The Under Rated Capital of Campania, Naples

The Under Rated Capital of Campania, Naples

October 15, 2016 – Following our excursion to Herculaneum we returned to the MV Aegean Odyssey (docked in Naples Harbour) for lunch and a quick nap. Then it was time for an afternoon, unguided walk through Naples.

Castel Nuovo

Naples is said to be one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world. It was originally a Greek settlement under a different name in the second millennium BC. Then founded as Neapolis in the 6th Century BC. Under Roman rule it played a key role in the merging of Greek and Roman cultures. In the 13th century to early in the 19 century it was the capital of the Kingdom of Naples, then the capital of the Kingdom of Sicily until the unification of Italy in 1861.

The entrance to Castel Nuovo

Naples is well-known for its historic castles. The ancient Castel Nuovo is one of the city’s most recognisable landmarks; it was built during the time of Charles I, the first king of Naples. In 1294, Pope Celestine V resigned as pope in a hall of the castle, and following this Pope Boniface VIII was elected pope by the cardinal collegium there, before moving to Rome.

There are many more fascinating “facts” about Naples. For example, it is said to have 448 historical churches.


The church of San Francesco di Paola is on the west side of the main city square or piazza of the city, the Piazza del Plebiscito. On the east side of the piazza is the Royal Palace.

In the early 19th century, King Joachim Murat of Naples (Napoleon’s brother-in-law) planned the entire square and a large building with the colonnades as a tribute to Napoleon. Its construction was begun by King Joachim Murat and finished by the Bourbon King Ferdinand IV in 1816. He converted the finished product into the church and dedicated it to Saint Francis of Paola, who had stayed in a monastery on this site in the 16th century.

Near the Piazza del Plebiscito is the Teatro di San Carlo

Corner of Teatro di San Carlo (Opera Theatre) on left, Galleria Umberto 1 (main shopping centre) in centre.

The facades of the Opera Theatre and the Galleria were undergoing major restorations. The theatre’s facade was almost entirely covered with a hording.

The nearby streets were a mix of style and clutter.


We walked along Via Chiaia…


…then up Gradoni Di Chiaia…


About 4.4 million people live in the Naples metropolitan area, one of the largest metropolises on the Mediterranean Sea. The density of housing is apparent as one walks the streets.

sculpture at the Facility of Arts, University of Naples

…then down to Via Toledo.


Via Toledo was busy with late afternoon shoppers…


… although there were breaks in the flow of people.


Via Toledo is a 1 km long ancient street. It starts near Piazza del Plebiscito and heads west to Piazza Dante. The street was created by Spanish viceroy Pedro Álvarez de Toledo, 2nd Marquis of Villafranca in 1536.


After a birra on Via Toledo we made our way back home (MV Aegean Odyssey).

A windmill in the city centre (for city water supply? Ha, Ha)
Did someone “spike” my coffee? Everything’s starting to look a little fuzzy
Chiesa Dell’ Incoronata – a church below street level
MV Aegean Odyssey with Mount Vesuvius behind her

Our Voyage to Antiquity was a sample cruise, with just enough time to enjoy the “flavour” of each destination. I wish we’d had time to visit the various museums and art galleries that house a wealth of Roman artifacts and major art works from 13th to 18th centuries. So, as with most of the other destination we felt we had not done justice to Naples, but at least we have now experienced a part of it.

Moonrise over Vesuvius


Our next episode will be from Sorrento, hope you’ll join us there.

Feel free to leave a comment or a correction below.

  • Kevin @ Bev G.
    Posted at 14:56h, 29 March Reply

    Alister and Maggie, those views are breathtaking! They give substance to that old aphorism “see Naples and die”.Maybe that should be Die!”

    I imagine Via Toledo is the heart of fashion and fun.
    If my recollection of Roman numerals is accurate, the Galleria Umberto was either built or renovated in the year 1890! I’m not betting the house on my opinion!
    Congratulations again, Alister. The photos, the supporting blogs, and the selections are masterly. Thanks from K’n’B.

    • alistairstravel
      Posted at 07:25h, 30 March Reply

      Thank you for more insightful comments Kevin.
      I’m certain you are right about Via Toledo. The atmosphere was vibrant the evening we were there.
      As for the Galleria, you have unearthed a small mystery. According to Wikipedia it was completed in 1891. Since your reading of the Roman numerals is correct, perhaps the designer expected it to be finished in 1890 or maybe it was opened prior to completion, or perhaps Wikipedia has made a mistake? Regardless, I’m pleased you raised the question.

      • Kevin @ Bev G.
        Posted at 15:58h, 31 March

        Alister, looking again at your photo, it’s possible that the angled view obliterated a single Roman “one” following the final “o”.
        Wikipedia is seldom wrong. Cheers, K.

  • alistairstravel
    Posted at 17:13h, 31 March Reply

    I should have mentioned that I had looked at photos by other photographers and found that there is no “I” at the end. I have since found two websites that refer to 1890 as the completion date.
    Not conclusive either way.

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