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Blick auf Neapel, Bild: S-F / shutterstock

Naples – Under the influence of the mountain

Naples is the third largest city in Italy. With a history dating back thousands of years, it dates back to the Greek settlement of Neapolis, which was later taken over by the Romans. While Neapolitan folk music was born there in the Middle Ages, the city is also the birthplace of Italy’s national dish – pizza.

Places to visit in and outside Naples

The old town of Naples

Piazza del Plebiscito
Piazza del Plebiscito, Image: Wila_Image / shutterstock

Naples’ old town is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. It consists of a labyrinth of alleys and captivates with small chapels and churches that appear here and there as if out of nowhere. Excavations of the old city wall can also be visited there.

Two other highlights are the Nativity Street and the Basilica of Santa Chiara, whose cloister is considered one of the most beautiful in all of Campania.

Napoli Sotterranea – Naples’ Underworld

The underground passages of Naples are about 80 km long and a guided tour is of course a must for visitors. Like a labyrinth, the paths and tuff caves stretch 40 m below the city. The history of the city has been immortalized down there in the stone of the walls: from the founding of the city to the bombs of the Second World War.

Entrances to this underground system can be found all over the city. The tours last about two hours. There are underground gardens, theatres, cisterns and fountains to marvel at.

National Archaeological Museum of Naples

Basilica of Santa Chiara, Naples
Basilica of Santa Chiara, Image: Inu / shutterstock

It is considered the most important archaeological museum in all of Europe and also contains finds from the city of Pompeii, among other things. Among them is a detailed mosaic depicting the battle between Alexander the Great and the Persian king Darius III. Numerous paintings and statues from the collection of the Bourbon King Charles III are also housed in the museum.

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The building in which the museum is located has a long history of its own. It was built in 1585 as a cavalry barracks and later further rebuilt and expanded.

Castel Nuovo – Residence of the Rulers

The construction of Castel Nuovo began under the direction of Charles I of Anjou in 1279 and was completed three years later. Even today, the castle is considered the most famous building in Naples. Inside it is a museum that deals with the multifaceted history of the city. Among other things, a wide variety of bronze and silver objects are housed there, and in the Capella Palatina, frescoes and sculptures from the 13th to 14th century.

Mount Vesuvius – Europe’s volcano

Vesuvius Naples
Mount Vesuvius in the background of Naples, Image: Nataliia Gr / shutterstock

The metropolis of Naples is only nine kilometers away from Mount Vesuvius, the only active volcano on the European mainland. The mountain is best known for the history of the city of Pompeii, whose demise it caused in the first century AD.

Even today, the volcano could erupt again at any time.

Visitor tours are offered to the top of the mountain. The ascent takes about an hour on foot and leads to the crater of the mountain on beautiful hiking trails. Public transport also likes to take visitors up the mountain. On cloudless days, the view of the Gulf of Naples is particularly beautiful.

The ruins of Pompeii

Pompeii
Pompeii, Image: lara-sh / shutterstock

Pompeii, 23 km away, can be reached from Naples in a half-hour drive. It is one of the most famous excavation sites ever. The huge walkable area is about 44 hectares.

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Before its demise, Pompeii was about 66 hectares in size and the streets pulsated with life. In 79 AD, this came to an abrupt end with the volcanic eruption. Countless finds and the casts of their bodies bear witness to the people of this city to this day. These, however, were stored in museums – as were many mosaics and sculptures.

The streets of the city are empty and clean today. The same applies to Pompeii’s buildings. Only a few furnishings are still in the houses. Nevertheless, the ruined city is worth a visit with or without a guided tour, which can easily stretch over several hours.

Specialties of Naples

As the birthplace of pizza , it should not be missing in Naples. There is often a long queue in front of good pizzerias and invites you to queue.

The city even organizes a pizza festival every year to commemorate the origin of this dish. A fresh pizza Margaritha with a soft base is classic. A slightly different type of this dish is the deep-fried pizza. The topping is located between two layers of dough and is then simply fried.

The Friarielli are also something special. These grow on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius and are only found in this region. They are often fried and served as a side dish. But they have also developed their own dish: friarielli with salsiccia (a large bratwurst).

It is not surprising that many dishes in Naples, characterized by a certain maritime influence, contain mussels and fish. Seafood is available on pasta and pizza as well as as an independent dish.

For dessert, you can try Sfogliatelle or Babà. Both are pastries that are offered in pastry shops and street stalls throughout the city.

If you’re looking for a drink and don’t shy away from some alcohol, you should definitely try limoncello. Although this lemon liqueur originally comes from Sorrento and Almafi, it is also popular in Naples.