Let’s See Napoli—Day by Day

FOUR DAYS TO SEE NAPLES

Napoli is a multifaceted city. There is the belvedere Naples, the impoverished Naples, the opulent Naples, the gourmand Naples, the creative Naples, the Baroque Naples, and perhaps more. But Napoli is at heart a happy place, the region is in fact known as “Terra Felix.”

Ancient Campania (often also referred to as Campania Felix or even Campanus ager) originally indicated the territory of the ancient city of Capua in the Roman period, and later also the plains of the neighboring municipalities.

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PLEBISCITO

Piazza del Plebiscito. This noble semicircular piazza (19th Century) is enclosed on one side by the royal palace, on the other by the neoclassical façade of the church of San Francesco di Paola, built on the model of the Pantheon in Rome, and the St. Peter’s Colonnade (at the Vatican). 

From Piazza Plebiscito with a short walk, we can have the first view of the beautiful Gulf of Naples. Warning! While looking at the beautiful Gulf of Naples keep an eye on the uneven sidewalk too. 

ROYAL PALACE

The Royal Palace is certainly worth a visit and the interior is much more stunning than what the exterior leads to believe. A grand white marble staircase with twin ramps and crowned by a coffered dome leads to the sumptuously decorated royal apartments. The richly ornamented rooms have retained their numerous work of art, tapestries, paintings, period furniture, and fine porcelain. The Royal Palace was built from the 1600s, to achieve its final appearance in 1858.

SAN CARLO & SURROUNDINGS 

The Royal Theater of San Carlo, the oldest opera house in Europe is another must see. 

 The Teatro di San Carlo in Naples was built in 1737 on the will of King Charles III of Bourbon, and was inaugurated 41 years before the La Scala of Milan and 55 years before the Fenice of Venice, which is why it represents today the oldest theater in  operates in Europe and among the most capacious in Italy.

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Whiting walking distance from Piazza Plebiscito there is Via Toledo, the Royal Palace, the Galleria Umberto, and the Maschio Angioino. Plenty to fill anybody’s day with excitement.

A stop at Gambrinus (read more about Gambrinus here), is strongly suggested, whether it is for coffee, aperitivo, gelato, or to taste your very first “sfogliatella riccia.” 

From Gambrinus, it is easy to walk up via Toledo the ancient street and one of the most important shopping thoroughfare. The street starts at Piazza Dante and ends near Piazza del Plebiscito. It is amazing to see the narrow side-streets so different from this important street. We cannot conclude this pleasant walk without, however, visiting what is hidden behind Via Toledo: the characteristic Quartieri Spagnoli (Spanish Quarters), the soul of Naples.

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TOLEDO & SPANISH QUARTERS

No space is wasted for these numerous and poor people;  this is how “il basso” was born, a typical Neapolitan house.  The economy of these alleys has been, over time, rather colorful: the Neapolitan people are a people that wake up early, not at all idle, indeed it never sleeps.

Even Goethe in his Journey to Italy talks about Neapolitan industriousness, in which everyone, in order to survive, creates a trade, from the most honest to the dishonest.  And so in the past Via Toledo and its alleys were crossed by aquaiuoli, garbage collectors, but also moneylenders and usurers, mozzonaro (cigarette-picker) and shoe-shiners, to thieves and cheaters.

If you wish a quick drink or even an aperitivo, you can stop at the “acquaiolo” right in front of Gambrinus near the Galleria. The friendly gentleman will make you a drink on the spot with fresh lemons. 

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GALLERIA

Part monument and part shopping center, Umberto Gallery was built to provide a sufficiently large public space sheltered from the [inclement] weather.  Built on the model of the Milan Galleria, yet in Milan, the Galleria is more appreciated, surely because of Milan winter weather!

Nevertheless, the Galleria not only had an important commercial and social function but also a monumental one: it had to compete for the other artistic beauties such as the Maschio Angioino, the Basilica of San Francesco di Paola, the San Carlo theater and the Royal Palace.  

Day one can finish with an aperitivo in Galleria, and then heading for a pizza. There are more than 800 pizzerias in the birthplace of pizza, but only 120 can boast certification by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (AVPN), the regulatory body that protects and ensures that the art of pizza-making and the ingredients used are in accordance with Neapolitan tradition.

Sorbillo, Centro Storico, Via dei Tribunali, 38pizzeria-sorbillo.it. Open Mon-Sat midday-3.30pm and 7pm-12pm. Although, the queue to get into Sorbillo can take up to 1½ hours because it makes perhaps the best pizza in the city. Sorbillo is renowned for making vast pizzas from organic Campanian produce.

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4 Comments

  1. My compliments on a very thorough presentation of Napoli. Unfortunately, I have only been there once on my way to Ischia. It is a long haul from our home here in the Alps. BTW – We are having our annual 4th of July party this year in Tret. If you happen to be in the neighborhood (?😉?), you are invited.

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    1. Ah Thank you, and thank you for the invitation. I am planning a visit to the USA for the 4th. Hopefully because there are some family business that prevents me from making firm plans. Should I be in italy, I would accept your invitation with pleasure.

      Liked by 1 person

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