Naples’s history starts from the 9th century BC with the name Paleopolis or Parthenope. The name Naples or Neapoli originated on 5th BC and means New City in Greek. Naples was a very important city of the Magna Graecia and had an important role in the Mediterranean since that time.
It is widely known that North and South Italy are totally different. North Italy is by far richer and this is something that you are going to realize almost immediately. This of course is not always a bad thing. The Italian cuisine is almost always spectacular regardless of the price. Either you are in Rome or in Naples!
Today Naples is the 3rd biggest city in Italy known as the home of Pizza, the city where Maradona is being worshiped as a god, its catacombs and of course its reach historical sightseeings such as Pompeii and the Herculaneum.
Our trip to Naples was not restricted only to the city. We wanted to discover more. In order to do so, we decided to organize our trip the same way we did in Barcelona. By arranging accommodation near to Naples (Torre del Greco) and renting a car.
1. Wander around Naples
It is not a surprise that the Historical center of Naples is listed as a UNESCO Heritage Site since 1995. The long history, the architecture, the authentic town plan from the Roman-Greco area, and the checkerboard layout of the 16th-century “Spanish quarters” make this city unique.
When you will get used to the thousands of Vespas 🛵 (every third citizen owns one) around the city then you will start enjoying it.
Of course, if you join a guided tour it will be easier to orient and you will not miss anything from Naples.
Pompeii is the city that was buried from mount Vezouvios in 79 AC and froze in time. It was a big town with around 20.000 people, a real commercial center.
Since it was a port, an important one at the time, it was kind of a sailors’ quarter. That means that was fun as well! During our visit, our guide pointed us to lots of bars, baths, brothels, restaurants, and places of entertainment.
The remains of homes that you will visit give a glimpse into roman lifestyles.
What impressed us and made us feel a little bit sad as well, were the casted bodies. During the excavations, the archaeologists discovered some empty spaces due to the decomposition of bodies. What they did is that they injected liquid plaster into these empty spaces which took the form of the bodies. When the plaster dried up, the archaeologists removed the ash away and appeared the bodies in the same position that they were in 2.000 years ago.
Of course, this is going without saying that you MUST visit Pompeii WITH a tour guide! We were extremely lucky to have as a guide Diego (and no, his name is not after Maradonna) from Askos tours. Find a link to the tour here and ask for Diego!
3. The Archaeological Museum of Naples
Pompei was excavated in the 17th century and the local king back then demanded to bring him the best of whatever they were going to find. For this reason, the finest art and artifacts of Pompeii ended up in Naples and later on in the National Museum of Archaeology.
In the National Museum of Archaeology, you will find some of the best Roman and Greek sculptures in existence. The collection ranges from grand statuary to amazing mosaics that give a sense of the sophistication and the wealth of Pompeii’s city and its people.
If you want to get a glimpse of Pompeii’s residents’ personal life and their perception of erotism visit the “Il Gabinetto Segreto” which means the secret Cabinet.
This room was a separate exhibition for several years due to the censorship of the articles’ erotic topic. Today is free to visit!! 😉
4. Naples catacombs
There are two main catacombs in Naples. The San Gaudioso and di San Gennaro. The ticket that you will purchase for any of those two sightseeings is valid for the other catacomb site as well.
On both occasions, the tickets include guided tours which are very explanatory. We recommend organizing your tour a couple of days before as the tours are taking place in groups every hour with a restricted number of visitors.
Remember. One ticket is valid for both Catacombs. We advise you to prebook a ticket for San Gennaro. The San Gaudioso catacombs are closer to the city center so in case you will have to wait for an hr for entering with the next available group, you will not lose your time just waiting in the queue line.
San Gaudioso catacombs
The catacombs of San Gaudioso were those that excited us the most.
They are located under the basilica San Vincenzo Della Sanita. It was built on 1602 and it was based on the designs of Giuseppe Nuvolo, an early Baroque-style architect. The basilica was originally part of a Dominican monastery founded in 1577.
What makes the catacombs of San Gaudioso unique is the gallery. You will see skulls heads attached to the walls and frescos of some important people of the time decorating the main corridor.
It can be creepy, yes but the scope was to remind one thing. Whoever you are (a princess or common person., a judge or a criminal) there is one thing that you cannot avoid and we are all equal against it. The death.
