Day Trips from Napoli: Pompeii

It’s one of Italy’s most amazing attractions.  An entire Roman town, buried under ash and lava by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79AD then excavated so you can wander around.  If you get the chance to go, take it.  It’s just south of Naples and can be done as an easy day trip by local train.

What to see

Pompeii was one of the largest and most shining cities built during the roman era, as you can see how) the ruins are everywhere. Thanks to its large production and export of oil and wines, Pompeii became a very rich city and tourist destination for the Roman patricians. You never know what Pompeii would have become. In ’79 AD, Vesuvius, which no one knew was a volcano yet because it looked like a common mountain, destroyed the town with a violent eruption.

The Forum
Located in the archaeological site of Pompeii was the economic, political and religious city center. It was the place where all public debates and religious events were carried out, and it was the real heart of the city. At the beginning, it was a not a very large area, and there were few shops showing their merchandise. During the second century BC, people of Pompeii decided to give a more appropriate structure to the Forum on the basis of the task it held. The area was enlarged, some coverings were added for the shops, arcades were added to protect walking people from the rain, and public buildings were built along the sides of the square. The decoration of the Forum of Pompeii was completed with the replacement of the old tuff flooring with a more beautiful one made of travertine, the remains of which are still visible today. Once at the center of the square, the ruins of the Temple of Apollo attracts the eye. It is the most important ancient religious site of Pompeii. The statues of the goddess found close to the Temple of Apollo, were transferred to the Archaeological Museum of Naples.

The forum of Pompeii

The Lupanar
People of Pompeii, as good pagans, loved the pleasures of the flesh and didn’t have any problem showing off their passions. Many houses of Pompeii, had a secret room in which slaves of rich masters whored themselves. You could buy a little bit of company by paying from two to eight “assi” (currency of Pompeii at that time), an accessible amount for almost everyone, considering that the average price for a glass of wine was of one “asse”. The Lupanar (from Lupo meaning wolf, because “wolf” in Latin means “prostitute”) is the only building in Pompeii built specifically for this purpose. The brothel, located in the ruins of Pompeii, was distributed on two floors, each one reserved for a certain type of customer. The ground floor made by five bedrooms, a hallway and a bathroom, was for lower class customers. The first floor, however, was reserved for the upper class customers. Its own entrance and balcony roof gave access to the rooms, and it was also decorated with a refined taste. On the walls, you can still see the little pictures drawning voracious lovers in different erotic positions, ideal for lazy lovers looking for some inspiration. At the entrance of the Lupanare, as in most modern coffee shops, there was the chance to buy condoms to use with charming slaves of the brothel.

The Houses of Pleasure in Ancient Pompeii

The house of the Faun
The owner of the “House of the Faun”, inside the archaeological site of Pompeii, would definitely have been one of the most envied men in the city. The ruins of the house suggest a huge complex, with rooms, environments, and areas dedicated to different tasks. The property owner’s identity could not be traced back by remains. The structure has been  called the “House of the Faun” for the bronze statue of the dancing faun, who was at the center of one of the main halls. The “House of the Faun” was a sort of a modern residence, in which there was also a kind of mall. The structure, in fact, consists of two large connected areas, each one with a separated entrance, connected by a series of shops rented to traders. In addition to the shops, the “House of the Faun” also had a good number of rooms, but nobody knows if they were for private use, or rented. The structure was built with very modern construction techniques: some lead plates were placed under the walls plaster to protect the environment from moisture. In Rome, there is no trace of such majestic houses, while in the archeological site of Pompeii there are facilities such as “The Villa of the Mysteries,”, “The House of Pansa”, and “House of the Labyrinth”. They are all smaller than the “House of the Faun” but just as important in order to understand the richness and greatness of the Roman ruling class of Pompeii.

