Naples

For other places with the same name, see Naples (disambiguation).
Mergellina, one of the best known Naples districts.

Naples (Italian: Napoli; Neapolitan: Napule) in Italy, an ancient port on the Mediterranean sea, is the third most populous municipality and centre of the second most populous metropolitan area in Italy.

Founded more than 2,800 years ago (8th century BC) as Neapolis ("New City") by the Greeks, it is one of the oldest continuously-inhabited cities in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage site. The UNESCO evaluation committee described Naples' centre as being "of exceptional value", and went on to say that Naples' setting on the Bay of Naples "gives it an outstanding universal value which has had a profound influence". But Italians have known these things for centuries: The view of Naples from the sea is so beautiful that a traditional Italian saying states that once you've seen it, you can die.

Born as a Greek colony of Cuma and virtually positioned in the geographical center of the Mediterranean basin, it has an unmatched heritage as a place of exchange between cultures. This is reflected in the city's structure and monuments, a mixture of Greek, Roman, Norman, Angevin, Swedish, Spanish and French architecture. The Neapolitan language - notoriously unintelligible to many speakers of standard Tuscan Italian - also bears witness to the town's diverse cultural origins, being composed of French, Spanish and Arab words, inserted into a Greek, Oscan and Latin structure.

As a testimony to its extraordinary history, the Naples region hosts an unparalleled concentration of UNESCO World Heritage sites: the Center of Naples itself; the Roman archeological sites of Pompeii, Herculaneum, Oplontis and Stabiae; the Royal Palace of Caserta; the royal site of San Leucio and the Aqueduct of Vanvitelli. It is close to Vesuvius, the only active volcano on the European continent and itself a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Paestum's Greek temples and the Amalfi Coast, also UNESCO's World Heritage sites, are possible day trips, as are the islands of Capri, Ischia and Procida in the Bay of Naples.

Naples was the World Capital of Cultures in 2013, since it hosted the Universal Forum of Cultures (UFC) from April 10 to July 21, 2013.

Understand

Both Naples and the locally-used Italian Napoli are acceptable names for the city, and derivatives of the original Greek name of Neapolis.

The most widely spoken language in Naples is Italian or a mixture of Italian and Napulitano (Neapolitan). Neapolitan is sometimes described as an Italian dialect, but it is officially acknowledged by UNESCO as a distinct language, with well-defined roots and rules, and there is a great heritage of literature (eg. Giambattista Basile's Lo cunto de li cunti, a collection of fairy tales) and songs ('O sole mio and Torna a Surriento are some iconic examples) in Napulitano. Neapolitan is still thriving in Campania and adjacent parts of Lazio, Abruzzo, Basilicata, Molise and Calabria. This said, the official language of Naples (as of all of Italy) is Italian and everyone can speak it when prompted, though often with a strong local accent.

Neapolitan has strong Spanish and French influences originating from periods of Spanish and French rule. Therefore, more Spanish and French words are understood by the locals than in other parts of Italy.

English is the most commonly spoken foreign language, although the average knowledge of English is far from excellent.

Get in

By plane

Naples is served by Naples International Airport (Aeroporto Internazionale di Napoli), also known as Capodichino Airport (IATA: NAP) . Works for connecting the airport to Naples Metro system are expected to be completed in 2020, but for the moment it is not served by any rail system.

From the airport you can take a bus for €3 (called Alibus: ) which has two stops only: Stazione Centrale (Central station) and Piazza Municipio, near the main ferry port (molo Beverello). You can buy your ticket on the bus. Further connections are listed on this page of the official website of the airport:

If you have time to spare, you can take the 3S bus that will take you to the same stops as the Alibus for a cheaper price. The difference is that the Alibus has limited stops but the 3S will take you to the backstreets leading to the Stazione continuing all the way to the port and a shopping district. Also, the Alibus is air conditioned whereas most 3S buses are not.

Beware of illegal, unauthorized taxis and of anyone who may approach you directly. Authorized taxis are clearly visible at the exit; fixed fares exist for a number of destinations, and must be clearly shown in the cab. Make sure they are before getting on the cab and threaten to call the police ("polizia") should the taxi driver try to push back.

By train

The main station is Napoli Centrale - Piazza Garibaldi Station, connected to the Naples subway system. The buses R2 or 601 from the Piazza Garibaldi in front of the train station will take you within three blocks of the ferries at Stazione Marittima. Other stations include Mergellina, a magnificent Art Déco building and Campi Flegrei. The costs of trains from / to Rome vary a lot, ranging from a 10.50 Euro 3-hour regional train to a 45 Euro 1-hour 10-minute Eurostar (58 Euro in First Class).

