History of culture
Naples’ historic city centre is the largest in all of Europe, packed to the brim with palaces, museums and hundreds of churches from the Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque eras. If you’re looking to slip into the past on your package holidays to Italy, you’ve come to the right place.
Naples is known for its wide breadth of museums and their extensive collections that illuminate the city’s colourful past. The Naples National Archaeological Museum has the world’s largest collection of artefacts from the Roman Empire, while the Museo di Capodimonte houses many works of art by painting masters Titan, Caravaggio and El Greco.
But wandering through the city’s museums isn’t the only way to familiarise yourself with its incredible culture. There’s a network of catacombs to explore and ornate theatres hosting opera and ballet. Even sipping coffee from the vibrant Piazza del Plebiscito is an activity of its own.
The birthplace of pizza
The story goes that pizza first came onto the culinary radar in 18th-century Naples after people began adding tomatoes to their flatbread. Pizza was historically a food that was common among the poor, mostly because the ingredients were cheap to acquire. It was primarily sold from street vendors until the establishment of the first pizzeria, the Antica Pizzeria Port’Alba.
As the ingredients became more elaborate – eventually moving on from a plain cheese pizza to the famous margherita pizza, named for the Queen Margherita of Savoy – the popularity of pizza grew to the cultural icon we know today.
Pizza isn’t the only world-renowned food stuff Naples is responsible for contributing to the wider culinary world. It’s said Neapolitan people invented spaghetti, and the city is renowned for its gelato, a dish originally thought up in Florence.
On the whole, food is taken very seriously in Naples. The making of Neapolitan pizzas is even monitored by law to ensure only the best ingredients are being used. As if that weren’t enough, Naples also has the highest number of accredited Michelin stars, scattered around town at some seriously gourmet restaurants.
But you don’t have to dine in luxury to taste Naples’ best flavours, as the assortment of restaurants also includes quiet spots down cobbled alleys to food vendors. Naples is responsible for the creation of the romantic guitar and mandolin, so your chances of hearing a little music with your meal are very high.
Though Naples’ main draw is undoubtedly its heaps of culture, lesser known is the city’s upbeat nightlife scene. The organised chaos that permeates Naples’ streets during the day stays strong well into the night, upping the energy at after-hours spots.
The city’s evening scene comes on a spectrum, with everything from massive beachside venues to quirky places like Cammarota Spritz. This pop-up cocktail shack has milk crates for seats and brightly-coloured drinks for only a euro.
The famed volcano responsible for wiping out almost the entire city of Pompeii in AD 79 lies in the not-too-far distance, just a 30-minute drive from Naples. After the population was decimated by rocks, ash and rubble, much of the city and the citizens’ remains were preserved by mountainous layers of ash. Nowadays, many of the artefacts found after the eruption are on display at the Pompeii site, including remarkably-preserved bodies and city structures.