TO INFINITY AND BEYOND...
The Sant´Elmo Castle overlooks the city of Naples from the highest point of the Vomero hill, located in Largo San Martino, from where you can enjoy a splendid view of the historic centre.
Roberto d´Angiò who commissioned the architect Tino da Camaino in 1325 to build the Palatium castrum, whose works were completed in 1343 under the reign of Gio-vanna I d´Anjou. It is a medieval castle built around 1300 on the same site. It was initially a Norman observation tower (called Belforte). In the 10th century, there was a chapel dedicated to Sant´Erasmo, from which Era-mo, Ermo and then Elmo arose, giving the fortress its present name.
Between the 17th and 18th centuries, the castle became a prison. The philosopher Tommaso Campanella was also imprisoned and was the seat of revolutionary move-ments in 1799. The people seized it and besieged the republicans who proclaimed the Neapolitan Republic in Piazza d´Armi. Castel Sant´Elmo, after the fall of the republic, remained a prison where Giustino Fortunato, Domenico Cirillo and Luisa Sanfelice were imprisoned and remained a military prison until 1952.
Only in the 20th century did Castel Sant´Elmo become a structure of cultural and mu-seum interest, and from 1982 the entire monumental complex was entrusted to the custody of the Superintendence for the Artistic and Historical Heritage of Naples, opened to the public in 1988.
Not to be missed during the visit to the castle is the suggestive Piazza d´Armi, from which you can enjoy an incredible view of the Gulf of Naples, the historic centre and the promenade, the Grotta dell´Ermitaño, the prisons of the ordinary prisoners and illus-three, the Torre del Castellano and the children´s Church of Sant´Erasmo, built by the Spanish architect Pietro Prati in 1547 and entirely rebuilt by the architect Domenico Fontana, located at the top of the large square.
It promises an extraordinary panoramic view of the whole city and the Bay of Naples.
Via Tito Angelini 22 - 80129 Naples
daily from 8.30 am to 7.30 pm (closed on Tuesday) the ticket office closes one hour before.
PERHAPS, THE BEST PIZZA IN THE WORLD!!!!!
Pizza, as you may know, was born in Naples. You may not know that fried pizza ex-isted in Naples before oven-baked pizza. And while the Neapolitans have elevated oven-baked pizza making to an art form, their skill at making fried pizza is even more excellent.
As with so many local specialities in this city, it´s hard to say who makes the best-fried pizza here; there are makeshift pizzerias on every corner in Naples, street vendors who make the perfect pizza.
There is a saying here, voce e´ popolo, voce e´ Dio (the Neapolitan version of vox populi vox Dei), which means that something is for sure, no doubt about it. And that applies to pizza wherever it is; it´s good all over town.
So important is pizza to the Neapolitans that it is even immortalised by Vittorio De Sica in the film ´The Gold of Naples, starring Giacomo Furia and Sophia Loren.
Like in that film, Enzo Piccirillo and his sons prepare the dough. His wife fries the pizza to perfection with traditional tools. They produce only one thing: the fried pizza, made with a light dough enclosing a mixture of ricotta, cicoli (fatty pork), provola cheese and tomato. A little pepper is added, and then Enzo pierces all sides of the pizza to make sure the filling doesn´t spill out.
After a few turns of the woman in the fryer, the pizza is ready, delicious, searingly hot. A few quick, deft movements - part of the family legacy - and the pizza is dipped in hot oil for only a few seconds. For those who can´t finish a whole one, there´s the battilocchio, a half portion.
Pizzas are bought and sold in the city´s most hidden corners. It benefits from the fact that fried pizza lends itself to home delivery. While the taste of baked pizza changes during delivery, the bite of fried pizza remains almost unchanged.
You could say that baked pizza is like a small child suffering from a car journey. Fried pizza is mature and can withstand the trip.
Why not try something so unique to this city?
Enjoy your meal!
CHRISTMAS 365 DAYS A YEAR...
Known in Italian as presepe (from the Latin praesepium, meaning "crib"), nativity scenes have a long historical tradition in Naples.
The origins of the nativity scene in Italy go back to Saint Francis of Assisi, who rec-reated the birth of Jesus visually for the first time in 1223. He celebrated the Nativity mass with a manger, live farm animals and shepherds to bring to life the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem.
Soon the tradition of depicting the Nativity of Christ spread throughout the Italian peninsula. The live nativity scene was followed by creating more miniature, hand-made nativity scenes with figures and models. They are known as presepe or creche.