The Amphitheater
Located at the end of Via dell’Abbondanza, in the archeological site of Pompeii, is the oldest stone building of its kind that has ever been discovered. In fact, its construction dates back to 80 BC, while the first amphitheater of Rome, the one of Statilio Tauro, was built in 29 BC. One peculiarity of the amphitheater found in the excavations of Pompeii is that the structure had no basement under the floor of the arena, as the same construction of the imperial age used to have. At the top of the Amphitheatre you can see the large holes used to shore up the roof of the arena, in order to protect the spectators from the sun beating, wind, and rain. In this way, the shows could take place at any time of the year, without having to worry about the seasons. The terraces of the Amphitheatre of the archaeological excavations of Pompeii were divided into three orders, and one of these was reserved, with no doubt, for women. This timeless place has been the scene of one of the most exciting rock history concerts. In 1971, in fact, Pink Floyd recorded their “Live at Pompeii” concert without an audience, which became one of the most memorable moments in the music history.

Amphitheater – Exterior

The Villa of the Mysteries
This is an ancient roman house, located slightly outside the city and the archaeological site. It is not possible to verify the owner of this great building, also in this case, but some ruins suggest that the owners could have been some rich Roman patrician.  Some people argue that the villa belonged to Livia, the wife of Emperor Augustus, since there was a statue found in the ruins representing her. The Villa of the Mysteries takes its name from a series of paintings discovered in a room of the house, which some experts are still trying to determine the meaning. All schools of thought agree that the frescoes represent a young woman who is initiated into a cult. The dispute is about the kind of ritual that was initiated on the woman. Some argue that it is a Dionysian rite, while others simply believe that the woman is prepared for marriage. Whatever ritual to which the frescos of the Villa of the Mysteries in Pompeii refer , these images instil into visitors a strong subjection . The villa had many rooms, all decorated with great elegance and many of which were for dinners and social events. Even in the Villa of the Mysteries, bodies were found of people who were doing normal daily activities ,when they were blown over by the violence of the Vesuvius lava.

Villa of the Mysteries

The Cave Canem mosaic
Maybe you have seen it at the entrance of some villas in Italy or in the world? The Cave Canem (Beware of the Dog in Latin) is one of the world’s most famous mosaics, and it’s right here, in the House of the Tragic Poet. It has been recently restored in order to bring back its ancient splendour, after years of neglect, with a device that protects it from rain and wind, but does not prevent the view. The House of the Tragic Poet is a typical house with atrium and takes its name from a mosaic placed at the National Archaeological Museum of Naples.

The Cave Canem mosaic

The Garden of the Fugitives
It is the most heartbreaking testimony of the end of Pompeii, for sure, with the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD. During the excavations of 1961-62 and 1973-74, the bodies were found of 13 victims of the eruption, surprised by lava and lapillus while they were running away towards Porta Nocera. Men, women, and children, of one or more family groups, were asphyxiated by the gases and then slowly covered with ashes. The ones you see today in the Garden of the fugitives are perfect reproductions in plaster, which enable us to understand the last moments of life of these inhabitants of Pompeii.

Garden of the Fugitives

Getting to Pompeii

The most common ways of getting to Herculaneum from Napoli are:

  • Train: Visitors need to take a local train to get to Pompeii. The Circumvesuviana line goes from Napoli (Piazza Garibaldi station) to Pompeii (Pompei Scavi station). It takes 35 mins to get there and the prices 3.20€. No prior booking is necessary or possible, just turn up, buy a ticket at the Circumvesuviana ticket office, go through the automatic ticket gates onto the platform and hop on the next train.  The final destination of the Circumvesuviana train is Sorrento. Don’t confuse Pompei Scavi (Villa di Misteri) with the other Pompei station on another Circumvesuviana route, or Trenitalia’s mainline Pompeii station which serves the new town.
  • Car rental: Although this is a good option for families or groups of friends, you must keep in mind the price of petrol, parking and tolls. We would recommend this option only for those thinking of renting a car for additional days to visit other attractions nearby.

Schedule

The ruins are open every day of the year, usually 09:00-19:30 April-October, 09:00-17:00 November-March, but check opening times and entrance fee at www.pompeiisites.org or www.pompeionline.net.
Allow more time than you think you need.  You can easily spend all day there, there’s lots to see.

Price

Adults: 15€
EU Citizens (18 – 25): 9€
EU Citizens (less than 18) and (over 65): free entrance.

Next to the ticket office at the entrance, there is a free baggage check. Bags or backpacks larger than 30x30x15 cm cannot be brought into.

