Castel dell' Ovo offers panoramic views. Mount Vesuvius at the background.

Castel dell' Ovo offers panoramic views. Mount Vesuvius at the background.

In the 19th century a small fishing village called Borgo Marinaro, which is still extant, developed around the castle's eastern wall. 

After a long period of decay, the site got its current appearance during an extensive renovation project started in 1975.  

It is now known for its marina, fish restaurants and bars.

Borgo Marinero.

Borgo Marinero.

👍 Continue on Via Nazario Sauro and enjoy the stanning views of Vesuvius and the Gulf of Napoli.  When you reach Statue d'Umberto I turn sharply left and after a couple of blocks you are in Via Santa Lucia

The Statue d'Umberto I on Via Nazario Sauro.

The Statue d'Umberto I on Via Nazario Sauro.

Rotonda di Via Nazario Sauro in front of the Statue d'Umberto I.

Rotonda di Via Nazario Sauro in front of the Statue d'Umberto I.

👍 Turn on the left and on a small alley, perpendicular to Via Santa Lucia (Via Vincenzo de Giovanni di Santa Severina) and opposite Conad City supermarket, you see a small trattoria called “A’ Tiella e Patrizia e Ninona”.  If it is to have only one full lunch in Napoli, this is the place.  A genius traditional Sicilian trattoria with excellent food at low prices.  Choose the fixed price Menu and for 15€ you have primo, secondo and coffee. The restaurant is really tiny, no more than 25 seats inside. Locals come here during their lunch break and families enjoy their dinner in an atmosphere where the room with tables and the kitchen are practically all one not by choice, but out of necessity. The only drawback, is the bad ventilation in the restaurant and expect you to smell like fried squid afterwards.  When the weather is good try to get one of the 5-6 tables they have on a patio by the street, as we did during our visit.  Staff is sufficiently courteous and friendly.  We promised to come back, but alas we did not have time.  Next time we are in Napoli for sure.

Our Lunch at the patio of “A’ Tiella e Patrizia e Ninona”.

Our Lunch at the patio of “A’ Tiella e Patrizia e Ninona”.

“A’ Tiella e patrizia e Ninona”. Gnocchi alla sorrentina (middle), spaghetti carbonara and italian salsiccia with fried zucchini (right).

“A’ Tiella e patrizia e Ninona”. Gnocchi alla sorrentina (middle), spaghetti carbonara and italian salsiccia with fried zucchini (right).

👍 Continue on via Santa Lucia towards the east and the Giardini del Molosiglio.  On your right hand you’ll see the Basilica of Santa Lucia a Mare.

The church is so called because it was once a few steps from the beach. The legent says that it was founded by a nephew of the emperor Constantine. It belonged to the Basilian monks (monks who follow the rule of Saint Basil the Great, bishop of Caesarea) who had a convent on the nearby islet of Megaride, where today is Castel dell' Ovo and later the church passed to the nuns of Santa Patrizia, a female branch of the same order. It was largely restored and modified in 1588 by the will of the abbess Eusebia Minadoa.

In 1845, the reorganization of the urban area and the landfills caused the burial of the original structure, on which the present temple was built. The new church bombed in 1943 during the Second World War and rebuilt soon after.

Saint Lucia is the protector of the eyes, of the blind, eye doctors, electricians and masons.

There is also a common popular exclamation in Italy, "Oh Santa Lucia!" when you have been long looking for something which is actually under your nose and you finally find it.

So, it is not much of a surprise that in 1957 the church was visited by a famous pilgrim: Totò, afflicted by a serious visual disturbance that prevented him from working; after a few months of treatment, his eyes improved so much that he allowed the actor to go back to acting in front of the camera.  

👍 Exit Via Santa Lucia and turn left on Via Cesario Console towards Piazza del Plebiscito. There is a green space (park) along via Cesario Console, at the end of which stands the Statua di Augusto looking towards the Gulf of Napoli.  As this little park is elevated, one has great views to the marina, the Castel Nuovo and the port (Porto di Napoli) below.  Further away, at the background, stands the impressive mount Vesuvius. 

Just beneath the Cesario Console park stand the Molosiglio Gardens.

Cesario Console park above the road (left). Statua di Augusto(middle). The Palazzo Reale and Castel Nuovo (top right) and Palazzo Reale and Molosiglio Gardens (bottom right).

Cesario Console park above the road (left). Statua di Augusto(middle). The Palazzo Reale and Castel Nuovo (top right) and Palazzo Reale and Molosiglio Gardens (bottom right).

The marina in front of the Molosiglio Gardens.

The marina in front of the Molosiglio Gardens.