By boat

Mergellina Harbour, with the Castel dell'Ovo on the shore at centre and Vesuvius looming further in the background

Cruise ships dock at Stazione Marittima, a large terminal located right in the city center, near Piazza Municipio.

By car

Naples is directly connected with Rome by the A1 highway, and the trip takes generally less than 2 hours. Due to traffic jam and parking shortage in city center, it's advisable to leave your car in a parking lot near the motorway exit or your accommodation, and to use public transportation

By bus

Many national and international private bus services operate in Naples, generally stopping at Piazza Garibaldi or Piazza Municipio.

Get around

Traffic in Naples may be extremely heavy, very similar to that of other big cities like Paris and New York. Extensive excavation works are ongoing to complete some metro segments, adding further to traffic in some areas. A typical example is the train station area, which is presently undergoing a complete makeover (a model of how it will look is observable in the interior of Stazione Centrale), plus the excavation of two separate metro lines - one connecting the Station with Università stop and another which will connect Stazione Centrale with Capodichino Airport. Another example is Piazza Nicola Amore (commonly known as Piazza Quattro Palazzi because of the four twin buildings surrounding it), where metro line excavations revealed an ancient Roman temple, whose structure will be integrated in the futuristic station designed by the world-class architect Renzo Piano.

Nowadays, normal traffic regulations are generally observed in Naples; however, it is prudent to follow the locals when crossing the street. Since pedestrians often cross the street in the middle of the block, Neapolitan drivers are very attentive, and accidents are very rare. Remember to always look left (and not right) for incoming cars or motorbikes, since circulation follows European standards.

By taxi

Taxis and the Metro are the quickest ways to see Naples. Taxis are the most expensive way, though. Before getting into a taxi, make sure it is licensed. Licensed taxis will have a city crest on the door and a taxi number. Also, make sure it has a meter. By law, licensed taxis must display a list of pre-agreed fares in a number of languages (Italian, English, French, German, Spanish). Check for such fares and agree to them before starting the journey.

On foot

You will be surprised how easily you can get around by foot, too. Interesting spots are almost on every corner and most distances – especially in the (historic) centre – are small and can easily be walked in a matter of minutes.

By public transportation on land

The funicular train stopped at the Via Morghen station in Vomero

It is fairly difficult to get a clear picture of the public transportation system in Naples, since different lines are operated by different companies. Nonetheless, one can buy a "Unico", which is either a daily pass for three Euro valid on all vehicles; or a € 1,30 ticket, which enables passengers to travel for 90 minutes on as many lines as they want (Bus, subway, funicolare).

Tickets can be bought at any authorized selling point, a very common place where to find them outside the railway or Metro stations is tobacco shops (Tabaccheria, easily identified by a big white "T" on a rectangular black field) or newspaper shops. They are not sold aboard the trains or buses. As normal, passengers are randomly checked for having a ticket by authorized personnel. Not having a ticket obviously results into a huge fine, with no exceptions, since in Italy this act is a tax offense.

The most important metro lines are:

  • Linea 1, built recently, connects the city center to the hill quarters, like Vomero and the hospitals area. Avoid passing through Piscinola and Secondigliano as those areas can be very dodgy and dangerous.
  • Linea 2, much older, connects the three main train stations to Pozzuoli. The tracks are shared with the ordinary railway
  • Linea 6, a new light subway connecting Fuorigrotta to Mergellina.

Naples Metro is itself a tourist attraction, since many of its newest stations were built and decorated with modern art works. On 2009, it won the prize for the "Most Innovative Approach to Station Development" at Metros 2009. On 2012, the Toledo station was elected as the "Europe's most impressive" by the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph for its remarkable artistic value.

There are three different regional train services that operate in Naples and the surrounding areas. They are listed here:

By ferry/hydrofoil

There are several ferry/hydrofoil services that connect Naples and local ports/islands. Ferry and hydrofoil services leave from either Molo Beverello, Mergellina or Pozzuoli. Some then of them are listed here:

Reaching one of the islands in the gulf by ferry can take up to 70 minutes (hydrofoils are much faster, but this comes with a further cost). For most part of the year, the sea is calm, and in any case when it happens to be rough the boats' runs are stopped.

In any case, it is advised to follow the normal measures for any travel on the sea. In particular, if you are sensible to the rolling of the ships, or travel with young children, consider to take an appropriate medication to avoid any adverse effects. Ferries also have open decks, which are particularly attractive and scenic to use especially by spring and summer. As normal in any similar conditions, and especially if you come from a cold climate and/or wear a clear skin, it is advisable to wear a cap and protect exposed skin with solar screens, in order to avoid sunburns.

