Naples

Naples, a bustling city of a million people, can be a challenge for visitors because of its hilly terrain and its twisty, often congested streets. Although spread out, Naples invites walking; the bus system, funiculars, and subways are also options for dealing with weary legs.

The city stretches along the Bay of Naples from Piazza Garibaldi in the east to Mergellina in the west, with its back to the Vomero Hill. From Stazione Centrale, on Piazza Garibaldi, Corso Umberto I (known as the Rettifilo) heads southwest to the monumental city center—commonly known as Toledo—around the piazzas Bovio, Municipio, and Trieste e Trento; here is the major urban set piece composed of the Palazzo Reale, Teatro San Carlo, and Galleria Umberto Primo.

To the north are the historic districts of old Naples, most notably the Centro Storico, I Vergini, and La Sanità; to the south, the port. Farther west along the bay are the more fashionable neighborhoods of Santa Lucia and Chiaia, and finally the waterfront district of Mergellina and the hill of Posillipo. The residential area of Vomero sits on the steep hills rising above Chiaia and downtown.

At the center of it all is picturesque Spaccanapoli—the heart of the Centro Storico. This partly pedestrianized promenade rather confusingly changes its name as it runs its way through the heart of old Naples—it's labeled as Via Benedetto Croce and Via San Biagio dei Librai, among others. Tying much of this geographic layout together is the "spine" of the city, Via Toledo—Naples's major north–south axis, which begins at Piazza Trieste e Trento and heads up all the way to Capodimonte; it's basically one straight road with four different names (five if you count the official name of Via Roma, which is how the locals refer to it).

Via Toledo links Piazza Trieste e Trento with Piazza Dante. Going farther north you get into Via Pessina for about 100 yards, which takes you up to the megajunction with the Museo Archeologico Nazionale. North of that, you head up to the peak of Capodimonte by traveling along Via Santa Teresa degli Scalzi and then Corso Amedeo di Savoia.

To make things a bit more confusing, parts of Via Toledo are pedestrianized—that means no buses or scooters, thankfully—from just south of Piazza Carità (where Via Toledo/Roma intersects with Via Diaz) all the way to Piazza Trieste e Trento.

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  • 1. Aquarium

    Originally named by the Greeks after the Mermaid Parthenope (who slew herself after being rejected by Odysseus, at least in the poet Virgil’s version), it's...Read More

  • 2. Castel Nuovo

    Toledo

    Known to locals as Maschio Angioino, in reference to its Angevin builders, this imposing castle is now used more for marital than military purposes—a portion...Read More

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  • 3. Certosa e Museo di San Martino

    Vomero

    Atop a rocky promontory with a fabulous view of the entire city and majestic salons that would please any monarch, the Certosa di San Martino...Read More

  • 4. LAPIS Museum

    Centro Storico

    The beautifully restored 17th-century Basilica di Pietrasanta, a Cosimo Fanzago Baroque masterpiece built on the site of the Roman Temple of Diana, hosts regular multimedia...Read More

  • 5. Museo Archeologico Nazionale

    Centro Storico

    Also known as MANN, this legendary museum has experienced something of a rebirth in recent years. Its unrivaled collections include world-renowned archaeological finds that put...Read More

  • 6. Museo Cappella Sansevero

    Centro Storico

    The dazzling funerary chapel of the Sangro di Sansevero princes combines noble swagger, overwhelming color, and a touch of the macabre—which expresses Naples perfectly. The...Read More

  • 7. Museo di Capodimonte

    Capodimonte

    The grandiose, 18th-century, neoclassical, Bourbon royal palace houses fine and decorative art in 124 rooms. The main galleries on the first floor are devoted to...Read More

  • 8. Palazzo Reale

    Toledo

    A leading Naples showpiece created as an expression of Bourbon power and values, the Palazzo Reale dates from 1600. Renovated and redecorated by successive rulers...Read More

  • 9. Pausilypon Archaeological Park

    Posillipo

    Located at the top of Posillipo's hill, this small yet magical complex has a 1st-century villa and two amphitheaters; access is though the Grotta di...Read More

  • 10. Pio Monte della Misericordia

    Centro Storico

    One of the Centro Storico's defining sites, this octagonal church was built around the corner from the Duomo for a charitable institution seven noblemen founded...Read More

  • 11. Reggia di Caserta

    Located 16 miles northeast of the city, the palace known as the Reggia shows how Bourbon royals lived in the mid-18th century. Architect Luigi Vanvitelli...Read More

  • 12. San Lorenzo Maggiore

    Centro Storico

    The church of San Lorenzo features a very unmedieval facade of 18th-century splendor. Due to the effects and threats of earthquakes, the church was reinforced...Read More

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  • 13. Sant'Anna dei Lombardi

    Toledo

    Long favored by the Aragonese kings, this church, simple and rather anonymous from the outside, houses some of the most important ensembles of Renaissance sculpture...Read More

  • 14. Santa Chiara

    Centro Storico

    Offering a stark and telling contrast to the opulence of the nearby Gesù Nuovo, Santa Chiara is the leading Angevin Gothic monument in Naples. The...Read More

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  • 15. Toledo Metro Station

    Toledo

    Designed by Catalan architect Oscar Tusquets Blanca and opened in 2012, this is the most impressive of the numerous Stazioni dell'Arte on the city's Metro...Read More

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