Piazza del Plebiscito

👍 At the end of Via Santa Lucia, turn left uphill at Via Cesario Console and walk towards the emblematic Piazza del Plebiscito, the vast open square on the west side of the Royal Palace (Palazzo Reale).

Piazza del Plebiscito.

Piazza del Plebiscito.

Piazza del Plebiscito.

Piazza del Plebiscito.

Basilica of San Francesco di Paola.

In front of the church, in the middle of the square stand two big equestrian statues of Charles III and his son, Ferdinand.

Piazza del Plebiscito from above.

Piazza del Plebiscito from above.

Basilica of San Francesco di Paola.

On the east side of stands the large basilica of San Francesco di Paola directly across from the palace. With its impressive dome, temple-like entrance (pronaos) and semicircular portico supported by 38 Doric columns, the church is one of the “postcard icons” of the city and one of the most impressive structures in Italy. The church built in 1816 based in plans by king Murat to build a Parthenon-like tribute to his boss, Napoleon Bonaparte. Before that it was the site of two churches, the church of San Luigi di Palazzo and the church of the Santo Spirito, with relatively easy access across what was then called “Largo del Palazzo” (Palace Square, referring to the Royal Palace).

Basilica of San Francesco di Paola seen from Palazzo Reale.

Basilica of San Francesco di Paola seen from Palazzo Reale.

The interior of basilica of San Francesco di Paola.

The interior of basilica of San Francesco di Paola.

The portico of basilica of San Francesco di Paola.

The portico of basilica of San Francesco di Paola.

This impressive square did not look anything like what it looks today. In 1994 they decided to converted it from a gigantic parking lot into a grand square for people to walk around in. The public reaction to that change was favorable, even from those who had to find somewhere else to park their cars. Since that time the square has served as a playground, a parade ground, a venue for all kinds of celebrations and music events. 

The Palazzo Reale

The Palazzo Reale stands on the site of an earlier residence, which had housed the former viceroy Don Pedro de Toledo, Marquis of Villafranca. The palace has its main façade on Piazza del Plebiscito, but the most impressive side is the southern one overlooking the Bay of Napoli. At the main façade are displayed in niches a series of statues of prominent rulers of Napoli since the foundation of the Kingdom of Napoli in the 12th century. The statues are displayed in chronological order, based on the dynasty of each ruler. The series starts with Roger (Roggero) the Norman followed by Frederick II Hohenstaufen, Charles I of Anjou (Angiò), Alfonse of Aragon, Emperor Charles V, Charles III of Bourbon (Spain), Joachim (Gioacchino) Murat and ends with Vittorio Emanuele II, the tallest statue and the last to be added.

Palazzo Reale.

Palazzo Reale.

Palazzo Reale was one of the four residences near Napoli used by the Bourbon Kings during their rule of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies (1734-1860): the others were the palaces of Caserta, Capodimonte overlooking Napoli, and the third Portici, on the slopes of Vesuvius. The building conceived by Ferdinando Ruiz de Castro, Count of Lemos, Spanish viceroy in Napoli (1599-1603), to be a residence for King Phillip III of Spain, who was planning a visit to the city. The architect chosen was Domenico Fontana (1543-1607). The building was put up on the site of the older Spanish vice-royal residence. Since then, the building has undergone several additions and changes.

Today, the palace and adjacent grounds house the famous Teatro San Carlo, the smaller Teatrino di Corte, the Biblioteca Nazionale Vittorio Emanuele III, a museum, and offices, including those of the regional tourist board.

Teatro San Carlo

Teatro San Carlo, the most ancient opera house in the world, is part of the royal palace complex and its main entrance on Via San Carlo is just across Galleria Umberto I.    

“Do you wish to know whether a spark of this devouring flame inspires you? then run, fly to Naples and listen to the masterpieces of Leo, Durante Jommelli and Pergolesi”. (Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Dictionnaire de Musique).

Teatro San Carlo.

Teatro San Carlo.

The foundation of this shrine to Italian opera precedes the Scala theatre in Milano by 41 years and the Fenice theatre in Venezia by 55 years. It was in 1737 that the first king of Bourbon, Charles III became the promoter of a project that combined magnificence with amazement and became a clear sign of his power: a theatre! It was the architect Giovanni Antonio Medrano, the Spanish colonel brigadier stationed in Napoli, who was responsible for the design. Medrano's design was of a hall (28.6 x 22.5 m) with 184 boxes distributed in six tiers and a Royal box for ten people. A total amount of 1379 seats.

The opening evening was celebrated with the performance of ‘Achilles in Sciro’ by Pietro Metastasio, with music by Domenico Sarro and 'two dances as an intermezzo' created by Grossatesta and scenes by Pietro Righini. At that time, women used to play the main character of operas, so Achilles was interpreted by Vittoria Tesi, called "La Moretta".

