Royal Naples & Monte Echia
This breezy coastal area shows off the grand public face of the city: a huge palace, two castles, a world-renowned opera house, smart cafés and even some greenery. Here, too, is the main port, with ferries to the islands. Like every district in Naples, it has a funky side – in this case the rather down-at-heel neighbourhood of Monte Echia.
Welcome to the nucleus of ancient Neapolis, founded by the Greeks and carried forward by the Romans. The streets seem run-down and dilapidated – but give the Centro Storico a chance, and you’ll fall under its spell. The colourful merchandise, buzzing pizzerie and the sense of electrifying ferment make for a wonderful slice of Neopolitan vitality.
The Port & University
The presence of the University has given rise to some of the city’s most simpatico nightspots, and lively bars and clubs are one of the area’s main attractions. Grand schemes are afoot here, too – namely an ambitious plan to refurbish the port, installing pedestrian-only zones and eliminating the shoreline highway. The area has seen attempts at urban renewal before – notably on Corso Umberto, filled with traffic and still awaiting the completion of the new metro line.
Via Toledo & La Sanità
This rambling swathe of cityscape is nothing if not varied, encompassing two notoriously grotty (albeit fascinating) enclaves of the Camorra, the Quartieri Spagnoli and La Sanità, the world’s premier archaeological museum, and one of Europe’s first and finest botanical gardens, rounded out by a seemingly endless shopping street.
The city’s biggest park and a palace with one of the world’s most superb art collections are perched atop a hill in a lavish display of wealth and power. The Bourbon king who commissioned the palace had planned a modest hunting lodge, but soon the project’s scope – and costs – soared.
Ride one of the fêted funiculars up to this leafy residential district, topped off by a star-shaped fortress. The Parco della Floridiana provides more greenery and a villa, now home to a ceramics museum; and the Certosa di San Martino is a palace turned art museum. It’s from this coveted eyrie and its terraced gardens that you can take in the most famous view of the bay, the city below, and Vesuvius beyond.
Chiaia to Posillipo
Stretched out along the shoreline, against a backdrop of pastel palazzi ascending the hills, this is Naples’ most upmarket locale. It’s the place where wealthy Romans and grand tourists chose to enjoy their sojourns; today, it’s home to smart shops, galleries, beautiful parks and mansions. In the evening, the fashionable set flocks to its restaurants and bars.
This peninsula to the west of the city has some of the area’s most significant archaeological remains and geothermal sights. In addition to its well-preserved Roman amphitheatre and ancient market, the port town of Pozzuoli boasts a fuming dormant volcano. The ruins of ancient Cuma and the grotto of Sibyl are essential sights; meanwhile, the areas around Baia and Bacoli are strewn with ancient palaces and temples. Near Capo Miseno you’ll find the best beaches in the area, without having to head out to the islands.
Pompeii & Vesuvius
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