Should I visit Pompeii or Herculaneum?

The biggest difference between Pompeii and Herculaneum is size: the ruins of Pompeii cover about 44 square hectaures, while Herculaneum covers just 4.

Pompeii was an important city and trade center, while Herculaneum was a small resort town without the large public buildings (forum, amphitheater, theaters, gym) found in Pompeii.

However, Herculaneum is in a much better state of preservation due to the deep layer of ash and dust that covered the site, filling the buildings without damaging them. Pompeii was heavily battered by falling rocks and hot air that knocked down upper floors of buildings and incinerated wood, both of which are still intact at Herculaneum.

All things considered, if you only have time to see one site, choose Pompeii. Herculaneum is a good alternative if you don’t want to do too much walking or if the temperatures are particularly scorching, as it has more shade than Pompeii.

We do not recommend visiting Pompeii and Herculaneum in one day, as it is simply too tiring.

Vesuvius, the supervolcano. The archaeological ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum tour.

About two thousand years ago, an eruption of the Naples volcano put an end to four Roman cities, including the famous Pompeii. The intense emotion that you feel when visiting the area comes from the respect for the immense force of nature, but also from the intimate contact with the civilization of that time.

Even though Naples is a volcanic city – not just in geological terms, but also in terms of its character – you never have to worry too much when visiting its volcano. If Vesuvius were to start erupting – as it has done many times since that year 79 in which it destroyed and buried the Roman cities of Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Stabia – you could get to safety in time, because this is perhaps the volcano under closest surveillance in the world. There are warning plans, and plans for the potential evacuation of the local populations. But you still have the thrilling feeling at walking on the back of a sort of gigantic live animal, which today is asleep but alive, in a relationship with the omnipotence of nature, which is much greater than us, and which is not easy to describe in words.

Vesuvius

Climbing Vesuvius is not a real adventure. In fact, it’s not even a real climb, because you can get there by bus – in just half an hour from Pompeii, if it’s from the Roman city that your visit to the area begins – and simply walk uphill to the summit. The spectacle of the crater, huge and a little threatening, even now that it is a little quiet, will already be in itself a good reason to convince you, but the real wonder is another one: the panoramic view of theGulf of Naples and of the city on the sea. It’s like dominating the gulf from a low-altitude airplane or a helicopter. Priceless.

A walk – with a view on the gulf – on the top of the volcano, in the heart of the Vesuvius National Park.

The Pompeii ruins’ area in which you find yourself is part of the Vesuvius National Park, which was established about twenty years ago; you have to take into account the cost of an entrance ticket, but on the other hand you have the certainty of finding yourself in a well-kept landscape.

It is marked very clearly where it is best not to venture, and the main path leading to the crater (there are other paths in the park, not all of which are that easy to walk) is comfortable and its boundaries are clearly indicated. Speaking of nature, do you recognize the broom that are at odds with the harsh landscape and give signs of life? Their flowering period – sudden spots of a particular yellow, sharp on the dry ground – is spring-summer.

View of Roman antiquities at Pompeii site. In the background: Vesuvius.

Ruins of Pompeii

Pompeii is today one of the largest excavation sites open to the public in the world, recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. As for its importance, then, it is absolutely unique in having preserved an entire Roman city in its everyday life, which was suddenly interrupted and has remained embalmed in a giant model on an urban scale.
If you want to be methodical, you can start your visit from the museum, immediately becoming moved by the human figures of the inhabitants surprised by the eruption. They look like real people, but they are simply the casts – obtained by archaeologists pouring plaster into certain cavities where the presence of human bones was guessed – of people trapped by the ash rain that erupted from Vesuvius. Over the centuries the ash layer has solidified, the bodies have dissolved, but the cavity formed by their shapes has remained. It seems as if one is able to talk with people from two thousand years ago, and it’s indescribable.

Casts of a group of Pompeian victims of the 79 AD eruption.

Rather than by human solidarity, you are impressed by the historical-artistic side when you visit the homes of ancient Pompeii, such as the House of the Faun, that of the Vettii or that of the Golden Cupids, which take their names from the dominant subjects of their extraordinary frescoes or from their owners. Even before arriving at the houses, you may be walking across the public spaces of the ancient city: the Basilica where justice was served, the Forum where people gathered, the temples where the gods were worshiped and even the Lupanar – which in today’s language we would call the brothel – with its X-rated paintings.