The first historical mention of a presepe in Naples dates back to the early 13th century when documents note one inside a Church.
In the following decades and centuries, Neapolitan artists began to sculpt life-size figures of the Holy Family in the churches of Naples and beyond. They became mas-ters of nativity scenes, working with wood, terracotta, stone and the cheaper alterna-tive, paper-mâché.
In the 18th century, the Neapolitan presepe reached its golden age. Papier-mâché had become the material of choice because it was cheap and easy to work with.
These scenes began to depict less and less the Palestine of Jesus´ time and more Na-ples in the 18th century. There were intricate models of ladies and gentlemen of the high Bourbon aristocracy and ordinary people going about their business. Imagine the streets of Naples in the 17th century: blacksmiths, bakers and shoemakers plying their trades, foreign merchants selling their wares, criminals wandering about, Bourbon gendarmes patrolling the streets, gipsies reading cards, people throwing dice, children playing and housewives cooking.
During this same period, theatre and opera houses flourished in Naples. The Neapoli-tan taste for theatre was reflected in the nativity scenes. The expressive and theatrical figures seem to be still shots from a set.
Today, the Neapolitan tradition of the presepe is still alive and vibrant.
In the centre of Naples is the narrow, busy street known as Via San Gregorio Armeno. Also known as Via Dei Presepi, this area is lined with stalls displaying and selling traditional presepe.
There is a wide variety to choose from.
Many of the workshops are run by families who have been building high-quality handcrafted works for many generations. Other scenes are cheaply made from plastic or terracotta moulds.
Although other areas of southern Italy also have long traditions of the Presepe - such as the Amalfi Coast or Lecce - only Neapolitan nativity scenes can boast the coveted UNESCO designation as part of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
THERE WILL BE AN EGG ....????
One of Naples´ most famous and ancient castles is Castel dell´Ovo (Egg Castle).
Geographically, Castel dell´Ovo stands between the districts of San Ferdinando and Chiaia, facing Via Partenope, on the tufa islet of Megaride.
Its history is ancient and fascinating. In fact, it is said that in the 1st century B.C., Lucius Licinius Lucullus bought a large piece of land in this area and decided to build a marvellous villa on the island, the Villa of Licinius Lucullus.
This villa had a prosperous library and the breeding of moray eels and numerous peach trees imported from Persia. Later, around the middle of the 5th century, this villa was fortified by Valentinian III and became the residence of Romulus Augustus, the last Roman emperor. After Romulus´ death, the Basilian monks arrived on the islet of Megaride.
The history of Castel dell´Ovo then continued in the following years between various dominations and fortifications until King Charles of Anjou decided to move his court to the Maschio Angioino, storing in Castel dell´Ovo his most precious possessions and the royal treasure.
Further modifications and changes in the domination in the following years led to profound changes in the Castel dell´Ovo. Today, in its large halls, exhibitions, conferences and events are held. It remains one of the most beautiful symbols of the city of Naples.
However, the Castel dell´Ovo is also famous for its legend about it. A tale from which it seems to derive its curious name.
The legend of the Castel dell´Ovo, of medieval origin, seems to be one of the most imaginative in the Neapolitan tradition.
According to this legend, the castle takes its name from Virgil´s famous Latin poet, who hid an enchanted egg inside a cage.
The egg would have been placed by the poet "magician" inside a glass jar filled with water protected by an iron cage and hung from a heavy oak beam, and then placed in a room in the castle´s cellars.
So far, no one has found the magic egg. The place where it would have been kept was kept secret for a long time because "on that egg depended all the facts and fortune of Castel Marino" (as the castle was called).
In fact, legend has it that, until the egg was broken, the town and the castle would have been protected against all kinds of calamities. However, if anything had hap-pened to the egg, there would have been trouble for Naples and the Neapolitans.
TO GO BACK IN TIME ...... IS POSSIBLE
Forty metres below the characteristic and lively streets of the Historic Centre of Na-ples lies a different world, unexplored, isolated by time, but deeply connected to the world above.
It is the heart of Naples and the place from which the city was born. From the foun-dation of Neopoli to the bombs of the Second World War, every historical epic has left its mark on the yellow tufa walls, the soul of Naples, and the stone from which the city was built.
Naples is a city of exceptional beauty, a city of art. Still, few know about the under-ground reality of the city.
Naples Underground is a fascinating and recommended guided tour underneath the city of Naples. It will take you on a journey through 2,400 years of history, from the ancient Greeks to modern times, revealing the "bowels" of Naples from an archaeo-logical, historical, anthropological and geological point of view.
