Napoli and the Gulf
The city of Naples was established by the Greeks in the second millennium BC and was initially named after the Greek siren goddess Parthenope. According to legend, Parthenope despaired after failing to lure Odysseus to her island, cast herself into the sea and drowned. Her body was washed ashore near Naples, and hence the worship of her in this area. People in Naples still refer to themselves as Parthenopeans.
“Europe has three capitals: Paris, London and Naples” wrote Stendahl in 1817 in Rome, Naples and Florence, sealing that extraordinary fortune that, even in the XVII Century, had led Naples to become a compulsory and privileged stop-over during the Grand Tours made by cultured Europeans. The attraction for generations of travellers has always been the extraordinary architectural patrimony, with its magnificent churches and convents and mighty castles; the richness of the paintings and sculptures, the extraordinary natural setting: a Gulf dotted with enchanting islands. “Naples is a paradise” said Goethe. A place that has suffered more invasions and experienced more rulers that any other Mediterranean city. The Greeks, Byzantines, Normans, Swabians, Angenvis, Aragonese, Spaniards, Austrians, French, all have passed through, leaving indelible traces of their culture in the magnificent monuments. Moreover, they have created an original syncretism, to the extent that an architectural language has been created from the individual accents.
THE HISTORICAL CITY CENTRE OF NAPLES
Discover the city and its wonders through a walk that will show you all about Naples’ past and present, through the many sovereigns and dynasties that ruled the city. You could go through Spaccanapoli, the main street that crosses the old historical centre of the city; this area is chaotic, as well as vibrant, colourful, noisy, mysterious, and beautiful. In other words, it is the real essence of Naples.
You could visit Santa Chiara Monastery with its wonderful majolica Clarisse Cloisters. Later you’ll reach Sansevero Chapel, a jewel of the Neapolitan baroque sculpture, with the famous sculpture of the Veiled Christ. Going on, you could walk through San Gregorio Armeno, the heart of traditional artisan workshops and famous Christmas handcraft. The visit could continue to San Lorenzo Roman excavations in a journey back in time that covers a period from the 5th century BC. until the end of the 18th century AD.
The Complex is a perfectly preserved historical testimony of how the city has grown and evolved, a continuous mixture of ancient and modern.
RUINS OF POMPEII
Discover the magic of this remote place, which has been inhabited for more than 2000 years. Rediscovering a world that was buried in ashes for centuries means finding intact all our oldest culture and our great history.
The tour shows you Pompeii’s ruins, striking evidence of Roman civilization; this city is marked by outstanding evidence on the art, customs, trades and everyday life from the past. The city has re-emerged from the darkness of the centuries, just as it was when it was unexpectedly buried in the thick layer of ashes and lava that destroyed it during the devastating eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD.
RUINS OF HERCULANEUM
Herculaneum was an ancient Roman town, located in the modern-day town of Ercolano. Herculaneum was buried under volcanic ash and pumice in the Eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD.
Herculaneum is famous as one of the few ancient cities to be preserved nearly intact, as the ash that blanketed the town protected it against looting and the elements. It was the first and, for a long time, the only discovered Vesuvian city (in 1709). Unlike Pompeii, the mainly pyroclastic material that covered Herculaneum carbonized and preserved more wooden objects such as rooves, beds, and doors, as well as other organic-based materials such as food and papyrus.
Although smaller than Pompeii with a population of circa 5,000, Herculaneum was a wealthier town. It was a seaside retreat for the Roman elite, as reflected by the extraordinary density of luxurious houses featuring lavish use of coloured marble cladding.
This immense cliff rising from the abyss is a true miracle that unites earth, sky, sea and light. The sea caves, the extraordinarily shaped Faraglioni, the green vegetation on the steep rocky slopes, the incomparable scenery, the mix of nature, art, culture and jet-set society, make this island one of the most beautiful ones in the world.
You can shop in the characteristic artisan shops and boutiques of Via Camerelle and Via delle Botteghe, evocative streets full of wonderful views. We suggest you reach the Augustus Gardens, where you can enjoy a breathtaking view of this Mediterranean gem, surrounded by the local flora.
THE ROYAL PALACE OF CASERTA
Visit the Royal Palace and its wonderful park. The Royal Palace of Caserta was commissioned by Charles III of Bourbon, who decided to build the Versailles of his kingdom in this fertile region.
This architectural masterpiece was designed by Luigi Vanvitelli. It was one of the largest buildings erected in Europe during the 18th century. It comprises 1200 rooms connected by 34 staircases and illuminated by 1.970 windows. The magnificent garden inspired by the park of Versailles, starts from the back façade of the palace, flanking a long alley with artificial fountains and cascades.
You can also visit a botanical garden, called “The English Garden”.
THE PHLEGRAEAN FIELDS
West of Napoli, the Phlegraean area is a stretch of coastline that lies above the largest volcanic area in Europe. It is home to a number of important archaeological sites, coastal lakes, beaches, thermal springs, and nature reserves and embraces the Gulf of Pozzuoli, with the cities of Pozzuoli and Baia. A residential area during the Roman empire, it is home to numerous archeological sites, such as the Oracle of the Cumaean Sibyl, with the cave where the sibyl pronounced her prophesies, the Piscina Mirabilis, an impressively immense Roman cistern, and the Underwater Archaeological Park, including the remains of the ancient city of Baia.
ISCHIA AND PROCIDA
Just in front of the Northern tip of the Gulf of Napoli and the Gulf of Pozzuoli, are the islands of Ischia and Procida. Procida is a small fishing island, which has managed to preserve its most ancient and authentic soul. Selected as Italian Capital of Culture 2022, the island of Procida is very small, not only is it a place to visit but it is a place to live at a slow and laconic pace, strolling through the maze of narrow streets of the iconic Corricella, admiring the colored houses from the sea or from the panoramic points scattered along the road that leads to Terra Murata and the Monastery of Santa Margherita. The older sister, Ischia, it is one of the most sought-after tourist destinations in Italy. It is a volcanic island, known for its thermal springs and its beautiful coast. The Ischia area also preserves historical jewels such as the majestic Aragonese Castle, from the Middle Ages. In the small Archaeological Museum of Pithecusae, in Villa Arbusto, the Cup of Nestor is kept, the oldest finding the Greek language so far.
SORRENTO AND AMALFI COAST
Along the coasts of the mountain chain that closes the southern side of the Gulf of Napoli, the “Monti Lattari”, lay the worldwide famous “Costiera Sorrentina” and “Costiera Amalfitana”. Many little colourful towns are scattered along the coast such as Sorrento and Massa Lubrense on one side, Positano, Amalfi and Ravello on the other side. Culture, nature, food and glamour are the components of an irresistible mix.