On the night of February 13th 1816, a fire destroyed a large part San Carlo theatre in less than an hour. The only parts of the building to survive the fire were the external masonry walls. The restoration was carried on in only nine months, was directed by Antonio Niccolini who re-made the theater by keeping its previous main features.  

“The first impression is that you have been transported to the palace of an oriental emperor. Your eyes are dazzled, your soul enraptured...” (Stehdhal, Rome, Naples et Florence, 1817).

The Tuscan architect, in fact, kept the horseshoe shape of the boxes and the proscenium configuration, just adding the wonderful clock with the low-relief of the 'Time and the Hours' that we can still admire. The center of the ceiling was decorated with a painting of Apollo introducing the greatest poets in the world to Minerva. The restoration of San Carlo Theatre was completed by the side facade made. As official architect of the royal theatres, Niccolini will also coordinate the next works of maintenance and restoration. Among these activities we remember the modernization of 1844.

The foyer we can see nowadays, in the eastern wing of the Royal Palace, was built in 1937 upon a design of Michele Platanìa. It was completely destroyed in 1943 by a bomb and rebuilt immediately after the war.

Piazza Municipio & Castel Nuovo

👍 Some meters down Via San Carlo, after the Royal Gardens, you enter to the heart of the city, the Piazza Municipio.

The importance of Piazza Municipio (City Hall Square) goes back to the late 13th century, when the ‘Maschio Angioino’ (Castel Nuovo) was built. The castle and area around it thus became the symbol of authority. Besides the castle, a new harbor was built directly in front of the castle. Later, the Aragonese and then the Spanish expanded the fortifications, such that, at its height, the castle housed the royal armory, foundry and the corps of the Royal Guards, taking up most of the present-day square. In the late 19th century, the urban renewal of Napoli started to shape to the area around the castle and transform it into the Piazza Municipio we see today.

Much of the transformation had to do with enlarging the port area and building new facilities for shipping. The final touch in that transformation didn’t come until the construction of the new Maritime Passenger Terminal in 1939. This imposing building is one of the several fine architecture examples of the Fascist regime. The Maritime Passenger Terminal, together with the central Post Office building at Piazza Giacomo Matteotti, are two of the architectonic masterpieces of that time. 

‘Maschio Angioino’ (Castel Nuovo).

‘Maschio Angioino’ (Castel Nuovo).

‘Maschio Angioino’ (Castel Nuovo) from above.

‘Maschio Angioino’ (Castel Nuovo) from above.

The impressive Triumphal Arch of ‘Maschio Angioino’ (Castel Nuovo).

The impressive Triumphal Arch of ‘Maschio Angioino’ (Castel Nuovo).

The most characteristic feature of the impressive Castel Nuovo, was built during the reign of Aragonese Alfonso I who, like his predecessors, used the Castel Nuovo as the royal residence. On the outside walls, between the Torre di Mezzo (Halfway Tower) and the Torre di Guardia (Watch Tower) the impressive Triumphal Arch was built to celebrate his victorious entry into the city of Napoli.

Over the years, the castle was surrounded by buildings of all kinds, warehouses and houses, and this happened time and time again. In the first two decades of the 20th century, the Municipal Council began the work of isolating the castle from the annexed buildings in recognition of the historical and monumental importance of the fortress and the need to reclaim the piazza in front of it. The castle is today the venue of cultural events and also houses the Municipal Museum.

Today the area on the east of the castle and the lower part of the Piazza Municipio is inaccessible due to extensive works for building a new metro station. 

Piazza Municipio and Maritime Passenger Terminal in the background and Castel Nuovo on the right (top left). Piazza Municipio with Palazzo San Giacomo and Fontana del Nettuno (top right). The Maritime Passenger Terminal in the background (bottom left). Piazza Municipio and an artistic installation of wolfs (bottom right).

Piazza Municipio and Maritime Passenger Terminal in the background and Castel Nuovo on the right (top left). Piazza Municipio with Palazzo San Giacomo and Fontana del Nettuno (top right). The Maritime Passenger Terminal in the background (bottom left). Piazza Municipio and an artistic installation of wolfs (bottom right).

👍 On the north of the square stands the Palazzo San Giacomo, known as the Municipio (city hall). This Neoclassical style palace houses the mayor and the offices of the municipality. The entire office complex spans from Largo de Castello to Via Toledo, along via di San Giacomo. In 1816, King Ferdinand I of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies commissions the construction of a centralized building to house the various ministries of the government. The area for this palace was chosen, and the buildings therein were either demolished or incorporated including the monastery and church of the Concezione, the Hospital of San Giacomo, and the offices of the Bank of San Giacomo. The church of San Giacomo degli Spagnoli was incorporated into the palace. Work was only completed in 1825. In the atrium are two statues of Kings Ruggiero the Norman and Frederick of Swabia. The statues of the Bourbon Kings, Ferdinand I and Francesco I of the Two Sicilies, that once stood in niches here, were substituted by allegorical figures. The entry way also has a head from a bust which has been assigned to the mythical representative of Naples, the siren Parthenope.