Descending 136 steps, low and comfortable, you will reach about 40 metres under-ground. You can visit some of the tuffaceous cavities excavated in Greek times (4th century BC) and exploit them as cisterns for our city´s water supply for about 23 cen-turies. The environment is vast and illuminated, except for a short segment where the route is optional but full of charm. Each person is given a candle to light their own way. The walking surface is also smooth and straight, and the tour lasts about an hour.
You can also visit the World War II air-raid shelters, the War Museum and the Hypo-geum Gardens, a new project offered to visitors by the Naples metro association and many educational and scientific activities.
In the darkness of the subsoil of Naples, 35 metres below the surface, there is, in fact, life.
WHY NOT CLIMB AN ACTIVE VOLCANO? !!!!
Mount Vesuvius is one of only two active volcanoes in continental Europe and is about 1,281 metres high, with a symmetrical central cone and steep wooden slopes. A visit to the crater is a must, and tourists worldwide come up the road every year to peer into its depths. The entire Vesuvius National Park is as beautiful as it is produc-tive, and is dotted with small farms and wineries planted with indigenous varieties that enjoy a unique terroir.
The curious have been climbing the slopes of Vesuvius since the 17th century, as the crater was considered one of the most "exotic" stops on the Grand Tour, attracting tourists from northern Europe who had never seen a volcano before.
Between the 18th and 19th centuries, the ruins of Pompeii were discovered by chance, and the trip to Pompeii-Vesuvius also became a cultural attraction. Many travellers attracted by the unearthed city also wanted to see the volcano that had destroyed it, and excursions up the mountainside were a significant attraction.
From the 18th century to the present day, hiking Vesuvius has been one of the most popular activities in the area; the Volcanological Observatory, founded in 1841, and the Official Association of Mountain Guides, founded in 1855, have expert guides able to accompany tourists up the final stretch of the mountain path.
Still today, the most popular route for visitors is the climb up the highest part of the cone to the crater rim, which is not particularly difficult, can be done by anyone and requires no hiking experience.
Buses and shuttles run up the lower slope of Vesuvius, stopping at the ticket office at 1,050 metres above sea level.
This is the beginning of the trail, which offers views of Vesuvius Park overlooking the Tirone Reserve, the Bay of Naples and the Campania plain. About halfway along the path, you can begin to see Punta Nasone and, on the opposite side, Cognoli di Ottaviano, which rises above the Valle dell´Inferno (Hell Valley). Continue along the broom-lined road up the short climb under maritime pines and birch trees to the For-estry Service post. Walk along with it to the edge of the crater, with its breathtaking view over the entire Bay of Naples, the ruins of Pompeii and the Apennine mountains of Molise and Abruzzo.
We assure you of a unique experience. Beware of the wind, don´t get blown away...!!!!
BEAUTY BEYOND STENDHAL .......
Without a stop at the Veiled Christ, jewel of the Sansevero Chapel, a visit to Naples would be wholly incomplete. Missing the Veiled Christ would mean missing not only one of the greatest masterpieces of Naples but also the world´s most regal and myste-rious sculpture.
Built in 1753 by Giuseppe Sanmartino, the Veiled Christ, is located in the Sansevero Chapel, a mausoleum built between 1593 and 1766. Here the mastery of Mediterrane-an artists is combined with the Neapolitan Masonic tradition.
Not even the experts have been able to explain how Sanmartino managed to give such hyper-realistic consistency to the marble veil covering the suffering body of Christ.
It is said that the artist achieved it thanks to the obscure alchemical knowledge passed on to him by the eclectic and shadowy owner of the chapel: Raimondo di Sangro, Prince of Sansevero.
Only an ancient and inaccessible secret can justify the realism of the veiled Christ. On the other hand, it seems more difficult to explain the sensations one feels when admir-ing him: he looks capable of narrating the atrocities of the Passion, inscribed in the pure beauty of his grey marble.
According to legend, the veil covering his face was not sculpted but petrified on his face.
Even though the Veiled Christ will long hold your gaze, don´t forget that it is not the only masterpiece in the Sansevero Chapel.
In fact, Christ is surrounded by other marvellous works of art. Of particular note are the symbolic representations of the Virtues, emblematic of the customs and ideology of late-baroque Naples.
Don´t miss the dark basement of the chapel, where you can see the two sublime ana-tomical machines: two corpses - a man and a woman - whose circulatory systems have been preserved intact thanks to the mysterious methods of the Prince of Sansevero and his followers. Terrifying but absolutely unmissable.
