Visit Naples on foot
Try our full itinerary along “Spaccanapoli”
Once in Naples the first people you will run into will be taxi drivers. Out of prejudices, a taxi ride implies a witty and often philosophical talk with interesting people.
To visit Naples, follow this route I recommend: ask the driver to bring you to San Martino, a Monastery perched atop Vomero hill, near Castel Sant’Elmo, where the rebels in 1799 took refuge, before being executed by hanging by order of Lord Nelson. On top the city view is breath-taking. Here you can find also the Museum of Christmas crib (presepio, in Italian).
Walk down towards the city centre along Spaccanapoli road. It is the old Decumano Inferiore, the Greek road that passed through the ancient Neapolis. Keep walking and get to Bellini square, where you can admire some Greek-Roman ruins and have lunch at the vegetarian restaurant “Il Sorriso Integrale” (that is “Wholemeal smile”).
The name Spaccanapoli is a local idiom, it means a road that passes straight through the city from North to South, dividing it into districts. It takes different names in the different areas it crosses: somewhere it is called Pasquale Scura street, somewhere else San Biagio dei Librai street or Benedetto Croce street (he used to live here, at number 3!).
Along the Spaccanapoli, you will run into Gesù Novo square, with Santa Chiara church and its wonderful courtyard. Near to San Domenico Maggiore square, there is San Severo chapel, so called from the alchemist who stripped the flesh from two bodies to show the cardiovascular system. It could sound a bit scaring, but the chapel is very interesting.
Nearby you can’t miss the church of San Gregorio Armeno: a local tradition is to set up different cribs, Italian Presepi, with some figurines representing actual characters from the past and the present. During Christmas time, this place is overcrowded on Saturday and Sunday, you should plan a walk in the weekdays.
Not far from here Nilo little square, which is famous for an hanging tableau with one of Maradona’s hairs!
Aren’t you tired yet? Walk back along the road through Dante square, Toledo street, Plebiscito square and the Royal Palace. Then your walk could continue to Castel dell’Ovo and its sea village, full of ships, restaurants and art galleries.
Of course, this is just one of the thousands sides of Naples. Another wonderful route could be the one through the subsoil of the city, that starts from Caffè Gambrinus… Next time!
Main pic courtesy of Flickr User Roberto Taddeo
Sant’Elmo pic courtesy of Flickr User Hillman54
Castel dell’Ovo pic courtesy of Flickr User Maritè Toledo