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Naples - dark narrow streets and wide boulevards,

magnificent churches and crumbling palaces,

car horns blaring, vendors shouting, contrasts.....

This is the second walk in Naples. Napoli is a big city, and many of the more interesting sights of the city are some distance apart. In this walk, we take you by the Spanish Quarter, a checker-board of narrow alleys that never see the sun; the fabulously beautiful churches and city squares; the archaeological museum, the streets used by the ancient Greeks and Romans - and more......

Step 1 - To the  Quartieri Spagnoli and Piazza Dante

Walk up the street on the right side of the Piazza Municipio, straight off the cruise port dock. There may still be archaeological  excavations, or it may be back to a park. If you should want to take the Metro, it is at the end of the second block at the first cross street. Continue walking straight until the street ends, and you are on Via Toledo.

Turn right onto Via Toledo. This is the street that is between the Spanish Quarter and more 'classy' Naples. From 1500 to about 1650, Spain controlled Naples. Toledo was a Spanish Viceroy and Spain had sent garrisons of soldiers to protect the territory. To house them, Toledo built  'barracks' - tall buildings, crowded into a small area - comfort and beauty not being a priority.

The buildings were built on a grid - usually five or six story buildings with streets usually three metres wide, or less than 10 feet, so the sun never reaches the street level. It looks like graph paper. 

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Today fourteen thousand people live in this small area - and because it has poverty, there are gangs and crime. It is dirty, busy, crumbling, colourful and very crowded. As you walk down Via Toledo beside the Spanish Quarter, the tiny alleys on your left will give you an idea of living in darkness - beside, the lights are on in the sunshiny day. This is not a place where you would want to walk alone or at night, but it is interesting!

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

Three blocks on your right as you walk up Via Toledo is a big red M - the Toledo Metro station. Several times this station has been awarded the 'most impressive metro station in Europe'. The new stations in Naples have been artistically designed and deserve an underground visit just to see them. The Toledo station is about water and light - very impressive!

About three short blocks further and you come to Piazza della Carita. This was a market area in older times, and there still are some market stalls around the edges. Pass the WWII memorial sculpture, black with figures cut out. Ahead and on your left is an angled street, beside an angled pink and grey building. This is Via Pignasecca - a market street without the rich shops on Via Toledo.  This is a busy pedestrian thoroughfare, where you can buy underwear next to melons and oranges. In the second block is a pizzeria that is highly rated, the Pizzeria Da Attilio at #17 - of course you should try the Margherita, but if everyone in your group buys a different one, trade and try them all! The pizza in Naples is different - not thin and crusty like in Rome. It is soft and simple, and very delicious.

©2018 Google     US Dept of State Geographer

Via Pignasecca is a detour, as you can see on the map above. When you have seen all you want to see, turn right and go back to Via Toledo.

In a few more short blocks, you come to Piazza Dante Aleghieri. As you enter the square look up to see the Church of St. Michael the Archangel. It has an interesting Rococo style. The church is small, but quite lovely inside.

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Piazza Dante is a large attractive square. In 1765 the square was modified by the addition of the curved building we see today attached to an old monastery, and the statue of Dante looks over the square. An oddity.... on the tower in the curved facade are two clocks. "The equation of time describes the discrepancy between two kinds of solar time".  I read about it, and was no smarter at the end of the article....


At the left hand end of the building above is one of the ancient city gates.

Apparently it was moved here. There isn't much on the history of the gate on-line.

When you go through it, you are on an interesting street full of bookstores, with tables in front to lure customers.

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©2018 Google     US Dept of State Geographer

Step 2 - Piazza Dante to the Duomo

This begins with a choice. Take the orange route, and visit the Naples Archaeological Museum (below). This is an important museum, particularly for ancient Roman artifacts. Its collection includes GreekRoman and Renaissanceitems, and is especially famous for the Roman artifacts from nearby Pompeii and Herculaneum

Simply continue walking up Via Toledo, and when you have enjoyed the museum, walk down the street at the opposite end of the building. It's a nice street, with trees. 

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Three or four blocks down you will see the arch below and go through it to enjoy the block with book stores you would otherwise miss.


Back to the yellow line ....... Go through the old city gate from Piazza Dante. This first block is interesting - it is almost all book stores. I do hope some of them are in English!

Now through the arch, pick the least beautiful street - the one with all the graffiti, straight ahead. This will test whether you either love or hate Napoli! It seems to be either sublime or ridiculous.... and the street ahead is both.

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

Of course, the first thing that will hit you is the amount of graffiti - and not interesting graffiti! At the next corner you are now on Via dei Tribunali, a very important street. It was the main 'decumanus' or Decumanus Maggiore - the main east-west street of the Greek and then ancient Roman city of Neapolis. This is a street of contrasts - of palaces and marvellous churches - and decay and mess and graffiti. The old buildings you are passing were once the homes of the wealthy, probably built in the 15th or 16th centuries.

At the end of the first block is a magnificent door - covered with graffiti. Come around the corner into the small square and look back. This is the Church of San Pietro a Majella, built in the 14th century (beside right).