What is impressive everywhere are the three dimensions: forget about the archaeological excavations found elsewhere in Europe, with their remains of reconstructed walls that are maximum one meter high. In Pompeii, the houses are still as tall as in the year 79. Unique is an understatement.

1: Interior of a preserved Roman domus in Pompeii, with rich mosaics on the floor
2: Frescoed wall inside a Pompeii domus

In the majestic stillness of the amphitheater – with the grass in the meadow that now colonizes the steps from where the ancient Pompeians watched the armed fights of gladiators – you could think of the Pink Floyd concertLive at Pompeii. But you cannot remember being there in person, because that show had no audience… It was only a private recording. The leader of the group, David Gilmour, came back here a few years ago to hold a real concert, the only show in the Pompeii amphitheater in the last nineteen centuries. More than rock memories, in any case, it is significant that this one in Pompeii seems to have been the most ancient permanent amphitheater ever built in the Roman age, so important and rich was the city.

View from above of the archaeological excavations of Herculaneum.

Ruins of Herculaneum

Still under the Vesuvius, but about twenty kilometers to the west and much closer to Naples, you can find the Roman excavations of Herculaneum, less extensive but equally impressive, and as integrated into modern-day Ercolano. There would still be plenty to dig around, if in the area of archaeological interest there were not the houses of today’s inhabitants, obviously perfectly legitimately. Here the quality of the three-dimensional perception is even more spectacular than in Pompeii: on the paved roads you can walk like on any other non-archaeological road, the houses of two thousand years ago – particularly notable are the Houses of the Hotel, of the Mosaic Atrium and the Deer – seem to have been built yesterday, and sculptures and frescoes come naturally to greet you, in vivid shapes and colors. Pinch yourself to wake up: you’re not dreaming, and it’s not a Disneyland reconstruction. It’s all true.

Frescoed figures from the excavations of ancient Stabia.

Ruins of Stabia

You can also visit what remains of Stabiae, which, vice versa, is farther south from Pompeii and which has had a different story. The settlement was repopulated not long after the eruption of the year 79, and today the excavation area is isolated in the middle of modern Castellamare di Stabia. Five residences of the ancient Roman city have resurfaced: Villa Arianna and Villa San MarcoVilla Petraro and Villa Carmiano, underground, and the so-called “Second Complex”. Villa San Marco was built in the early imperial era and remodeled in the Claudian age: access, today from the spa area, leads to the three rooms of the “calidarium,” “tepidarium,” and “frigidarium,” from which you go to the porticoed garden with pool. Here it is as if the context was lacking, but the houses, the sophisticated walls, the mosaic floors, and above all the ancient Roman frescoes are of the same quality as those of Pompeii and Ercolano. If you have a taste for detail rather than the whole, then Stabia too is not to be missed.

Visit the magnificent Phlegraean Fields

The gigantic cone of Vesuvius dominates the whole area of Naples, but it is certainly not the only volcanic presence around the city. By public transport you can reach the Phlegraean Fields from Naples, an area just west of the regional capital toward Pozzuoli and the islands of Procida and Ischia, where volcanic activities appear smaller in size, and yet are just as evident, and even more spectacular.

The Vesuvius no longer has – as it had until the eruption of 1944 – a clearly visible plume of continuous smoke toward the sky. Here, however, from the crater of the Solfatara a practically continuous fumarole of sulfur dioxide and boiling mud spouts are still ejected. By the by, it is here that the volcanic shots of the Live at Pompeii video were shot.

View of the fumaroles of the Solfatara di Pozzuoli.