Catacombs di San Gennaro
You can easily locate the Catacombs of San Genaro from the Basilica Madre del Buon Consiglio. A church that was constructed between 1920 and 1940 in a model of St. Peter’s in Rome.
From the courtyard of this church is the entrance to the ancient catacomb site, part of the biggest catacomb Symplex in South Italy. The fresco with San Genaro with Mount Vesuvius on one side is one of the most beautiful achievements of early Christian painting.
The Catacombs di San Gennaro has a uniquely impressive atmosphere with plays of light and shade created where the light floods in through natural skylights or man-made openings and passageways.
5. Capri Island
Capri is a beautiful island just 1hr away from Naples with a fast boat. We booked a full-day guided tour for 120€ per person something that we strongly recommend NOT to do.
The tour included the ferry ticket, the guide, and one lunch on the island. In short, the ferry ticket costs around 26 euros both ways, the tour guides give more attention to promoting the local shops and shopping in general and the lunch was really bad. Something that is really hard to achieve in Italy!
We concluded everything that we got to know in this article, from Homer’s references to today’s production of the big lemons and the limoncello to the Augustus’ gardens with the breathtaking view!
6. Fiore di Furore
The Fiore di Furore is one of the most known beaches-highlights of the Amalfi coast and not without a reason! The clean waters, the steep cliffs from which dozens of visitors diving from, and the picturesque arched bridge compose a magical landscape.
The reason why it is not so crowded is probably because it is difficult to reach.
There are different ways to approach this wonderful beach either by car, motorbike or by foot and you will find all those in a separate post that we prepared! Actually in the end you have to walk a little bit anyway. How to reach Fiore di Furore
7. Amalfi Coast
The Amalfi Coast or the “Divine Coast” as it is known, is one of the most beautiful places on Italy’s seafront. Hence it is one of the most popular destinations since the 18th century, especially for wealthy Europeans. Today the Amalfi Coast is an international jet set destination with luxury hotels and famous visitors from all over the globe.
Amalfi Coast has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997 for its landscape, the diversity of landscape types, and its long history.
You will enjoy the narrow instagrammable streets with the many small shops, the liquor limoncello and you will fall in love with the lemon sorbet ice cream served maiden local huge lemons!
In the last few years, Positano is a huge trend worldwide. Its narrow streets, colorful flowers, and houses in combination with the Mediterranean’s blue make every corner a perfect spot for a love story! ❤️
Positano is part of Costiera Amalfitana which as we mentioned above is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
A lot of people compare Positano with Santorini but we will have to disagree. Positano is about the way that the colorful houses are built on the hill in combination with the Mediterranean blue. Santorini and its caldera is about the cliff itself and the amazing natural, imposing view of the Volcano. In other words, in Santorini, you will admire the view from the cliff, the most beautiful balcony in the world, while in Positano you will admire the cliff itself from a point of view of a drone or a boat.
For this exact reason you have to make, a short at least, ride with a boat to admire Positano’s scenery! Make your research from home and book your ride via GetYourGuide. The boat tours are really popular so looking for a tour at the last moment is not a wise idea.
9. Archaeological Park of Herculaneum
Herculaneum is much smaller than Pompeii but almost intact. Many claim that it is better than Pompeii for several reasons. One of those is the incredible frescos that are still on the site itself and not in a Museum. Moreover, you can wander more freely to the rooms and condors compared to Pompeii and visit more houses.
It is a fact that the residents of Herculaneum were wealthier as a result their houses were bigger with fancy mosaics. It is incredible that on some occasions even the carbonized wood has survived!
Of course, you will get the best out of your visit to Herculaneum if you arrange your visit with a guide!
10. Visit Mount Vesuvius
Our list wouldn’t be complete if visiting the imposing mount Vesuvius was missing. Vesuvius volcano is assumed as the most dangerous volcano in the world due to the almost 3 million residents leaving nearby. It is just a couple of hours from Naples and if you have a car is easy to approach even by yourself.
Hiking to Vesuvius mountain is short, around 20 minutes, but it is steep. A good piece of advice is to have with you some trekking or at least sports shoes. Avoid for sure open-toe shoes.
It wouldn’t be a bad idea to combine Pompeii and Vesuvius visit. At the end of the day, this Volcano is the cause of Pompeii’s and Herculaneum’s disaster.