In the middle of the square stands the Fontana del Nettuno. The fountain is circular and surrounded by a balustrade. Water flows from four lions who hold shields with the symbols of Medina y de Carafa. Two sea monsters pour water in the central shell, adorned with dolphins and Tritons that also emit water. In the center, on a rock, two nymphs and two satyrs hold up a saucer that features a statue of Neptune with trident. 

Me in front of ‘Maschio Angioino’ (Castel Nuovo).

Me in front of ‘Maschio Angioino’ (Castel Nuovo).

There are very few pieces of sculpture that have traveled as much as this one. This fountain was built in 1601 by the Arsenal. It was built on the order of Enrico de Guzman, the Spanish viceroy at the time and was situated so that it faced his residence.

In 1629, it was transported to Largo di Palazzo (now Piazza del Plebiscito), but since it hindered the festivals held in the plaza there, the fountain was again moved to Borgo Santa Lucia, near Castel dell' Ovo. 

In 1638, it was again moved, this time to Largo delle Corregge, today Via Medina. During the revolt of Masaniello in 1647, the statue was damaged. Further damage occurred during the sacking of Napoli in 1672 by the Viceroy Pedro Antonio de Aragón.

In 1675, it underwent restoration and was moved to the Molo Grande.

This migratory fountain has continued to move through Naples: in 1886, it was dismantled, to reappear in 1889 in Piazza Plaza della Borsa (now Plaza Giovanni Bovio), where it stood till 2000, when she was returned to Via Medina to allow for work on the Napoli Metro.  Indeed, they finished the station at Piazza Borsa in 2011, but instead of returning Neptune to that site, they put in its place a large statue of king Victor Emanuele II.

So, the decided to move it finally to Piazza Municipio after works for the metro station Municipio finish.  Indeed in 2015, Napoli’s most travelled fountain is now in front of the city hall and Neptune stares down across the entire length of the still unfinished metro construction site to the main passenger terminal of the port of Naples. It's probably a better location since it's a pedestrian zone and you can now walk completely around the fountain and see it from all angles.

Galleria Umberto I

👍 Walk Via Giuseppe Verdi (the road in front of the City Hall) southbound and at Via Santa Brigida turn right and after some meters you see the northern entrance to Galleria Umberto I.

You can cross the Galleria from north to south and exit from the main entrance (south), directly across from the Teatro San Carlo (the Napoli Tourist Office is located at this exit), or after reaching the central hall you can turn right and exit to Via Toledo. Here at this exit you can stop for some tasty street food at ‘Passione Di Sofì’.

The Galleria Umberto in Naples is in the shape of a Crux immissa, that is, one in which the main, vertical beam sticks above the crossbeam. The Gallery is oriented almost precisely to the four cardinal points. The long "beam" is 138 meters long, while the shorter crossbeam is 108 meters long. They meet at a large space called the "crossing." If you stand in the middle of the crossing, the top of the dome is 57 meters above you. Where the sections of the cross meet at the central space, they form large surfaces at the NW, NE, SW and SE points. These are quite large and are entrances to the offices on the upper floors of the Gallery.

Galleria Umberto I from above.

Galleria Umberto I from above.

The Gallery was inaugurated in 1890, and named for Umberto I, who was king of Italy from 1878 until 1900 when he died at the hands of an assassin. Part of the Risanamento was also to renew the area across from San Carlo known as Santa Brigida, and this is how the Gallery was built. The Galleria Umberto was based on the design of the gallery in Milano completed in 1865; yet, it was a more aesthetic fusion of the industrial glass and metal of the upper part and the masonry below, which, itself, is a spectacular collage of Renaissance and Baroque ornamentation, tapering off to clean smoothness of marble at the ground concourse.

The Gallery has been recently renovated, after a lengthy procedure. The tragic reason for this renovation is because few years ago a chunk of masonry fell from the east entrance on via Toledo and struck and killed a teenager boy, a youngster who was out for a stroll with friends. When something like that happens, there is understandable public outrage. "Why can't the city maintain these buildings!?" is the common cry, and so the city starts another round of slow and underfunded repairs.  

Galleria Umberto I.

Galleria Umberto I.

Comments

14.01.2020 16:55

Cindy Clements

Caro Signor Kostas, Grazie mille for your beautiful and informative excursions in Bella Napoli, my favorite city in Italy. I cannot wait to read more! :D