The fumaroles are not geysers, as you would think, but they are very close to them. Respect the warnings and do not enter the fenced areas: sulfur fumes, even if they are not poisonous, can make you dizzy if you get too close. The Solfatara is in fact in a quiescent state, but is still quite active, and is only one of the forty volcanoes that make up the Phlegraean Fields.
In the big, extinct crater of the Astroni, which is now a natural oasis managed by the World Wildlife Fund, you can take guided tours or quiet walks in the greenery around small lakes, instead of around sulfur fumes, and in the area there are also natural thermal springs, like those in Agnano. The famous spas on the island of Ischia also belongs to the volcanic system of the Phlegraean Fields.
The movement of the ground below you is too slow for a human being to be aware of it, but the measurements show a imperceptible continuous up and down of the Phlegraean Fields with respect to sea level. The scientific word for this phenomenon is bradyseism, and this too is a volcanic phenomenon. The temple of Serapis in Pozzuoli, which is more or less two thousand years old, and which is obviously lower than the city around it, is an obvious historical example.

Ruins of Baia

As if to confirm the parallel lives between volcanic activities and ancient civilizations, the archaeological remains of the Roman Baiae, south of Pozzuoli, are part of the Phlegraean Fields. Find the so-called temples of Diana and Venus in today’s village, next to the small port on the Gulf of Naples, and it is not too surprising to find that they were actually spa buildings, so important that only the dome of the Roman Pantheon was larger than these.
Nor does it surprise you – since we are in the area of bradyseism – to learn that the ancient Baia is today submerged, protected as a marine park at a depth of five to seven meters. You can touch it only if you are armed with scuba gear, and go to visit villas and nymphaeum of twenty centuries ago under the guidance of local divers. Another less adventurous choice could be an excursion on a boat with a transparent bottom: it is like looking at the Roman city from a window on the water.

Day Trips from Napoli: Herculaneum

The town of Herculaneum suffered the same fate as Pompeii. The town was buried under Mount Vesuvius’s volcanic ashes and mud in 79 AD.

Hit before Pompeii, many inhabitants didn’t have time to escape and were engulfed in layers of debris, ashes and mud, dying instantly to be preserved for centuries.

What to see

At the foot of Mount Vesuvius, the city was the volcano’s first victim, and therefore the first wall of lava, ashes, debris and gases covered Herculaneum completely a little after midnight on 25 August. The previous day, it had been plunged in a cloud of debris leaving it without sunlight.

A UNESCO world heritage site, Herculaneum is better preserved than Pompeii. The city’s houses, baths, taverns, temples and figures are undamaged; therefore, visitors will get a real sense of the splendour of this Roman city.

Wealthier than its neighbouring Pompeii, the town is full of beautiful buildings. The different floors of most of the buildings are still intact and it is possible to see the magnificent frescoes and mosaics covering the walls of palaces, public buildings and mansions.

On the far side of the city are the most luxurious villas overlooking the sea, notably the Villa dei Papiri, which was the luxurious retreat of Julius Caesar’s father-in-law.

In Herculaneum, archaeologists have also found the first Roman preserved skeletons from the first century, since prior to this period Romans would cremate the dead. The skeletons are on display in one of the city’s houses.

Beautifully conserved

The town of Herculaneum has been magically conserved all these years. Objects like beds, and doors managed to remain under the layers of ash and mud without decaying.

Although it isn’t as well-known or as large as Pompeii, Herculaneum’s ruins are extremely impressive and gripping. Definitely worth visiting!

Today, the town of Ercolano lies extremely close to the ruins of Herculaneum, creating an interesting contrast.

Getting to Herculaneum

The most common ways of getting to Herculaneum from Napoli are:

  • Train: Visitors need to take a local train to get to Herculaneum. The Circumvesuviana line goes from Napoli (Piazza Garibaldi station) to Herculaneum (Ercolano Scavi station). It takes 20 mins to get there and the prices 2.20€.
  • Car rental: Although this is a good option for families or groups of friends, you must keep in mind the price of petrol, parking and tolls. We would recommend this option only for those thinking of renting a car for additional days to visit other attractions nearby.

Schedule

1 November – 31 March: Every day from 8:30am – 5pm
1 April – 31 October: Every day 8:30am – 7:30pm

Price

Adults: 13€
EU Citizens (18 – 25): 2€
EU Citizens (less than 18) and (over 65): free entrance

More info on official web site http://ercolano.beniculturali.it/

The 6 most beautiful churches in Naples.

The tour of the churches of Naples would be endless! We have chosen 6, certainly among the most beautiful. Are you ready? Go!

