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.

In the first week of March, all Italy’s state museums are free

Fancy a few hours in the National Archaeological Museum, a stroll round the Caserta palace or catching the view from the Certosa di San Martino? Next week you can visit them all for free.

Scores of state-owned attractions across Italy will waive their entry fees from March 5-10th as part of an initiative to make the country’s most precious heritage available for free on 20 days each year.

Culture Minister Alberto Bonisoli has declared next Tuesday to Sunday “Museum Week”, meaning that locals and tourists alike have six days to visit some of Italy’s most famous museums, galleries and archaeological sites without paying a cent.

Some of the best-known attractions participating include the Museo e Real bosco di Capodimonte and Palazzo Reale, the ruins of Herculaneum – as well as its treasures in Naples’ Archeological Museum – the Complesso dei Girolamini and all the various villas of the ruins of Pompeii. Find a full list here.

The initiative replaces Italy’s “free museum Sundays”, the scheme that saw museums open for free every first Sunday of the month. Under a new decree that takes effect this week, Italian state museums will instead offer six free Sundays between October and March, eight free days of their choice and six during Museum Week.

Culture Minister Alberto Bonisoli says the new system should help reduce the long queues and oppressive crowds that typically gather at Italy’s most popular attractions every first Sunday of the month. Sites might choose to offer free entry on a weekday afternoon instead of at the weekend, for instance, to help them manage visitor numbers.

In addition, people aged 18-25 will be able to visit state-owned attractions at any time they choose for the reduced price of just €2.

Bonisoli has said that he wants to add even more free days in future, hinting that there could be two Museum Weeks a year from 2020.

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!

The 13 best things to do in Naples

Naples is one of Europe’s largest and oldest cities. It’s a chaotic, surprising and intense place stuffed with character; modern life and history clash on every street. More so than any spot in Italy, your mantra whilst there will be eat, pray, pizza (and football), sleep, repeat. With sunny islands, ancient history, beaches and a volcano, there’s enough here to fill an entire summer break—especially as you’re likely to lose track of time while wandering through ramshackle alleyways stuffed with the world’s best pizza.

Best things to do in Naples

Visit Pompeii

What is it? You know about Pompeii already, of course, but it’s genuinely overwhelming
in real life. Its perfectly preserved streets manage to remain eerie despite rivalling the footfall of Oxford Circus on a Saturday.
Why go? Always good to have a reminder that humans are ultimately at the mercy of Mother Nature. Few things say carpe diem like the plaster cast of a corpse who was looting a jewellery shop.

Explore Herculaneum

What is it? Pompeii may have got all the glory but nearby settlement Herculaneum also got completely engulfed by lava, and revealed even better-preserved scenes of everyday Roman life. A row of 12 boathouses, for instance, which were excavated in the 1990s, turned out to be the final hiding place of more than 300 people.
Why go? Though still popular with visitors, you get a bit of personal space at Herculaneum. All the better for getting to grips with the astonishingly old suburbia you’re exploring.

Pay respects to the pizza gods at Sorbillo

What is it? One of the few things that all Neapolitans can agree on is that they make the best pizza. You can get the signature chewy, crispy dough all over town but you have to start somewhere, and that should probably be La Pizzeria Sorbillo.
Why go? Gino Sorbillo’s dad was one of 21 siblings, all of whom were pizzaiolo. His dough is totally trad but – very unusually for Italy – he messes with convention on the toppings.

Drink like the locals in Piazza Bellini

What is it? Like a meeting post for the young and thirsty of Naples, this bar-lined square bubbles over with students, locals and tourists come aperitivo time (and beyond). There are also some ancient ruins left casually unprotected in its centre.
Why go? The walls at Intra Moenia are covered with rows and rows of vintage postcards and curios. Buy one to send home then claim a table outside to sit back and sip while the crowds gather.

