The German intellectual Walter Benjamin defined Naples as “ porous city”. Armies, dynasties, languages and cultures come and go without really changing the nature of the place and its people. It is also a place that grows on you and surprises you; behind the front door of a seemingly normal building you will find well tended gardens and timeless works of art.
Napoli is beautiful and tragic. It is full of museums, archeological areas, natural vistas and historic testimonials impossible to find all at once in any other place.
Day 1 – The historic center corresponds to the ancient city founded by the Athenians around 450 B.C. as Neapolis, through the Roman until the Medieval era. It includes over 250 churches, palazzi from the 13th through the 20th century and countless art treasures.
Your exploration starts from the Forum, then under the gotic church of San Lorenzo Maggiore to view the ruins of the Roman streets and the Macellum, the food market. Then on to San Gregorio Armeno, where the world famous Neapolitan Crib art are made, and the Cappella Sansevero where you will see the sculpture of the Veiled Christ.
Then you will travel along the lower Decuman, main artery of the ancient city, and magnificient squares and churches: piazza San Domenico Maggiore and Church, piazza del Gesù and its Baroque church, medieval Santa Chiara right across the square.
Lunch with pizza and other lesser know but equally tasty Neapolitan specialties. Your journey continues on via Toledo, a road expanded during the Renaissance to connect the historic center with the Spanish viceroy’s palace. Here is where Naples’ second historic center begins with the Umberto I Gallery, a great example of end of the 19th Century European architecture, the San Carlo Royal Opera House (first ever public opera house), the Royal Palace, residence of the Bourbon dynasty (1734-1861), trendy via Chiaia and the world famous waterfront, from the Maschio Angioino Castle to Castel dell’Ovo where, according to the legend of Ulysses, the orginal city of Partenope was founded in 750 BC - the Neapolitans are also called “Partenopei”.
Your first day in Partenope ends with a romantic dinner on the waterfront with spectacular views of Naples Bay and to the sound of music that has made this city famous.
Day 2 – Meet the Vesuvius and Pompei. You will need to spend at least half a day here just to appreciate the many things we have in common with the people that lived here in 75 A.D.
Following lunch in a Vesuvius area farmhouse with slow food and organic wines, we will visit the Roman Villas of Stabiae, today’s Castellammare, another city affected by the eruption.. This is where the elite and the Roman aristocracy lived.
Day 3 – Flegrean Fields. There is a place where the fields “burn”, and vapors and mud come out of the land whose level is constantly rising and lowering; where volcanos like 133 meter high Monte Nuovo have emerged overnight. Hence, the name Campi Flegrei coined by the Greeks who first saw it 2800 years ago, assuming that Titans where imprisoned underground and their breathing caused the bradisism phenomenon of the earth’s crust.
Our voyage begins in Pozzuoli where you can see the remains of the Macellum and the underground Roman city Rione Terra by simply entering a 17th Century palazzo. Bradisism is also responsible for the sinking of the entire Roman Imperial city of Baia, which you will see through a boat with a transparent bottom. Then, just across the bay of Pozzuoli, you will visit the Baia Castle and the Museo Archeologico Nazionale dei Campi Flegrei.
Lunch with local typical products and wines along the shores of Lago d’Averno, a perfectly round body of water arising from a volcano crater; this is where in Virgil’s Aeneid Aeneas descends to the world of the dead.
In the afternoon, we will pass by Miseno, home port of Rome’s navy; it is from here that Plini the Elder sailed in a vain attempt to save Pompeii. Your tour will end where it all began: Cuma. This is where Southern Italy began its journey as Magna Grecia and acted as a catalyst to bring Greek culture to Rome. In many ways, Western civilization began right here 2750 years ago with the Cuman Sibilla and its myths. Dinner by the sea.
For Your Personalized Cultural Tour of the Naples Area