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  • Teatro di San Carlo (Naples, Italy)

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City info

Welcome to Naples (Napoli), Italy’s third largest city, which stands within sight of Europe’s only active volcano, Mount Vesuvius. Naples is one of the oldest and most cultural cities in Europe with a Centro Storico (historic centre) that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It has more than its share of architectural treasures, magnificent palazzos, castles and churches to thrill any cultured visitor. Amidst the shabby stucco you’ll discover ancient frescoes, marble sculptures and gorgeous bay views. Naples may be the home of pizza, but you’ll also find celebrated chefs serving up fabulous seafood, pasta and meaty ragus that taste so much more flavoursome when sourced from Naples’ own backyard.  

Naples is home to the acclaimed Real Teatro di San Carlo (Royal Theatre of Saint Charles) which more than lives up to its grand title. Located right next to the Royal Palace, it is the oldest continuously operating opera venue in the world.

Getting Around Naples

Naples is a relatively easy city to get around and explore on foot. Most of the major sights, including the San Carlo Theatre, are within the compact city centre, which is mostly pedestrianised. There is an excellent bus network and a local railway connecting the suburbs with Stazione di Napoli Centrale (Central Station). Metro Line 1 connects Central Station with Naples Historic District. Taxis are plentiful, but not cheap!

Naples Attractions

Teatro San Carlo (San Carlo Theatre)

This lavish theatre is a listed World Heritage Site and provides the ultimate experience for opera lovers. With glorious architecture and wonderful acoustics. Opened in 1737, it is older than the famous La Scala in Milan by several decades and is the oldest continuously active venue for public opera in the world. Look for the royal coat of arms above the stage proscenium, the six-level tiers of boxes surrounding the Royal Box and magnificent frescoed ceiling. Guided tours are available to see behind the scenes on weekends. It’s a must-see for opera lovers!

Location:  Piazza del Plebiscito adjoining the Royal Palace

Getting there on foot:  The theatre is a 37-minute walk from the Central Station.

Getting there by taxi:  The easiest way to reach the theatre is by taxi, although most opera tours include transport to and from the performance.

Getting there by Metro:  The nearest Metro station to Teatro San Carlo is Municipio, just 6 minutes’ walk from the theatre.

Naples Cathedral (Duomo di San Gennaro)

This 13th century Gothic cathedral stands in the northeast area of the historic district and is dedicated to Naples patron saint, San Gennaro. This vast Duomo contains wonderful artworks, statues and frescoes as well as the original 4th century Basilica Santa Restituta, the oldest church in Naples. Artist Domenichino was commissioned to paint the frescoes and had an armed guard to protect him from jealous peers. He died of suspected poisoning and the work was completed by Lanfranco.

Location:  Via Duomo 147, Spaccanapoli

Getting there on foot:  The cathedral is about 20 minutes’ walk from Central Station along Via Piazza Giuseppe Garibaldi and Via del Tribunali.

Getting there by Metro: The nearest metro station to the cathedral is Stazzione Napoli Piazza Cavour.

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Palazzo Reale (Royal Palace)

The splendid Royal Palace epitomizes the grand architecture that Naples is known for. Built in the 17th century, the palace has a huge double staircase leading to the lavish royal apartments which are crammed with artworks and treasures. Check out the Court Theatre, the Palatine Chapel and the National Library that are all part of the palace complex.

Location:  Piazza del Plebiscito

Getting there on foot:  The Royal Palace is 40 minutes walk south from Central Station along Via Toledo.

Getting there by bus:  The nearest bus station is Acton-Molosiglio which is served by buses 151, 154, 650, ALIB, C25 and N1.

Getting there by Metro:  The nearest metro station is Municipio, a 6-minute walk along Via Vittorio Emanuele III to the palace.

Orto Botanico (Botanical Gardens)

These wonderful walled gardens were designed by Joseph Bonaparte and Prince Joachim Murat and opened in 1810. Now part of the research facility of Naples University, the 30-acre gardens have over 10,000 plant species grouped by botanical family. Along with a Fern Garden and   there are several interesting structures including a 5,000m² greenhouse and a 17th century restored castle containing the Museum of Plaeobotany and Ethnobotany. Admission is free but it is recommended to make a reservation (+39 081 253 3937) and joining a guided tour.

Location:  Via Foria 223, Piazza Carlo III

Getting there on foot:  The gardens are a 20-minute walk from Central Station along Corso Giuseppe Garibaldi.

