Naples

Jean Roberts

Greeks and Romans, medieval kings and castles,

Run-down streets and graffiti - and pizza to die for....

Naples is a big city.... There is so much to see, and interesting sights are often far apart. This is the first of two walks that cover most of the sights. You can do both or one or only the parts you want to see. Naples is often judged as unsafe for walking, but if you stay on reasonably well-traveled streets and use common sense it is no more dangerous than any large city, except for the traffic. It is likely best to stay out of dark narrow alleys, and Naples has quite a few.

 

The traffic is dreadful, and driving laws are only made to be broken! Be very careful crossing streets..... 

Walk 1 - Contrasts!

Naples has the cruise port in a great place for walking to see the sights. This is a walk of contrasts - new and very old, rich and poor, beautiful and scruffy.... and all interesting.

Step 1 - to Egg Castle

 

Leave the port area, and turn left on the first street. The Castel Nuovo (beside) is across the street - we will come back to it. At the end of the lagoon, continue walking straight to the end of the park. Ahead is a street tunnel, and turn left here.

The view becomes better and better as you walk towards the open sea. You have a lovely view of Mt. Vesuvius and the Sorrento Peninsula, with the Isle of Capri off the distant point. Go around the corner by the sea, until you come to a 'circle' with a statue of Umberto I.

©2018 Google     US Dept of State Geographer
©2018 Google     Image©2009 TerraMetrics
©2018 Google     US Dept of State Geographer

Umberto was the King of Italy in the last quarter of the 19th century.

The lovely buildings along the seafront are 'new'. They were built in 1900  - some land was reclaimed from the sea to give the waterfront a pleasant and modern look.

Leave the sea and walk directly behind Umberto. There are two blocks of the lovely looking buildings, that copy the palaces of several centuries earlier. Continue straight across the street to a small square with potted trees. Ahead you will see a small hill, with tall, much older buildings on it. Continue walking straight through the little square and the street turns and you are in a different era -  or rather, an eclectic mix of eras.  Look ahead and up - there is an ancient wall, with what appears to be a turret (painted yellow), and further on the ruins of a building from an earlier era.

©2018 Google     US Dept of State Geographer
©2018 Google     US Dept of State Geographer
©2018 Google     US Dept of State Geographer

Turn around and look back to get the full effect.

Come out to the first street and turn right towards the sea. At the end of the first block there is something odd that needs explaining......

The hill is called Mt. Echia or Mt. Pizzofalcone.

This is the sea end of the hill, with retaining walls to prevent it from washing away when it rains. But not just any hill...... In the 8th and 7th centuries BC the Greeks built an acropolis and settlement on this hill called Parthenope - and before that there were other civilizations who lived here as well. By the 6th century BC the Greeks had a busy military and trading port, but a century later had built a new city, Neapolis, and the earlier settlement on the hill was called Paleopolis or old city.

By the 1st century BC a Roman nobleman built a villa on the crest of the hill, and there are a few small bits of it left.

©2018 Google     US Dept of State Geographer

There is a modern story, as well! An elevator was planned to help the citizens who live on the hill and so tourists could enjoy the view from the top - you can see the tunnel entrance at street level. This was approved in 2006 and started in 2009, with a completion date of 2012. There is a round open empty shaft from the top where you can see the crane. This picture was taken in 2017..... One writer on-line calls it UADD - Urban Attention Deficit Disorder. Apparently this is not the only thing left unfinished in Naples!

Walk another block out to the ocean. To your left a block away is the Fontana del Gigante (Fountain of the Giant), or  Fontana dell'Immacolatella. It was originally built for the Royal Palace, where it stood next to a giant ancient statue, now gone. The fountain makes an excellent frame for a photo.

Step 2 - Egg Castle to Piazza Plebiscito

Castel dell’Ovo (Egg Castle) is ahead of you, on the island of Megaride. One reason that the hill behind you was so important in ancient times is that it was protected by fortifications on this island. 

Apparently a 'magic egg' was buried deep within the castle by the poet Virgil that would protect the castle and the city itself.

Castel dell’Ovo was built by the Normans in the 12th century. Apparently it is free to walk inside and up onto the ramparts for wonderful views of the city, Mt. Vesuvius and the Sorrento Peninsula. Walk the little fishing village beside the castle also, and perhaps have pizza and a cold drink in one of the little outdoor restaurants.

 

At the end of this building with the pillars is something interesting! Go in where the green tree is in the picture beside to tours of the Bourbon Tunnel. Apparently you go into the car park for one hour guided tours of the tunnel history - from the escape route of Ferdinand II of Bourbon to WWII when it was used as an air raid shelter and a place to store old motorcycles and cars from the 1940's. The tour is highly rated.

Continuing up Via Morelli you will come to a square with the Monument to the Martyrs - lions representing martyrs that died in the anti-Bourbon revolutions.