Be sure to check for dolphins or sea turtles while traveling toward Capri, in particular. Loggerhead sea turtles are quite common, and Naples' Aquarium also hosts a renowned veterinary unit, whose specialty is to recover and heal wounded turtles and get them back to the sea.

See

Interior of the Duomo (Cathedral)

Urban center of Naples

As a UNESCO World Heritage site, the center of Naples hosts a huge number of architectural landmarks. A non-comprehensive list of the most notable monuments and sites includes:

Castel Nuovo, or the Maschio Angioino
Interior of the church of Gesù Nuovo
Palazzo Donn'Anna in Posillipo

Museums

Mosaic of marine life from Pompeii, c. 100 BC, which is exhibited at the Naples National Archeological Museum

Naples' surroundings

Vesuvius. Mount Vesuvius buried Herculaneum and Pompeii in 79 AD

Naples is often used as a base to visit the ancient ruins and excavations of Herculaneum and Pompeii near the city.

Do

The San Carlo Theatre (interior)

Buy

Interior of the historic Galleria Umberto I, one of the world's early shopping centres

Naples has vibrant markets and many small shops that sell everything from clothes to household appliances at prices much lower than in most of Western Europe. Especially to be seen is the Porta Nolana, Pignasecca and the Vasto markets, which also give a grasp of popular Neapolitan life. Not to be lost is the impromptu fish market which happens especially on Sunday morning at Rotonda Diaz, the central square of Via Caracciolo. Small fishing boats come ashore, and directly sell fresh and often alive fish and octopuses, a very characteristic and joyful scene of Naples' life.

Do not buy any evidently fake items sold in the street, especially fake big fashion firms' products like purses, foulards, sunglasses and so on. A huge number of plainclothes police raid the streets to combat the trade in counterfeit products, and it's not only the sellers who get in trouble: according to Italian laws, if you are caught buying one of these products, you risk being arrested and subjected to a huge fine.

Also, do not buy electronic products like iPhones, iPads and cameras on the streets. Normally, the ones which illegal street vendors try to sell you are fakes that the sell you after they've shown you a real one and made a quick switch through sleight of hand. Don't think you can outsmart these scammers.

You can support shops and businesses that fight against the extortion racket (also called "pizzo") by shopping there.

Eat

Spaghetti alle vongole, a typical pasta and seafood plate
Pizza margherita, topped by a Mozzarella di bufala bocconcino
Naples is the hometown of Neapolitan babà

Neapolitan cuisine in general features much seafood, befitting its status as an ancient and still functioning port. You will find many sauces based on garlic sauteed in extra-virgin olive oil, tomatoes, and local red wines. Some of the sauces are arrabbiata ("angry") or fra diavolo ("brother Devil"), which means they will contain hot pepper. It's a great cuisine. Enjoy!

Mozzarella is also typical of the region; don't miss the opportunity to taste the fresh real one!

Pizza

Pizza comes from Naples. Look for pizza margherita, the original one, with tomato, basil and fresh mozzarella toppings. In Naples every pizzeria makes a decent pizza, and Neapolitans believe their pizza is the best in the world. Unlike pizza in places like the United States, Neapolitan pizza is generally very thin-crusted and saucy and is expected to be eaten as a whole pie while sitting down.

Some places display the label "Vera Pizza Napoletana" ("True Neapolitan Pizza" there is a Pulcinella mask baking a pizza in a stylized Vesuvio) which indicates that the pizzeria follows the standards of The Naples Pizza Association. If you want to try some pizza, go to Pizzeria Brandi, where the "pizza margherita" was allegedly born; but today the best choices would be: Da Michele or Trianon da Ciro. These pizzerias make the most authentic pizza, but be careful because they are located near Forcella which is not the safest part of Naples, although generally OK during the day.

Some other places that are very popular among the Neapolitans are almost all the pizzerias in Via dei Tribunali, in particular:

Pastries

The city and region are also famous for their pasticceria (pastries), (Babà, Zeppole, Sfogliatella, and more; this latter is often filled with ricotta cheese or cream with citrus flavor) among the best are:

Struffoli and Roccocò are typical Christmas sweets. Pastiera is the sweet of Easter: anyway you can find it all year long. It is made basically of ricotta cheese melted with steamed corn and sugar, and then baked.

