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Naples Travel guide

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The largest city of Campania, capital of the province and the region, Naples is the third most populated city in Italy (after Rome and Milan), with over a million inhabitants, and is the most important industrial centre and trading port for the South. It is situated halfway down the Tyrrenia coast, at the innermost point of the Bay of Naples, between Vesuvius and the Phlegrean Fields.
Among the major industries are metalworking, oil refineries, mechanics (naval and railroad), electricity and food producing. The artistic crafting of coral and tortoise shell flourishes.

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Castel Nuovo (New Castle)
To the south of the Piazza del Municipio (City Hall) rises the Castel Nuovo, better known as Maschio Angevin, because it was built in the late thirteenth century by Charles I of Anjou. It was totally reconstructed under Alfonso of Aragon in the fifteenth century, by Tuscan and Catalan artists. The building, in the form of a trapezoid, is reinforced at the corners by imposing cylindrical towers with battleworks. The Triumphal Arch in front of the entrance, built in 1443 to commemorate the arrival in Naples of Alfonso I of Aragon, is formed by two superimposed arches, surmounted by ornate spaces and flanked by double columns. The monumental triumphal relief of Alfonso I and the statues of the four cardinal virtues are particularly noteworthy. Under the lower arch is a doorway leading into the vestibule and then into the courtyard, surmounted by a relief of the Coronation of Ferdinand I. In the courtyard one finds the Room of the Barons, the Palatine Chapel and the Apartment of the Viceroys.

Church of San Domenico Maggiore
This church, built in the fourteenth century, though often rebuilt in successive centuries, still conserves some original parts in marble. Within, gothic arches divide it into three naves, containing paintings and sculptures from the thirteenth to sixteenth century. In the large Chapel of the Crucifix, one finds a tablet with the Deposition of Christ, attributed to Colantonio, and a thirteenth-century crucifix that (according to popular tradition) spoke to Saint Thomas. Saint Thomas of Aquinas taught in the convent annex. His students included Giovanni Pontano and Giordano Bruno.

Church of San Giovanni of Carbonara
The Church of San Giovanni of Carbonara, built in the second half of the fourteenth century, was rebuilt in the fifteenth century by order of King Ladislao and later enlarged in the first half of the eighteenth century. The single nave interior houses the tomb of Gianni Caracciolo, by Marco and Andrea da Firenze, the "Miroballo," by Iacopo della Pila, and the monument to King Ladislao, built by Andrea da Firenze in 1428. Behind this monument is the Caracciolo del Sole Chapel, frescoed in the fifteenth century by Perrinetto Benevento and Leonardo da Besozzo. To the left of the presbytery is the Caracciolo di Vico Chapel, decorated with sixteenth-century sculptures.

Church of San Lorenzo Maggiore
The church of San Lorenzo Maggiore, one of the largest testimonies to the Gothic in Naples, built at the end of the thirteenth century but rebuilt many times in successive centuries, is located in Piazza San Gaetano. The eighteenth-century facade opens onto a beautiful central doorway, originally from the ancient church. To the right is the entrance to the fifteenth-century convent and a robust sixteenth-century bell tower. The interior presents a nave flanked by open chapels with gothic arches, a large transept and a polygonal apse with two rows of arches. Here one finds various tombs and sculptures attributed to Baboccio, to G. da Nola and to Tino di Camaino. From the church one can enter the eighteenth-century convent cloister, leading to the archaeological excavations.

Certosa di San Martino
The Certosa of San Martino rises in a panoramic position above an outcropping of the Vomero hill. The architects Dosio and Fanzago who, together with many decorators, made it one of the most distinguished examples of Neapolitan baroque rebuilt this fourteenth-century convent between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Of particular interest is the late sixteenth-century church with its atrium from the fourteenth century, containing many paintings, frescoes, and seventeenth-century sculptures.

