Naples district guide







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Naples district guide                          (Back to Naples main information page)

Whatever your real interest is in Campania, the chances are that you'll wind up in NAPLES - capital of the region and, indeed, of the whole Italian south. It's the kind of city laden with visitors' preconceptions, and it rarely disappoints. inhabitants will be keener than anyone to tell you. In all these things lies the city's charm. Perhaps the feeling that you're somewhere unique makes it possible to endure the noise and harassment, perhaps it's the feeling that in less than three hours you've travelled from an ordinary part of Europe to somewhere akin to an Arab bazaar. One thing, though, is certain: a couple of days here and you're likely to be as staunch a defender of the place as its most devoted inhabitants. Few cities on earth inspire such fierce loyalties.

Naples is a surprisingly large city, and a sprawling one, with a centre that has many different focuses. The area between Piazza Garibaldi and Via Toledo, roughly corresponding to the old Roman Neapolis (much of which is still unexcavated below the ground), makes up the old part of the city - the centro storico - the main streets still following the path of the old Roman roads. This is much the liveliest, most teeming part of town, an open-air kasbah of hawking, yelling humanity that makes up in energy what it lacks in grace. Buildings rise high on either side of the narrow, crowded streets, cobwebbed with washing; there's little light, not even much sense of the rest of the city outside - certainly not of the proximity of the sea.

But the insularity of the centro storico is deceptive, and in reality there's another, quite different side to Naples, one that's much more like the sunwashed Bay of Naples murals you've seen in cheap restaurants back home. Via Toledo , the main street of the city, edges the old centre from the Palazzo Reale up to the Museo Nazionale Archeologico and the heights of Capodimonte ; to the left rises the V?ero , with its fancy housing and museums, and the smug neighbourhood of Chiaia , beyond which lies the long green boulevard of Riviera de Chiara , stretching around to the districts of Mergellina and Posillipo : all neighbourhoods that exert quite a different kind of pull - that of an airy waterfront city, with views, seafood eaten al fresco and peace and quiet.

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