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A treasure trove of historical, cultural and gastronomical delights welcomes visitors to Naples. Find out what awaits you when you land...
One of the oldest cities in the world, the first Greek settlements sprung up in the area during the 2nd millennium BC, with these settlements formalised as a city around 600BC. Indeed, the word 'Naples' is itself of Grecian origin, stemming from the Greek word 'Neapolis', meaning 'new city.' Since its formation, the city has passed through Greek, Roman, Gothic and Norman rulership before its present incarnation as the capital city of the Campania region of Italy. This varied heritage means Naples maintains a quite different feel to the rest of Italy; the city even has its own language, 'Napulitano', although this is not universally recognised to be a separate language and the official language of the city is Italian. Visitors to the city can easily get by with a basic knowledge of Italian and the Neapolitan people are largely friendly, always eager to accommodate and assist foreign speakers.
Just as the original Neapolitan language has survived, so a number of significant historical sites remain standing today, in spite of numerous wars in and around the area and the subjection of Naples to extensive bombing during World War II. These sites include within their number an incredible 448 historical and monumental churches, one of the most popular of which is the iconic Duomo. Naples' main church, the Duomo holds within it two ornate chapels and is built on top of the remains of a Roman settlement, which has recently been excavated. Other fascinating churches include the New Jesuite Church, which is easily one of the most extravagant Baroque churches in the world and San Lorenzo Maggiore, a carefully carved medieval church which was also built on top of the Roman city, the remains of which can be explored by visitors today.
Aside from its stunning churches, Naples is also home to a number of fascinating castles and several major galleries and museums including the Museo Nazionale di Capodimonte, the Neapolitan national art gallery which displays a wide selection of important works by major Renaissance and Baroque artists and the Museo Archeologico Nazionale, famed as the largest collection of Roman artefacts and exhibitions in the world. Particularly worth a visit is the 'Secret Room', which holds many of the surviving artefacts from the lost city of Pompeii, which was buried after the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, preserving many of the city's inhabitants and remnants of their lifestyles within layers of lava and volcanic ash.
One attraction of Naples which is truly unique to the Italian lifestyle is the piazza culture. All Italian cities have their own piazzas, large squares where Italians gather in the hot afternoons and warm evenings to walk, gossip or simply sit watching the world go by over a glass of wine or a meal.
When it comes to food, Naples undeniably lives up to its reputation as the pizza capital of the world. A far cry from the bafflingly lengthy menus of Italian restaurants in other corners of the globe, the majority of Naples' pizzerias pride themselves on just two types of pizza: pizza margherita, topped with tomato, basil and mozzarella cheese; and pizza marinara, topped with tomato, garlic, oregano and olive oil. Here, pizza chefs prefer to focus their guests' taste buds on the simple elegance of finely prepared fresh produce rather than overloading them with cheap, unnatural toppings as is the fashion in international 'Italian' restaurants. That said, don't be afraid to try more exotic pasta and seafood sauces, which are almost always just as fresh and just as delicious!
There are various options for you to get to Naples and its surrounding areas. Find out the best way for you...
Naples' location on the southern coast of Italy makes it most easily accessed by plane. Naples International Airport (NAP) lies just under seven kilometres north-east of the city centre, in the Capodichino district.
Flights to Naples take just over two hours from the UK and you can fly with a variety of airlines on non-stop services. For example, easyJet flies from Bristol, Edinburgh, Gatwick, Stansted and Liverpool. Monarch flies from Luton and Manchester, and British Airways offers several daily services from London Gatwick.
If there are no direct flights from an airport near you, you could try a connecting flight via Paris, Amsterdam or Frankfurt with Air France, KLM or Lufthansa, which all operate from around the UK via their European hub to Naples.
Additionally, you can look out for charters from Thomson and Thomas Cook which offer flights to the Italian city during the peak summer months.
Rome can be reached in just under an hour by train and Milan is accessible via the longest motorway in Italy. You can catch a ferry to Sorrento and Capri, or further afield to Sicily or Sardinia.
Naples flights serve destinations across the world and the airport is easily accessible by car, bus or taxi. Find out the most convenient option for you…
Most taxi companies operate a fixed fare between the airport and main destinations within the city, relieving tired travellers of any unnecessary and complicated haggling over charges!
Whether you want to get into the heart of historic Naples or enjoy a more relaxed vibe, there is plenty of choice in the city...
Opting to stay in the historic centre of Naples will mean you have a good base from which to see the sights, and will also mean you are well placed for enjoying day trips to sights such as Capri, eerie Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius. It also means you will never be too far from a pizzeria dishing up the city’s delicious delicacy!
Hip and high-end Chiaia is another option for your stay. With its seaside location, tree-lined roads and chic boutiques, you’ll have plenty to explore. It is also home to many art galleries and is known as one of the most elegant areas of the city, so you may find that the price tag matches this.
Alternatively, you may wish to stay in Via Constantinopoli, one of Naples’ most bustling squares, with plenty of bars, restaurants and cafes to keep you entertained until the small hours.