What are you waiting for? The Veiled Christ and the shadow of the Prince of Sansevero await you in the heart of Naples.
Once in Naples, the taxi drivers are the first people you will come across. Beyond prejudice, a taxi ride involves a witty and often philosophical chat with interesting people.
To visit Naples, follow this route I recommend: ask the driver to take you to San Mar-tino, a monastery perched on Vomero Hill, near Castel Sant´Elmo, where rebels took refuge in 1799 before being executed by hanging on Lord Nelson´s orders. At the top, the view of the city is breathtaking. This is also the site of the Bethlehem Museum (presepe, in Italian).
Walk down towards the city centre along the Spaccanapoli road. The ancient De-cumano Inferiore is the Greek road that crossed the ancient Neapolis.
Spaccanapoli is a local idiom, meaning a road that crosses the city from north to south, dividing it into districts. It takes different characters in the various areas it crosses. In some places, it is called Pasquale Scura street, San Biagio Dei Librai or Benedetto Croce street.
Along the Spaccanapoli, you will come across the piazza del Gesù Novo, with the church of Santa Chiara and its marvellous courtyard. Near the piazza of San Domenico Maggiore, you´ll find the chapel of San Severo, named after the alchemist who stripped the flesh from two bodies to show the cardiovascular system. It may look a bit scary, but the chapel is fascinating.
Nearby you can´t miss the Church of San Gregorio Armeno: a local tradition is to set up different nativity scenes, the Italian presepi, with some figurines representing real characters from the past and present. This place is crowded on Saturdays and Sundays during the Christmas season, so it is advisable to plan a visit during the week.
Not far from here is the small square Nilo, famous for a hanging altarpiece with one of Maradona´s hairs.
A long street for a pleasant stroll where you can find everything.
Good shoes and a lot of desire!!!!! Of course, this is only one of the thousands of faces of Naples. But it is the one we recommend.
ART MUSIC, MORE ART AND MORE MUSIC .....
The Piazza del Plebiscito (formerly Largo di Palazzo or Foro Regio) is one of the most beautiful and characteristic squares in Naples, named after the referendum which, in October 1860, established the annexation of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies to the Kingdom of Sardinia.
Although in the 16th century, the square was already present as a widening of a Palazzo Vicereale, the natural history of the Piazza del Plebiscito began only when the Palazzo Reale was completed, when Domenico Fontana, one of the famous architects of the palace, decided to design a "Largo di Palazzo" that would no longer turn towards the "Toledo road" but towards the emerging open space, built as if it were a scenic, architectural backdrop that would make a dialogue with the city, decided to design a "Largo di Palazzo" that would no longer turn towards the "Toledo road", but towards the emerging open space, built as if it were a scenic, architectural backdrop that would bring the city into dialogue with the opening towards the sea.
The Piazza del Plebiscito has a very particular shape. Its structure is half semicircular, starting from the Basilica of San Francesco di Paola in the centre of the square sur-rounded by the colonnade, and half rectangular, from the closing of the hemicycle to the Royal Palace.
Situated in the city´s historic centre, between the Lungomare and Via Toledo, the square is about 25,000 square metres wide. For this reason, it is often used as a venue for significant events, such as concerts or fairs.
In Piazza del Plebiscito, there are essential statues and palaces and the famous and spectacular Royal Pontifical Basilica of San Francesco di Paola, characterised by its semicircular colonnade.
The equestrian statues of Ferdinando I and Carlo III, the Palace of the Prefecture, Palazzo Salerno and the Royal Palace of Naples.
As tradition dictates, once you reach the Piazza del Plebiscito, tourists and Neapoli-tans themselves try their luck at a particular game: crossing the square blindfolded. Be careful with the tiles, which are many years old.
The challenge is to let a blindfolded person walk through the Palazzo Reale towards the two statues of horses in the centre of the square. Given the square´s natural slope, a seemingly impossible mission will always tend to turn the blindfolded man into a straight path toward the two statues. Inevitably, the brave man will find himself on the other side of the square, to the right or left, without even realising it.
According to legend, it is a curse cast by Queen Margherita di Savoia that forced prisoners to cross the square blindfolded to save their lives. But no one, of course, was able to do so. Instead, the most logical explanation has to do with the sanpietrini paving that covers the square, arranged in a non-rectilinear way so that it leads anyone (obviously blindfolded) from one side of the square to the other without ever follow-ing a straight line.
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