Getting there by bus:  Take bus 203 or 254 from Piazza Garibaldi to Foria-M. Tenore bus stop right outside the gardens.

 

Getting there by Metro:  The nearest Metro station is at Piazza Cavour (Line 2 heading to Pozzuoli). Then a 15-minute walk to the gardens along Via Fiore, or you can take the bus 201 or C47.

Certosa e Museo Nazionale di San Martino (National Museum St Martin)

Housed in a grand former building of the Certosa di San Martino Monastery, this national museum is crammed with Naples’ history, art, costumes, culture and traditions. See exhibits of world class artworks and inlaid marble features within the beautiful building and enjoy the unforgettable views. The museum has various collections including model ships and Italian curiosities.

Location:  Largo San Martino, Vomero

Getting there by car:  The museum is 4 miles (6km) from Central Station and can be reached by car along Via Salvator Rosa.

Getting there by Metro:  Take the Metro (Line F2 or L2) from Piazza Garibaldi to Stazione Napoli Montesano or Toledo.

Getting there by funicular: Take the Funicular Centrale, one of the longest in the world, which leaves from Via Toledo by Galleria Umberto, just north of Piazza del Plebiscito.

Castel Nuovo Museo Civico (Naples Castle Museum)

This bulky stronghold was built in 1279 to protect the flourishing port of Naples. It now houses the Civic Museum with its wonderful exhibits of paintings, silver, bronzes and other fine arts. dating back to the 15th century. The Gothic Capella Palatina has beautiful examples of 14th century frescoes.

Location:  Piazza Municipio, Quartieri Spagnoli near Teatro San Carlo

Getting there on foot:  The castle is 1.4 miles (2.3km) from Central Station and takes about 30 minutes to walk along Corso Umberto 1.

Getting there by tram:  The nearest tram stop is Colombo-Porto on Capolinea 1-4.

Getting there by Metro:  Take Metro L1 from Garibaldi to Castel Nuovo/Municipio. It takes about 18 minutes.

San Francesco di Paola Church

This religious temple dedicated to St Francis of Paolo has more than a passing resemblance to Rome’s Pantheon. The grand portico and columns provide a stately entrance to this neoclassical basilica which was built by Ferdinand I in the 19th century. Inside you will find a magnificent altarpiece with precious stones and gold detail which came from the former Church of the Santi Apostoli.

Location:  Piazza del Plebiscito, near Teatro San Carlo

Getting there on foot:  The basilica is 2 miles (3km) from Central Station and takes about 40 minutes to walk along Corso Umberto I.

Getting there by bus:  The nearest bus station  is Solitaria on route E6.

Getting there by Metro:  Take Metro L1 from Garibaldi to Castel Nuovo/Municipio. It takes about 18 minutes.

Underground Catacombs

A more unusual attraction, the Catacombe di San Gennaro is a network of underground passageways, tombs and arched chambers supported by columns. Created around 2,000 years ago, the catacombs feature ancient mosaics and early frescoes. It is believed that St Gennaro, patron saint of Naples, was buried here.

Location:  Via Capodimonte 16

Getting there on foot:  The catacombs are 2 miles (3.4km) from Central Station and takes 43 minutes to walk to them via Piazza Giuseppe Garibaldi.

Getting there by train:  The nearest train station is Piazza Cavour which is one mile (2.4km) from the catacombs.

Getting there by Metro:  The nearest Metro station is Materdei on Line L1.

Mount Vesuvius and Pompeii

Mount Vesuvius is the only active volcano in Europe, although it last erupted in 1944. A major eruption in 79AD buried the cities of Herculaneum, Pompeii and Stabiae under black ash and mud rather than flowing lava. The slopes are covered with grapes and olives that flourish in the rich volcanic soil. Tours include a visit to Pompeii where Roman artifacts were preserved beneath the rocks and rubble for centuries. See wonderful exhibits in the Antiquarium, browse around the frescoed Marcellum (market) and enjoy the best views of Vesuvius from the Forum.

Location:  Vesuvius 9 miles (14km) southeast of Naples and Pompeii 16 miles (26km) respectively

Getting there by train:  Take the train to Ercolano Scavi then use a local taxi to drive up Mt Vesuvius.

However, the best option is to book a guided tour of both sites with coach transport from Naples.

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