out to allow the burial of the bodies of poor people, while the mortal remains of wealthy people or those belonging to higher social classes, were placed in niches. These niches, generally arranged in vertical rows, could include one or more corpses and were dominated by a particular bow (arcosolium). The remaining environments positioned below the floor surface (crypts), welcomed the bodies of entire families.

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Gardens

Naples has 33 historic gardens and parks open to the public. The space is undoubtedly the most important of the park of Capodimonte, vast expanse of 134 hectares of green that surrounds several eighteenth-century buildings and in particular the Reggia. In addition to green spaces, Naples is also characterised by a protected marine area of 42 hectares northern coast of Naples in fact home to the park submerged Gaiola, a rare example of submerged archaeological park in the Mediterranean.

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Geography


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