Chiesa del Gesù Nuovo
The church is the final resting place of much-loved local saint Giuseppe Moscati (1880–1927), a doctor who served the city’s poor. Adjacent to the right transept, the Sale di San Giuseppe Moscati (Rooms of St Joseph Moscati) include a recreation of the great man’s study, complete with the armchair in which he died. Scan the walls for ex-voti, gifts offered by the faithful for miracles purportedly received. The church itself received a miracle of sorts on 4 August 1943, when a bomb dropped on the site failed to explode. Its shell is aptly displayed beside the ex-voti. The church flanks the northern side of beautiful Piazza del Gesù Nuovo, a favourite late-night hang-out for students and lefties. At its centre soars Giuseppe Genuino’s lavish Guglia dell’Immacolata, an obelisk built between 1747 and 1750. On 8 December, the Feast of the Immacolata, a firefighter scrambles up to the top to place a wreath on the statue of the Virgin Mary.

Monastero di Santa Chiara
Vast, Gothic and cleverly deceptive, the mighty Basilica di Santa Chiara stands at the heart of this tranquil monastery complex. The church was severely damaged in WWII: what you see today is a 20th-century recreation of Gagliardo Primario’s 14th-century original. Adjoining it are the basilica’s cloisters, adorned with brightly coloured 17th-century majolica tiles and frescoes.

Chiesa di San Giovanni a Carbonara
Sumptuous sculpture and Technicolor frescoes makes this Gothic church worth a detour. Andrea de Firenze, Tuscan sculptors and northern-Italian artists collaborated on the Gothic-Renaissance mausoleum of King Ladislas, soaring 18m behind the main altar. Behind it, the circular Cappella Caracciolo del Sole uplifts with its vivid 15th-century frescoes and Leonardo da Besozzo’s tomb for Giovanni Caracciolo, the ambitious lover of King Ladislas’ sister Queen Joan II of Naples.

Basilica di San Lorenzo Maggiore
The basilica at this richly layered religious complex is deemed one of Naples’ finest medieval buildings. Aside from Ferdinando Sanfelice’s facade, the Cappella al Rosario and the Cappellone di Sant’Antonio, its baroque makeover was stripped away last century to reveal its austere, Gothic elegance. Beneath the basilica is a sprawl of extraordinary Graeco-Roman ruins, accessible on a one-hour guided tour. To better understand the ruins, start your explorations in the Museo dell’Opera di San Lorenzo Maggiore, which includes a model of the area as it appeared in ancient times. The ruins themselves will see you walking past ancient bakeries, wineries, laundries and barrel-vaulted rooms that once formed part of the city’s two-storey macellum (market). Above them, the basilica itself was commenced in 1270 by French architects, who built the apse. Local architects took over the following century, recycling ancient columns in the nave. Catherine of Austria, who died in 1323, is buried here in a beautiful mosaiced tomb. Legend has it that this was where Boccaccio first fell for Mary of Anjou, the inspiration for his character Fiammetta, while the poet Petrarch called the adjoining convent home in 1345.

Chiesa di Sant’Anna dei Lombardi
This magnificent church is testament to the close links that once existed between the Neapolitan Aragonese and the Florentine Medici dynasty. One particular highlight is Guido Mazzoni’s spectacular Pietà. Dating from 1492, the terracotta ensemble is made up of eight life-size terracotta figures surrounding the lifeless body of Christ. Originally the figures were painted, but even without colour they still make quite an impression. Also impressive is baroque painter Francesco Solimena’s arresting depiction of St Christopher. The sacristy is a work of art in itself. The walls are graced with gloriously inlaid wood panels by Giovanni da Verona, while the ceiling bursts with 16th-century frescoes by Giorgio Vasari depicting the Allegories and Symbols of Faith.

