2 days in Naples: the itinerary
14 July 2022
Before starting our tour, we strongly recommend purchasing a Campania Artecard Pass which you can use to enter the city's attractions with great savings and the extremely useful "skip the queue" feature. Set off early in the morning from Piazza del Plebiscito, the point of intersection between the enclosed spaces of the old city and the open area of the marina. In the middle of the colonnade, the Basilica of San Francesco di Paola is a circular church in the neoclassic style. It is well worth visiting its magnificent interior.
On the opposite side of the square, the Royal Palace extends with all its magnificence towards the sea and is linked to another pearl of Bourbon architecture: the San Carlo Theatre - the oldest opera house in Europe. A stroll along Via Toledo is a must, as it passes through the built-up area dotted with boutiques of fashion brands and shops of all kinds.
Naples offers many ideas for lunch. Pizza is the queen of Neapolitan cuisine, as well as symbolising it around the world, yet Neapolitan gastronomy is much broader thanks to skilfully cooked fish dishes and “gems” such macaroni omelette, meat sauce, pastiera pastries, rum baba and the supreme sfogliatella (crunchy or soft). Not to mention the full scale ritual appointment with coffee, celebrated in the historic cafés of the city centre.
After lunch, return towards the city centre on the Metro, another special feature of Naples with few equals thanks to stations that are - or host - works of art. Enter Toledo station and after a few ritual selfies and stories, move on to Dante station; here, once back in the open air, follow the signs for Via dei Tribunali (nicknamed “Spaccanapoli” since it splits the city in two). On arriving at the Monument to San Gaetano, in the square of the same name that interrupts the street, you have reached the entrance to Underground Naples.
Here, you can take a journey of 2400 years from the Greek era to modern Naples, between tunnels and cisterns 40 metres below street level. In the late afternoon, venture into the evocative via San Gregorio Armeno, where the nativity scene is on show all year round. Afterwards, enjoy dinner nearby or move on to Castel dell'Ovo, for the inevitable pizza, or take a longer journey into Neapolitan taste in one of the many restaurants on the sea front.
You can start the second day with breakfast in the Cathedral area and then visit the Metropolitan Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta (the full name of "Naples Cathedral”), the outcome of a sequence of styles ranging from pure XIV century Gothic to the neo-Gothic of the XIX century. It is home to the reliquary ampoule containing the blood of San Gennaro (Januarius), the patron saint of the city. The people of Naples celebrate the rite of liquefaction here three times a year.
Not far away, don't miss a close encounter in the Sansevero Chapel Museum, home to the Veiled Christ, one of the world's most amazing sculptures. It depicts the lifeless body of Jesus covered by transparent shroud, seemingly thrown over the work but actually part of the single block of marble.
For lunch, why not explore street-food: pizza a portafoglio (resembling a wallet), fried pizza and the legendary cuoppo, a straw paper cone filled of small and delicious fried seafood, meat or desserts. In the afternoon, take a stroll to Maschio Angioino, another symbol of Naples worldwide - an historic Mediaeval and Renaissance castle overlooking Piazza del Municipio. Follow this with a walk in the most iconographic Naples - the Quartieri Spagnoli district and its boutiques and craft shops, fish and fruit & vegetable markets - where sheets spread out in the wind flutter on the washing lines between balconies. One of these alleys also boasts the famous mural dedicated to Maradona.
The day ends on a high note: a cable car ride from Toledo to Vomero, a residential area located on the heights above Naples. A magnificent dinner overlooking the gulf is a perfect conclusion to two exciting days.