Across the street is a building that now houses the medical clinics of the University of Naples. It used to be a monastery, attached to the church in front of you.... the Church of the Croce di Lucca. It is difficult to even recognize churches or other lovely buildings when the streets are so narrow. This church is quite lovely inside. (Picture left)

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Past this, on your right, is the Palazzo Filippo d'Angio, with the arches forming an arcade.


The old palace still has a presence, even if the arcade and arches are in bad condition, and the people who live above appear to appreciate it. 

The church in the piazza - yes, there are LOTS of ancient churches on Via dei Tribunali - is the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore. This is one of the oldest churches in Naples, said to be founded in the 6th century on the ruins of a Roman temple to Diana. There is evidence of a paleochristian basilica in the crypt.


The bell tower was built in the 11th century, and is the oldest in the city. It has columns of marble from older Greco-Roman buildings.


©2018 Google     US Dept of State Geographer

Now you come to the next church in Piazza San Gaetano, the Basilica of San Paolo Maggiore, but first look down the alley on the left hand side of it. There are blue banners, advertising the Napoli Sotterranea, the Naples Underground. Going down 136 steps, you will walk back into time, until at the bottom you are looking at 2400 years ago where the Ancient Greeks built cisterns to hold water for the city. There are Roman ruins of a theatre as well as other points of interest. The walk is well lit, and the steps are not too steep.

The baroque styled Basilica of San Paolo Maggiore was built in the 8th century on the ruins of a Greek temple. Until the 1600's, the front of the Greek temple was still standing at the front of the church but it collapsed in an earthquake. Two columns were saved, and are now on the facade of the church. The interior is quite lovely (below).


The small church of San Gregorio Armani is down the street to your right opposite the Basilica of San Paolo Maggiore. The outside is not remarkable, but the inside is decorative.

The next is the church of the Girolamini, below.



And the last church (for a while on this walk) - go around the next corner to your left to see the Cathedral of Naples, often called the Duomo. It was completed in the early 14th century and built on the foundations of two paleo-Christian basilicas. Beside the Duomo is a museum that holds gifts and donations from seven centuries of popes and rulers.


Step 3 - The Duomo to the Cruise Port

Here you have a choice in routes back to the cruise port. The yellow line beside takes you back through a narrow historic street and the orange line is more direct with wider streets.

The yellow line first - walk back (south) on Via Duomo, passing Via dei Tribunali. Now is the time to watch for the palaces - not royal palaces, but the huge homes of the very wealthy in the middle ages. Most houses were built in a square, with a courtyard in the center. The main door of the house was in the courtyard, and on the street were large arches for entry into the courtyard. Today these are still there - some wide open, some with iron doors and others with wrought iron gates.

Watch for these - there are a number in this block.


Turn right at the next street after Via dei Tribunali - it is a very long block, and the street is very narrow and easy to miss. It is across from a small square and a church facing the square. This little narrow street is also important. Where Via Tribunali was the main 'decumanus' or Decumanus Maggiore, this street is the third or southernmost of the three main streets of ancient Naples, known as Decumanus Inferiore. It is called Via S. Biagio dei Librai  - but is more known by the name 'Spaccanapoli' which literally means 'split Naples' - the street that cut old Naples in half.

©2018 Google     Image©2009 TerraMetrics

There are a number of churches on this street, but mostly there are the palaces, one after another. Look for the archways - there are at least a dozen of these magnificent (but often rundown) buildings. Look up at them and imagine how they looked in their time. Some were built as early as 1300, and some as late as the 1600's. 

You will come to a fairly large square, a very important place in the ancient city - on the intersection of Spaccanapoli and Via Mezzocannone (meaning the center street that goes north/south). This is the Piazza San Domenico, with a church of the same name and a statue of San Dominico.

Facing the square are palaces, build in the early 14th century. The Gothic Church of San Domenico Maggiore incorporates a smaller church built on this site in the 900's (beside).


Continuing down the narrow street, you will come to another square, faced by two churches and an impressive bell tower.

The church on the left of the picture beside is the Church of Gesù Nuovo. The building was originally a palace built in 1470 for the Prince of Salerno. Construction of the church began in 1584. The new church kept the unusual facade that the palace had. 

On the right side of the picture above is the Church of Santa Chiara. With the church is a large complex with a monastery, museum and other buildings.

Take the street that angles off the far end of the square. Admire the palaces with the elaborate arch entrances. Turn left when you come to a fountain, and continue down this street until you come to Piazza Municipio where you can see the Castel Nuovo and the cruise port at the end of the square.

©2018 Google     US Dept of State Geographer

The second path back to the cruise port is easier and quicker, but without the character! From the Duomo, walk back down this pleasant street until you come to a 'circle'. I put that in quotation marks, because at this time it is dug up for the new University station on the Metro. The station itself is completed, and is colourful - a salute to technology.

Turn right at this circle and walk down this wide street to another square, and take the wide street on the left of the two streets ahead. This will take you to Piazza Municipio and the Castel Nuovo and the cruise port.

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