Duomo di Napoli
Whether you go for Giovanni Lanfranco’s fresco in the Cappella di San Gennaro (Chapel of St Janarius), the 4th-century mosaics in the baptistry, or the thrice-annual miracle of San Gennaro, do not miss Naples’ cathedral. Kick-started by Charles I of Anjou in 1272 and consecrated in 1315, it was largely destroyed in a 1456 earthquake. It has had copious nips and tucks over the subsequent centuries.
Among these is the gleaming neo-Gothic facade, only completed in 1905. Step inside and you’ll immediately notice the central nave’s gilded coffered ceiling, studded with late-mannerist art. The high sections of the nave and the transept are the work of baroque overachiever Luca Giordano.
Off the right side of the nave, the Cappella di San Gennaro (also known as the Chapel of the Treasury) was designed by Theatine priest and architect Francesco Grimaldi, and completed in 1646. The most sought-after artists of the period worked on the chapel, creating one of Naples’ greatest baroque legacies. Highlights here include Jusepe de Ribera’s gripping canvas St Gennaro Escaping the Furnace Unscathed and Giovanni Lanfranco’s dizzying dome fresco. Hidden away in a strongbox behind the altar is a 14th-century silver bust in which sit the skull of San Gennaro and the two phials that hold his miraculously liquefying blood.
The next chapel eastwards contains an urn with the saint’s bones and a cupboard full of femurs, tibias and fibulas. Below the high altar is the Cappella Carafa, a Renaissance chapel built to house yet more of the saint’s remains.
Off the left aisle lies the 4th-century Basilica di Santa Restituta, the subject of an almost complete makeover after the earthquake of 1688. From it you can access the Battistero di San Giovanni in Fonte. Western Europe’s oldest baptistry, it’s encrusted with fragments of glittering 4th-century mosaics.
The Duomo’s subterranean archaeological zone, which includes fascinating remains of Greek and Roman buildings and roads, remains closed indefinitely.

Naples Travel Tip: The Campania ArteCard

Like a lot of cities and travel destinations, it’s possible to purchase a discount card in Naples that enables you to have free/discounted access to various historical and cultural sites around the city. Sometimes these things are worth it, sometimes they are not.

In Naples however, I would strongly advise picking up a Campania ArteCard swiftly after arriving in the city. It can be purchased at the airport, and at the ticket office of various tourist sites (at the archaeological museum, at Pompeii, etc).

There are variations of the Campania Artecard available and the most suitable will depend on your personal interests and your intended Naples itinerary.

The cards allow free access to some sites, free use of public transportation, and reduced entry at additional sites. Prices start from €12 for those under 25, and €21 for those over 25. Either way, it will save you a fair bit.

Cross Piazza del Plebiscito with your eyes closed.

The purpose of this game is managing to go between the equestrian statues in the center of the square, sculpted by Antonio Canova and depicting Charles III of Bourbon and Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies.

Rules of the game: close your eyes or wear a blindfold. Procedure: starting from the gate of Palazzo Reale, walk straight for about 170 meters. Do not be surprised if, on opening your eyes, you realize not only that you have not managed to cross the space between the two statues, but that you are somewhere else entirely.

According to legend, it is all Queen Margherita’s fault: she is said to have granted a pardon to the prisoners of the Kingdom who passed this test, however, a curse launched by the Queen herself prevented the competitors from being successful.
As a matter of fact, the particular conformation of the square, with its surface of not perfectly linear cobblestones, hinders walking in a straight line, making this a very difficult thing to do in Naples with kids, especially during the night.

5 most romantic places in Naples

The atmosphere, the landscapes, the dinner at the restaurants on the promenade, Naples is certainly one of the most romantic cities in the world. So let’s see the 5 most romantic places where you can comfortably spend your special moments with your partner, or give your first neapolitan kiss.

Gaiola and Virgilian Park

Gaiola, magical and mysterious. A fabulous natural scenery where a small island rises. In the past it was called “Euplea”, protector of safe navigation, and safe haven.
The origins of Gaiola are really ancient: they date back to Roman times, when it was inhabited by Publio Pollione il Vecchio. From the impressive free beach, along some stairs, you can enter into the protected marine area of the Submarine Park of Gaiola, where from the sand you pass to a less soft and rocky scenery.                                The Virgilian Park was built under the name of Park of Victory or of Beauty. It was called Remembrances Park to commemorate the fallen of the Great War, and later Virgilian Park, in honor of the poet and legendary protector and wizard of Naples, Virgil. It extends over an area of about 92,000 m², 150 meters above sea level, on the promontory of Posillipo hill. You can access from 2 entrances: the main entrance, where you will find a newly built fountain, and from Via Tito Lucrezio Caro. The Virgilian park is characterized by a system of terraces overlooking the Gulf of Naples. You can enjoy different views: the islands of Nisida, Procida, Ischia and Capri, Vesuvius coast, Sorrento Peninsula, Trentaremi Bay with its archaeological site and the historic center of Naples.

