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. Lungomare

    Chiaia

    The first thing Mayor Luigi de Magistris did after his 2011 election was to banish traffic from the city's seafront. Strolling, skating, or biking along...Read More

  • 2. 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

  • 3. Castel dell'Ovo

    Santa Lucia

    The oldest castle in Naples, the 12th-century Castel dell'Ovo dangles over the Porto Santa Lucia on a thin promontory. Built atop the ruins of an...Read More

  • 4. Galleria Umberto I

    Toledo

    The galleria was erected during the "cleanup" of Naples following the devastating cholera epidemic of 1884. With facades on Via Toledo—the most animated street in...Read More

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  • 5. Gran Caffè Gambrinus

    Toledo

    The most famous coffeehouse in town is the Caffè Gambrinus, diagonal to the Palazzo Reale across the Piazza Trieste e Trento. Although its glory days...Read More

  • 6. Maradona Mural

    Toledo

    This small square 300 yards up the hill from Via Toledo is a shrine to to Napoli's all-time favorite soccer player, Diego Maradona. "The hand...Read More

  • 7. Parco Vergiliano a Piedigrotta

    Mergellina

    An often overlooked sight in western Naples, the park is named for the poet Virgil and is reputedly his burial site. Not to be confused...Read More

  • 8. Parco Virgiliano

    Posillipo

    Perched 500 feet above the Bay of Naples, this large urban park is worth the trip for its stunning vistas that face the islet Nisida...Read More

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  • 9. Piazza del Plebiscito

    Toledo

    After spending time as a parking lot, this square was restored in 1994 to one of Napoli Nobilissima's most majestic spaces, with a Doric semicircle...Read More

  • 10. San Giovanni a Carbonara

    Decumano Maggiore

    An engaging complex of Renaissance architecture and sculpture, this church is named for its location during medieval times near the city trash dump, where refuse...Read More

  • 11. San Pietro ad Aram

    Piazza Garibaldi

    On the site of Naples's oldest church, it contains an altar where Saint Peter supposedly preached while in Naples. Enter by the side door on...Read More

  • 12. Santa Caterina a Formiello

    Porta Capuana

    With museum-worthy paintings and sculptures on display, this church is a must-see of Naples. The Formiello in the name refers to the formali, the nearby...Read More

  • 13. Via Toledo

    Toledo

    Sooner or later you'll wind up at one of the busiest commercial arteries, also known as Via Roma, which is thankfully closed to through traffic—at...Read More

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