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Campania - Places to Visit - Naples (Napoli)

ying on the Gulf of Naples, the chief city stretches for some 10 km. from the outlying slopes of Campi Flegrei to Vesuvius, in one of the most outstanding scenic settings in the Mediterranean.

Napoli in Campania

Already a Greek colony in the 6th-5th century BC., known as Partenope, later Neapolis, it was fully Romanized during the 4th century BC. and became the principal town in Campania.

After the fall of the Empire, it submitted to the Goths, then to Byzantium, until 1139, when it was conquered by the Normans led by Ruggero II.

With the rise of the House of Anjou, it became the capital of the Kingdom of Naples in 1266, and in 1442 passed to the Aragons (Alphonse I, King of the Two Sicilies), then to the Spanish in 1504, becoming of increasing economic, cultural and artistic importance.

The Kingdom remained a Hapsburg possession from 1707 till 1734, the year of the start of Bourbon domination which lasted, except during the Republican period (1799) and rule by Murat (1806-1815), until the unification of southern Italy with the rest of the country in 1860.

Over the centuries, the city has spread from its original nucleus beside the Pizzofalcone promontory, on an orthogonal layout, along the narrow littoral belt and the high ground behind, exploiting to the full every piece of land suitable for building.

The congestion of buildings became worse after 1566, when the city was surrounded by walls, and more so in the present century, with the construction of industrial factories.

It is not easy to list in so little space all the attractive sights of Naples. Those of exceptional interest include Castel Nuovo or Maschio Angioino (13th century), a majestic trapezoidal structure and a symbol of Naples, embellished by the monumental Arch of Triumph (15th century); Palazzo Reale (17th-18th century, neoclassical), the Duomo (13th century, originally Gothic) and the Baroque chapel of S. Gennaro, the city's greatly venerated patron saint; S. Lorenzo Maggiore church (13th century, Gothic-Provenal), the Certosa di S. Martino (16th-17th century, Baroque, built over a preexisting building), the church of S. Chiara (14th century, Gothic-Provenal) with the fine adjacent cloisters of the Clarissa nuns; the church of S. Domenico Maggiore (13th-14th century), the S. Gennaro catacombs (2nd century, with interesting old painted ornamentation); Castel Capuano (founded by the Normans, 12th century, now the Law Courts); Palazzo Gravina and Palazzo Cuomo (Renaissance).

Other sights include those typical of the city's classical structure: central and thronged Via Toledo, built by the Spanish in the 16th century, scenic Via Caracciolo, with the delightful Mar gellina cove; this is the beginning of the Via Posillipo, which winds through the parks of ornate villas and leads to the pretty seaside village of Marechiaro, high above the sea, and the beautiful Parco di Capodimonte round the Royal Palace that bears its name, dominating the whole Gulf of Naples.

Commerce is the great mainstay of the city's economy, though often disorganized, and port activities centre on what is one of Italy's most important passenger ports.

The industrial sector is well developed and extends to a number of suburban centres. Metalworking, engineering, chemicals, petrochemicals, shipbuilding, food (pasta, food processing) and construction materials (cement) are the largest industries, but textiles, footwear, leatherworking and garment manufacturing are organized on a semi-craft scale.

Naples is, however, unable to reduce unemployment, which is the cause of serious problems related to crime, the `black economy' and the emargination of young people.

Napoli in Campania

Events: Festa di S. Gennaro (the blood miracle, first Saturday in May, 19 september), Festa di Piedigrotta (8 september), Festa della Madonna dell'Arco (Easter Monday), Festa di S. Vincenzo (1st July).

Famous People: Salvatore di Giacomo (poet, 1860-1934), Lorenzo Bernini (sculptor and architect, 1598-1680), Gaetano Filangieri (philosopher, 1752-1788), Enrico De Nicola (politician, 1877-1959), Enrico Caruso (opera singer, 1873-1921), Domenico Scarlatti (composer, 1685-1757), Giovan Battista Vico (philosopher, 1688-1744), Eduardo De Filippo (actor and playwright, 1900-1984), Luigi Vanvitelli (architect, 1700-1773).

Cultural Institutions: the University, Accademia di Belle Arti, Conservatory, Vittorio Emanuele National Library, National Archeological Museum (finds from Pompeii and Herculaneum, Roman art and sculpture), Museo e Gallerie di Capodimonte (museum and art), Museo Nazionale della Ceramica (pottery), Museo Filangieri, Museo Nazionale di S. Martino, Museo di Mineralogia, Aquarium, Botanic Gardens.

In the Province: Torre del Greco (Coral Museum), Nola (Antiquarium), Sorrento (Museo `Correale di Terranova'), Torre Annunziata, Portici (Botanic Gardens), Pozzuoli, Casoria, Vico Equense, Massa Lubrense, Ischia, Capri, Pompeii (Museo Vesuviano).

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