Naples: the face and the soul

If you watch it from the height of Posillipo, you’ll see a huge ring split into two parts. That is Naples, its diameter and its very famous street called “Spaccanapoli” – that cross the centre from the Spanish District (Quartieri Spagnoli) to Forcella district, cutting the town along a direct line. Eternally famous, Naples stretches along the Gulf that gets its name between the Vesuvio and the volcanic area of Campi Flegrei.

Naples: one and one hundred thousand, it is the core of the legend and history, an anthology of architectural styles, a combination of ancient universities and Institutes – the Historical Studies one founded by Benedetto Croce is very famous -, Naples is rich of ides, it is a mix of styles, moods and passions that can be defined by the adjective “napoletanità”. You can’t forget the Naples of taste, of flavours, of pizza either. One town and many facets, a versatile spirit and a gift for art and music: many artists became the reference points in this field together with its cultural landmarks.

On the top of that there is the San Carlo Theatre, founded in 1737, one of the best-known and famous in the world, the most ancient opera theatre in Europe that is still working and it’s among the biggest in Italy. The same goes for the handicraft; this town is a forge of ideas, the handicraft shops are places where research and tradition come together to produce masterpieces that are appreciated all over the world such as the pottery of Capodimonte, the nativity scenes (presepi) of San Gregorio Armeno, the musical instruments made by the violin-makers and the art of gold.

Regarding the art, Naples has a history of two-thousand-five-hundred years and it has been crossed by a number of different civilisations that have left a very rich heritage. A number of those civilisations are still present nowadays, hidden in the underground soil or mixed with the urban environment where modern and ancient features coexist in an harmonious way. It isn’t by chance that Unesco has awarded the most of the town’s monuments as “Common Heritage of Humankind”. The castles – Castel dell’Ovo, Castel Sant’Elmo and Castel Nuovo, better known as Maschio Angioino are famous all over the world -, the museums, the royal palaces, the art galleries, the theatres, a big number of fountains, squares and buildings that can accompany you along the lights and shadows of the centuries. Don’t forget the churches, around two hundred, that are each a different chapter of architecture, history and art, since many of them were rebuilt from Pagan temples and Catacombs.

A different type of attention must be focused on the “historical centre”, an open-air-museum: the Greek and Roman walls can’t be missed as well as the excavations of San Lorenzo Maggiore and the Cathedral, the Cardini and the “decumani” – that is the historical streets -, the Anticaglia and the group of Carminiello ai Mannesi. And other noble palaces too, the courtyards and the medieval frames. Naples is a true theatre of life and in order to be on its stage as a protagonist you must know the above mentioned “Spaccanapoli” where the heart of the town is beating with its ancient palaces and its historical icons. The spirit of the town is revealed there, without any tricks.

Luciana Francesca Rebonato

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