Naples: an alternative itinerary

Naples: an alternative itinerary

Musement takes a look off the usual trodden paths of Naples to share some alternative sights and experiences.

The catacombs, Piazza Plebiscito, Via Toledo, Spaccanapoli, Gino Sorbillo’s pizzeria, San Gregorio Armeno, and the Lungomare Mergellina. Of course, these, along with many other locales, are absolute musts when in Naples. However, there are some lesser known (and therefore less touristy) places that let you experience Naples at its most authentic. Here’s a look at seven you should visit:

1. The Chapel of Sansevero

The “Veiled Christ” by Giuseppe Sammartino is one of the world’s most mysterious sculptures: the thin veil that covers the lifeless body of Jesus is so realistic that it does not seem carved in marble. Antonio Corradini’s “Modesty” and Francesco Queirolo\s “Disillusionment”, also onsite, are two profound complex statues. Finally, you can admire two bizarre works that are both disturbing and mysterious: the “Anatomical Machines”, skeletons of a man and a woman with their arteriovenous systems still intact. Today we do not know how doctor Giuseppe Salerno realized them, but legend has it that magic and alchemy played a big part.

2. The Monastery of Santa Chiara

An oasis of peace and quiet in the heart of Naples, the ancient Monumental Complex of Santa Chiara was built in 1310 by King Robert of Anjou and his wife Sancia de Mallorca. It has two convents, one for the Poor Clares and one for the Franciscan friars, and is characterized by a beautiful rose window on the main facade and a cloister (which dates back to 1700) with beautiful majolica pillars, vegetable festoons, and lemon trees. Visit during the Christmas season to see the traditional nativity with 18th- and 19th-century shepherds.

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Chiosco Francescano Napoli

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3. The Cemetery of Poggioreale

The Poggioreale Cemetery is home to precious examples of sculptural art: Tombs, statues, churches, and chapels are scattered throughout the complex. No two are the same, but all boast incredible beauty and artistic value. Particularly noteworthy are the Quadrilateral of illustrious men where Benedetto Croce and Francesco De Sanctis are buried, among others, and the Jewish Cemetery.

4. San Diego Armando Maradona

It can be said with some certainty that, after San Gennaro, the figure to whom the Neapolitans entrust their prayers is Diego Armando Maradona. The Argentinean champion is considered a divinity of sorts in Naples, to the point that an altar with annexed relics has been dedicated to him. The votive shrine is located in Largo Corpo and includes an autographed photo of the “pibe de oro”, a lock of his tresses called “the Miraculous Hair”, rosary beads, and several newspaper articles about the victories of Naples.

5. La Panoramica

On the hill of Posillipo, in Via Petrarca, you can admire Vesuvius and the Gulf of Naples in all its magnificence. This observation point is called “la Panoramica”–you’ll understand why once you reach the top.

6. The Underwater Park of Gaiola

Diving enthusiasts can enjoy the city of Naples from a completely unprecedented perspective: the seabed of the Underwater Park of Gaiola, a marine-protected area that expands between the islands of Gaiola and the Gulf. In addition to maritime fauna and flora, it also hosts fascinating archaeological remains of the Imperial Villa of Pausilypon and the Roman theatre that dates back to the first century BC.

7. The best pizza in the world

We’ve discussed how you’re likely to fare well in Naples when it comes to pizza, but if you have the opportunity to head out of town, take a trip to sample what has been called in the best pizza in the world: the pizza of Pepe in Grani where Franco Pepe serves pies prepared with heritage grains in an exceptional 18th-century castle.

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