Drink coffee in Mexico

What is it? Popular with everyone from local workmen to holidaying hipsters, Caffè Mexico in Piazza Dante is the best coffee bar in town. Stop in for an espresso, which in Naples generally comes sweetened unless you demand otherwise.
Why go? Its sunny yellow awning and bright orange espresso machine will perk you up as much as the caffeine does.

Go mad for the Museo d’Arte Contemporanea (MADRE)

What is it? A world-class museum of modern art that’s named after the gothic fourteenth-century church that sits within its walls. Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Donnaregina’s beautiful main building holds site-specific works by Jeff Koons, Anish Kapoor and many other superstars of the visual arts.
Why go? You might, at some point, want to gaze appreciatively at something that’s not older than Italy itself.

Feast on fish at Mimì alla Ferrovia

What is it? It’s not just pizza that Neapolitans nail. This seaside city is awash with fantastic seafood, and Mimì alla Ferrovia is a great place to eat a load of it. As well as traditional food done right this local favourite also boasts excellent house wine and staff who could moonlight as Naples tour guides.
Why go? One of the restaurant’s many famous customers was legendary tenor (and food enthusiast), Luciano Pavarotti.

Go deeper underground at the Fontanelle cemetery

What is it? Beneath the heat and bustle of Naples’ streets is an old quarry that became a burial site in the seventeenth century when a plague took out 250,000 of the city’s residents. Though the Fontanelle cemetery’s piles of bones are undeniably unnerving, the local tradition of caring for a lost soul’s skull lends the place a very spiritual feel.
Why go? Watch for the odd Italian nonna on her way to tend to her designated skeleton in the hope of releasing its soul to heaven in return for a wish.

Get a breath of sea air on the Lungomare

What is it? A 2.5km strip of pedestrianised road that runs along the seafront, providing the perfect stress-free route for a stroll. Stop for lemon granita at the beach kiosks, claim a rock to sunbathe on or stop for a sundowner.
Why go? The views of Mount Vesuvius, Capri and Naples itself are spectacular. Add in a colourful sunset and it could be a Studio Ghibli set.

Experience Catholic grandeur at Gesù Nuovo

What is it? Over in the west of the city a spacious piazza is home to the almost brutalist-looking facade of a church called Gesù Nuovo. Its ridiculously opulent interiors will have you wondering whether it wasn’t only Lawrence Llewellyn-Bowen’s hair that was Jesus-esque.
Why go? Learn more about Dr Giuseppe Moscati, who dedicated his career in the early nineteenth-century to healing the poor. Thanks to a miracle or two he was made a saint in 1987.

Watch a match at the San Paolo Stadium

What is it? The only belief system to rival that of the church in this town is football, and its much-loved poster boy is Diego Armando Maradona. Go to San Paolo Stadium to watch SSC Napoli and you’ll likely be rewarded with a world-class match; they play in Italy’s top league, Serie A. 
Why go? When surrounded by 60,000 fans all chanting for a common goal you’re guaranteed goosebumps. Remember to make the pilgrimage to Bar Nilo afterwards to visit the reliquary containing a strand of Maradona’s hair.

Take the funicular to Castel Sant’Elmo

What is it? Though you’re not likely to need the metro during your visit, it’s worth seeking out the funicular lines that shunt residents up to the hilly suburbs. Their colourful carriages are used by 10 million passengers per year.
Why go? For the panoramic views from the top. Take the line from Montesanto to Morghen then walk to the medieval Castel Sant’Elmo. The tangle of Naples city centre’s buildings is framed by the sea on one side and Vesuvius on the other.

Take a boat to Procida

What is it? Of the Bay of Naples’ three islands, it’s Capri that is most ridiculously beautiful, but that also means it’s constantly smothered in tourists. Ischia offers thermal spas, but it is Procida’s charming colourful houses and cobbled streets that make it the off-the-radar offshore choice.
Why go?  Procida seems to want to keep its secret to itself, although it’s popular with napoletani looking for a summer escape from the steaming, chaotic city. .