Sant’Antonio Terrace

You can get here with the funicular of Mergellina. Just take the first stop “Sant Antonio”, in Via Orazio. Keep walking until Via Minucio Felice. Keep going on this street and prepare yourselves for the inimitable view waiting for you on the terrace, in front of the Church of Sant’Antonio a Posillipo. The ideal place fot taking some pictues, and of course for kisses.

San Martino

San Martino is another amazing place where you can have a complete view from the top of the city. You can arrive here with the Montesanto funicular. Just five minutes by walking and you will have in front of you the Belvedere. San Martino is a little square with a church and a castle, with around some shops, bar and pubs where you can have an aperitif. If you want an even better view, there are 2 possible options… but you’ll have to pay a ticket (unless it’s the first Sunday of the month). You can go up Castel Sant’Elmo or you can venture into the gardens of the Certosa of San Martino.  Anyway, from San Martino you can go down through the Pedamentina, an amazing stairway that takes you directly to the Historical Center.

Lungomare

Just  beyond Piazza del Plebiscito, a couple of minutes by walking, you will find the seaside. A quiet walk, without cars, perfect for romantic moments, with lots of restaurants and clubs.
The best part is just in the middle, with the Castel dell’Ovo. The castle is free entry, and it gives you, from the top, a wonderful look of the city, from the seaside. Outside the castle there is the Borgo Marinari, an ancient port with restaurants and romantic spots. If you want to walk a little bit more you have the Villa Comunale, a seafront park where you can rent rickshaws or bicycles to enjoy a classic Neapolitan sunny day.

The Lover Street

Last but not least, there is a little secret road in Via Toledo, in Via Santa Maria delle Grazie, known as La via degli innamorati (Lover Street). Is a narrow street, full of hearts and writes, that cuts all the old part of the city. It’s usual for the couples stop in front to take a selphie photo or cross it hand by hand.

Discovering the Blue Vase of Pompeii

Discovered at Pompeii on December 29, 1837, in the presence of King Ferdinand II, the Blue Vase is regarded by many to be the Naples National Archaeological Museum‘s most prized possession.

The Blue Vase is said to have been found in the House of the Mosaic Columns during a Royal inspection. Some have suggested it was planted to impress the noble visitors. Apparently, it was not uncommon for excavators to inhume their finds and wait for an opportune time to unearth the treasure in order to keep their patrons excited and the funds coming in.

Extremely fragile, Imperial Roman cameo glass vases are terrifically rare; only a handful survive. Perhaps the most famous specimen is the so-called Portland Vase in the British Museum.

They were made by fusing different colored sheets of glass together in a furnace. After cooling, the top layer was etched away, creating designs that stand out from the contrasting background. As with the Blue Vase, the most common color combination was the use of an opaque white over a translucent cobalt blue.

Beneath each handle of the Blue Vase the iconography depicts a group of pudgy putti gaily harvesting grapes for winemaking and playing musical instruments. Separating the two scenes are highly elaborate grape vines bearing clusters of fruit and some birds. The vines appear to be springing like antlers from the head of Silenus, the trusty companion of Dionysus, the god of wine. Circling the vessel’s base are flora and fauna from the Mediterranean. Fittingly, the glass vessel is shaped like a wine amphora.

Undoubtably the work of master craftsmen, this priceless masterpiece was truly a wonder to behold.

National Archaeological Museum is away only a few minutes walk from our apartment!

True love is forever.

Perhaps not everyone knows that the Catacombs of San Gaudioso guard a distant love.

The fresco of the lovers is hidden in the belly of the city since 1600 and every day reminds us of the beauty and power of the longest-lived sentiment of all.

Happy Valentine’s Day and a good holiday of lovers ❤