Drink

Naples is becoming increasingly popular with a younger generation of both Italians and foreigners who flood into the city and lend renewed vitality to its nightlife. The hippest scene is around the bars and cafes on Piazza Bellini, Piazza Santa Maria la Nova and Piazza San Domenico Maggiore, becoming busy after about 11PM. Also Piazza San Pasquale and Mergellina are typical places for the local movida. If you want to venture to the outskirts of the city, there are many bars and clubs near the port and boardwalk (the 'Lungomare') of Pozzuoli. While Neapolitans (and Vigili Urbani, the town's local police) are largely tolerant to youngsters drinking, having fun and making noise, even at late hours, getting drunk and causing damages or littering is not tolerated.

Campanian wine has become famous worldwide in the last decade or so, and delicious naturally lightly carbonated mineral water with minerals from Vesuvius is available and worth searching out.

Sleep

You can't stay at the Palazzo Reale, but you can visit it

Accommodation in Naples is normally cheaper than in Rome or northern Italian cities for comparable quality, and a wide range of accommodations is available.

Budget

Mid-range

You can't stay in the cloister of the Basilica of Santa Chiara, either: It was a convent that was heavily damaged during World War II and reconstructed in the decades since the war

Warning! Naples hotel touts

This Naples guide is heavily frequented by business owners keen on adding their own hotel or rental agency. While the worst of them are removed on a regular basis, you should always check other reviews before committing. Many unscrupulous hotel owners are also busy creating false reviews of their accommodation on other well-known travel sites - so tread carefully!

Splurge


Stay safe

As in most of the big cities in the world, being safe in Naples is a question of knowing the places and hours when going around is potentially unsafe.

There are some parts of Naples that should be avoided after dark. It is sufficient, in this respect, to follow the habits and behavior of Neapolitans. Typical examples of places to avoid with dark are the "Quartieri Spagnoli" and the "Sanità". Both are reasonably safe during the day, and also have notable points of interest, like the catacombs of "Underground Naples" (Napoli Sotterranea) in Sanità. Especially to be avoided, but of no practical interest for tourists, is Scampia, where there is much petty crime and drug traffic.

Naples has an inequitable distribution of wealth. The city centre has wealthy areas right next to impoverished ones (a typical example are the popular Quartieri Spagnoli, alongside via Toledo, Piazza del Plebiscito and Riviera di Chiaia, the main shopping streets). Naples' bad reputation regarding safety is mainly due to stereotypes, since the city's security level is actually comparable to many other European big cities (e.g., Barcelona, Marseille, Amsterdam). Petty thievery and muggings definitely do happen, so as in similar cities, be reasonably watchful, avoid empty streets and dimly-lit alleys at night, and keep your wits about yourself. On the other hand, since weather is generally nice, Neapolitans spend a lot of time in the streets, including in the winter and at night. Places like Mergellina and Via Caracciolo (the scenic streets alongside the sea) are generally full of people till late at night and very safe.

Contrary to what newspapers, books and movies seem to suggest, the local mafia (Camorra) poses little or no threat to tourists, since it is involved in activities like prostitution (which is illegal in Italy), racketeering and drug trafficking.

People in Naples are extremely nice and gentle, ready to help if you are in difficulty or lost. It is not uncommon for Neapolitans try to make themselves understood with words and gestures, even if they do not speak a tourist's mother tongue. Being very aware and proud of their town's beauties, if they understand you have a particular interest for a place, they may leave their activities and accompany you there, and even show you uncommon places which are not publicized in tour guides.

Aside from issues of petty crime, Naples is a very safe town for women. Official statistical data from ISTAT (the Italian Government Official Statistical Office) show that Naples' rape rate is much lower than that of other Italian cities like Milan, Rome or Florence. Young women who appear to be unaccompanied may experience some more or less persistent flirting from Neapolitan men, but you will usually be left alone if you show them you are not interested.

Neapolitans are also typically very protective toward female family members and Neapolitan women, generally. It is therefore potentially unsafe, especially in a crowd, to insist on courting or asking out a local woman when she has made it clear she is not interested.

Whoever comes to Naples historical city centre has to take some generic precautions, normal for any big town with poor areas:

Connect

Naples has a free network of public Wi-Fi access, which fills the following zones:

Every user can use these free hotspots for 2 hours per day.

Go next

There is fast express train service to Rome and points north, as well as points south. Naples is the ultimate terminus for the FR7 line of the Rome commuter rail network, which runs from Roma Termini to Minturno-Scauri, Sessa Aurunca-Rocca or Naples. There are also local Italian Railway trains to Pompeii, but for such short distances, it is easiest to take the Circumvesuviana commuter train.

It's easy to find ferries to places like Sicily.

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Thursday, February 25, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.