The street curves to the right, and follow it - in a long block the street becomes almost dark with big trees on both sides of the narrow street - a cool place on a hot day! (below)

Through the leafy block and you are on the well-known pedestrian street, Via Chiaia. You will come to a lovely arch, that is really a bridge between two hills. 

On the right pillar of the bridge is a small sign, red and green (see below).  This is for an elevator to the street above - hard to see unless you know it is there. It is open for use when the green side is lit up - there is an operator.....

Walk to the end of Via Chiaia.

Turn left from the castle walkway and continue on the street by the sea until you go around a corner. At the second corner, turn right and then left and you will come to the other end of the tunnel you saw previously - the street goes under the hill. Be careful crossing here - there is a crosswalk ahead - remember that pedestrians do not have the right-of-way! Walk straight through the intersection, with the building with pillars on your right. (beside)

©2018 Google     Image©2009 TerraMetrics
©2018 Google     US Dept of State Geographer
©2018 Google     US Dept of State Geographer
©2018 Google     US Dept of State Geographer
©2018 Google     US Dept of State Geographer
©2018 Google     US Dept of State Geographer
©2018 Google     US Dept of State Geographer
Associazione Culturale Borbonica Sotterranea, Galleria borbonica - War refuge (Naples)CC BY-SA 4.0
©2018 Google     US Dept of State Geographer

Step 3 - Piazza Plebiscito to the Castel Nuovo

©2018 Google     Image©2009 TerraMetrics

At the end of Via Chiaia there is an enormous square, called Piazza del Plebiscito. On the square is the Royal Palace - built about 1600 for Philip of Spain's visit, but he never came. In the early 1700's the Bourbon rulers took it over as their residence. It now houses a theatre, a library and museum.

©2018 Google     US Dept of State Geographer
©2018 Google     US Dept of State Geographer

On the opposite end of the square is the Church of San Francesco di Paola. It was completed in 1816. The church facade was build as the Pantheon in Rome, and the inside is also round, with several side chapels.

Go back to the little square at the end of Via Chiaia with the fountain. Attached to the end of the Royal Palace is a cream and grey building. Leave the square and go around the corner to see the front  - this is the San Carlo Opera House. It is the oldest and one of the most prestigious in Europe. Tours are available - tickets bought ahead are recommended. The image on the right shows the Royal Box.

Just across from the San Carlo Opera House is the Galleria Umberto I. Shopping malls are not a modern invention! This shopping mall was completed in 1891, in the shape of a cross with glass ceilings, a center dome, and lovely shops.

The architecture alone is worth a visit and you will likely take a lot of photographs.....

©2018 Google     US Dept of State Geographer

Now we are back to the Castel Nuovo. The 'new castle' was built in 1271 and was lived in by many kings, conquering leaders, crusaders, and popes. It has a violent and colourful history. The white marble triumphal arch was  built in 1470 and commemorates Alfonso of Aragon's entry to Naples in 1443. It stands between two western Towers of the castle.

The castle has several chapels, an armory, the 'Hall of the Barons' - once a throne room, and prisons. There are tours, I think, but are not rated very highly. Perhaps just admire it from the outside.

You can walk to the cruise port by walking to your left facing the castle door and around the base.... or walk back out to the street and turn right towards the large square, Piazzo Municipio. In the back of the square is the Neptune fountain - quite lovely.

There used to be a park all the way to the waterfront street. Hopefully there will be again! A new Metro station was built beneath the square, and became an enormous archaeological site. More than 3000 artifacts were found, and the layers of the different civilizations. This turned into the largest urban archaeological site in the last 40 years.

The Metro stations are known for their artistic interiors. Beside left is the Municipio Station.

©2018 Google   ©2009 GeoBasis-DE BKG
©2018 Google     US Dept of State Geographer
©2018 Google     US Dept of State Geographer

Ninety feet below today's streets they found the ancient Roman port. In mud and silt were found three boats, two over 30 feet long. Personal belongings and ship's hardware were found in the ruins. They had been covered by a mudslide.

Hopefully all these artifacts will soon be in a museum where they can be seen by everyone.

Below is an aerial view of the  castle and the site, 2017.

Cross the waterfront street to the cruise port. 

This walk is approximately 5 km./3 miles.

If you enjoyed this walk, let me know and send some pictures!

©2018 Google     Image©2009 TerraMetrics
©2018 Google     Image©2009 TerraMetrics

Cruising is always a joy and new ports are always adventures.

I hope you enjoy the entries, and I would appreciate your feedback.

Thank you to Lynda Thompson, Lovette Kyllo, Kelly Raine, Jamie Robertson and Katie Robertson for sharing their personal photos...... and, of course, Google maps and Wikipedia photos.

:0)    Jean

           cruiseportwalks@shaw.ca

 

I would love to hear your travel ideas. Tell me your opinions of the website. Have you walked to see the places I have outlined? Do you have special restaurants or bars that you could share with others? Send your thoughts!

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From the thousands of pictures of Vancouver Island that I have taken, I have sorted some of them into months. This is a vanity project that I have enjoyed doing!