The fast beating heart of Naples

‘See Naples and then die’ – inspired words written by Goethe in his diary when he visited Italy in the 18th century. Those who have been, know that it doesn't get much better than this. The Centro Storico has changed little since those days: a maze of narrow streets packed with churches, small shops, cafés, pizzeria's and bars where it always seems to be time for drink.

Arts & Culture

Centro Storico: wandering encouraged

Take a look at the map of Naples’ historic city core, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and you will immediately notice the large number of crosses. The area of approximately two square kilometres concentrates an incredible number of churches. There is one on practically every street, centred around the 13th century Duomo. The cathedral's interior is much more opulent than the somewhat sober exterior suggests. Nearby stands the Pio Monte della Misericordia, which displays The Seven Works of Mercy, one of Caravaggio's masterpieces. But the city offers many other historic and cultural attractions, such as the medieval city gate Porta Capuana, an underground tunnel system from the Greek period and the Via San Gregorio Armeno, where nativity scene figurines are sold year-round. Don't even bother trying to navigate; it's pointless. Just let yourself get lost in the side streets of the Spaccanapoli, a long ribbon of streets that traverses the city centre and is as old as the road to Rome. This is the best way to stumble across a lovely square, a hidden courtyard or ancient fountain.

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