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Roman Underground Naples

14 Jul

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Complesso San Lorenzo Maggiore
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An ancient Roman
world lies hidden
beneath a church.

The church of San Lorenzo Maggiore is
located at the precise center of the ancient
Greco-Roman city. The archaeological
site beneath the church, convent and
cloister reveals a fascinating street
three meters wide and about sixty meters
long, surrounded on all sides by the
still intact buildings of an ancient Roman
market. The numerous shops include
a baker, a laundry, various inns and the
‘aerarium’, a type of bank where
citizens’ finances from taxes used to
be kept.

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Wonder and Admiration of Naples

13 Jul

The artistic heritage and elegant culture of Naples have long been admired by the city’s many visitors. In 1827, Stendhal, the revered French writer, wrote:

“I shall never forget Via Toledo, or indeed any of the other quarters of Naples; in my eyes it is the most beautiful city in the universe, without comparison. Naples, the great city rich in history, alongside Paris is the only possible capital of Europe”.

Others would marvel at the magnificent setting, with the waters of the Gulf framed by the islands of Capri and Ischia, and the great volcanic mountain of Vesuvius overlooking the remains of Pompeii and Herculaneum, destroyed by the eruption of 79 BC.

As the world has come to Naples, Naples has given much to the world. Its cuisine is diverse and characteristic; the city has the distinction of originating pizza and excelling in espresso. Music is also an intrinsic part of the culture, from grand opera to folk songs, with the mandolin and romantic guitar both Neapolitan inventions.

Naples – City of Culture

13 Jul

Naples is the carefree and romantic heart of the Mediterranean, a city of wonderful contradictions – fascinating and chaotic, passionate and creative, ancient and modern. Here, history is woven together with the stories of the streets, the monuments and churches, museums and galleries that provide a stage for the passions, individual talents, art and quality of common people: cheerful, fanciful and fascinating.

Today, Naples is home to a proud, genial and inventive people who may still call themselves Parthenopeans as well as Neapolitans. They live and work among so many artistic and architectural works of great value. Ruins of Greek and Roman times, Norman castles, buildings of the Aragonese and Bourbons, and more modern structures created in the last two centuries all stand within walking distance of each other.

In the 18th century, Naples was known as the ‘city of 500 domes’. Even today, it probably has the largest number of domed buildings in the world. The city’s churches bear witness to artistic, historic and architectural achievements over fifteen centuries – especially the Duomo, with its miracle of Saint Gennaro, the patron saint of the city. The saint’s blood is conserved here in a phial and tradition has it that if it liquefies, it is an auspicious omen for the whole city. The Museo di Capodimonte, previously a Bourbon palace, is probably the most important art gallery in Naples, with paintings from the 13th to the 18th century, including major works by Simone Martini, Raphael, Titian, Caravaggio, El Greco as well as Neapolitan School painters such as Jusepe de Ribera and Luca Giordano.

In 1993, UNESCO listed the historic centre of Naples a World Heritage Site, with reference to “the wealth and variety of its historic buildings… of extraordinary and truly unique value, spreading influence across Europe and beyond”.

History of Naples

13 Jul

The history of Naples is vast. It all started around 800 years BC, when Greeks from Rhodes first settled the place between the island of Megaride (now Castel dell’Ovo) and the hill of Monte Echia. They named it Parthenope after one of the Sirens of Greek mythology. It was she, distraught at her failure to enchant Ulysses, who threw herself into the sea and was carried by the waves to Megaride. Other Greeks from nearby Cuma came here later in the fifth century BC, and founded Neapolis (new city) in what is today’s historic centre. So, Naples became important as a center in Greek southern Italy, and then as a central province of the Roman Empire.

From 1284, the city was the capital of the Kingdom of Naples. When the Bourbon kings established the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies in 1738, they chose Naples as its capital. During this period, the city became a Baroque cultural powerhouse and Europe’s second largest city only after Paris. The Kingdom ended in 1860 with the birth of new Italian state.

Naples – the soul of Italy

13 Jul

Naples, Napoli in Italian, is the third most-populated city in Italy and the biggest city in Southern Italy. Its name comes from the Greek Neapolis meaning new city.

Naples is the capital of the Campania region. The city is the third most populated municipality  of Italy, but the second metropolitan area, after Milan. It was founded between the 7th and 6th centuries BC by the Greeks and was named Neapolis, which means new city. To one side of Naples is Mount Vesuvius, and near to the bay are the pretty islands of Capri, Ischia and Procida, which all lend themselves to day trips. Pompeii and Herculaneum are full of some of the most interesting and revealing Roman ruins in Italy, after being destroyed by Vesuvius when it erupted almost 2,000 years ago.

Naples is the soul of Itlay. Naples is… music, theatre, Vesuvius, coffee, pizza and the sea… all those colors, sounds and aromas that capture your attention, win you over and seduce you. The Neapolitans are passionate and proud  about their home town, and with good reason. Beyond the tired clichés – pizza, mobsters and handbag snatchers – is a warm, vital and often beautiful city. Churches, palaces and castles from its heyday as capital of the Bourbon Kingdom of Naples mingle with world-class galleries, museums and archaeological sites.

Exciting… The first adjective to define it is “exciting”. Naples can transmit his energy through different ways: in the traffic, the noise, but also in the cultural life: in the music, in the performing arts, in the people’s deep love for and pride in their city, and in their fervent religiosity. The city has a lot to offer, from romantic evening walks along the shore; to magnificent views over the bay with Mount Vesuvius in the background; to the beauty of Piazza del Plebiscito, Castel Nuovo, and Castel dell’Ovo. And, of course, this being Italy, Neapolitans are proud of all the good things to eat here, especially the fresh seafood; local tomatoes, which make the best fresh sauces; and the pizza they invented.

Welcoming… The second adjective that describes Naples is “welcoming.” If you take the time to notice, you will see that Neapolitans really reach out to visitors and relish in others’ enjoyment of their beloved city. Maybe that is the most truly fascinating thing about Naples: It has incredible architectural and artistic attractions, natural beauty, and fantastic food and wines, but ultimately, when you fall in love with the city — as you will if you let it get to you — you’ll do so because of its humanity. When you walk the streets of Naples, you’ll understand that.

Tradition… Another word Naples is associated with is” tradition”. Naples has the best pizza, the best coffee and arguably some of the most enchanting and entertaining people in Italy. Down every narrow, cobbled street hangs colourful lines of laundry, luxurious shrines carved into every wall and crinkled old men teaching their grandsons how to play chess.

The other important thing about Naples is the traffic; the resulting confusion and dirt have put off many visitors. If you get past — or literally, away from — the noise, you can relax and discover a city that many visitors over the centuries have described in justly heavenly terms.

Only in Naples do strangers on mopeds chat to each other in traffic jams… Only in Naples are the pizzas bigger than the plates they are served on… and only in Naples will you find a whole street dedicated to Christmas decorations in the middle of the August heat!

Naples can be criticized for many things but its character and charm will always leave you wanting more.