Church of Sant Anna dei Lombardi
In Piazza Monteoliveto one faces the Church of Sant' Anna Lombardi, built in the fifteenth century and transformed in the seventeenth century by Gennaro Sacco. The facade is preceded by an atrium in gothic-Catalan style. The interior, a single nave, holds many important Renaissance works. Of particular interest is the marble altar by Benedetto da Maiano, as well as the monument of Mary of Aragon and the "Nativity and Saints," both by Antonio Rossellino.

Church of Santa Chiara
The Church of Santa Chiara, in via Croce next to the monastery, was built in the first half of the fourteenth century. Damaged during the bombardments of the Second World War, it was rebuilt respecting its gothic-Provençal architectonic forms. The facade, decorated with gothic rose windows, opens onto a beautiful doorway situated under the three-arched atrium that precedes it. The interior holds noteworthy works of art including the fourteenth-century sculpture by A. Baboccio, Tino di Camaino, G. and P. Bertini. From the choir one reaches the cloisters, a work of the fourteenth century converted into a garden in the eighteenth century.

Church of Santa Maria Donnaregina
This church was built from two earlier religious buildings. The baroque one dates from 1649, with an interior in marble polychrome and frescoes by F. Solimena; the other is from the fourteenth century and was built according to the wishes of Maria of Hungary, wife of Charles II of Anjou. One of the most beautiful medieval churches in Naples, it was recently restored to its original Franciscan gothic form. The interior with three naves contains frescoes from the Giotto School and a monument to Queen Maria of Hungary, completed in 1326 by Tino di Camaino and Galiardo Primario.

Cuomo Palace
The Renaissance Cuomo Palace is located in via del Duomo. It was built between 1464 and 1490, perhaps according to the plans of Giuliano da Maiano. It now holds the Civic Filangieri Museum, a collection of Roman art, Italian and Spanish arms and armaments from the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries, sculptures, paintings, an ivory table from the eighteenth-century Kingdom of Naples, ceramics and porcelains from Europe and the East, lacework and embroidery.

St. Francis of Paola
Behind the Basilica extends the district of Pizzofalcone, with buildings rising even right at the back of the dome. Pizzofalcone (which we'll speak about in one following chapter) occupies the most ancient area of the city, since here had been the first settlement of Ancient Greek colonists coming from Cuma.

The Duomo was built at the end of the thirteenth century on the site of an ancient paleo-Christian basilica, but was rebuilt many times in the centuries to follow. The pseudo-gothic facade is a renovation from the beginning of this century, as are the fifteenth-century doorways. A «Madonna with Child» by Tino di Camaino enriches the central doorway. The interior, divided into three naves with 110 Oriental and African granite columns, contains canvasses by Luca Giordano, Stefano Poggi and Aniello Falcone, and sculptures by Domenico Fontana, Lorenzo Vaccaro and Girolamo d'Auria. Of particular value is the Chapel of San Gennaro, from the seventeenth century, which was built after a vote was taken by the citizens during the terrible plague of the sixteenth century. This chapel conserves frescoes by Domenichino and sculptures by the Finelli. Also worth visiting is the Chapel of Santa Restituta, in the left nave. Originally a Christian basilica of the fourth century, it was rebuilt after the 1688 earthquake by Arcangelo Guglielmelli. To the back of the right nave is the Baptistery, originally from the fifth century, built on a square plan and containing precious mosaics.

Museum and National Gallery of Capodimonte
The Royal Palace of Capodimonte is an eighteenth-century construction built according to the orders of King Charles of Bourbon. The gatherings of art housed here include: on the first floor, the Nineteenth-Century Hall, the historic apartment and the museum; and on the second floor, the National Gallery, containing works by Simone Martini, Masaccio, Perugino, Raphael, Botticelli, Mantegna, Michelangelo, Rosso Fiorentino and other noted artists. The Nineteenth-Century Hall displays sculptures and paintings prevalently from the Neapolitan School, while in the Museum one finds nineteenth-century European paintings, gatherings of porcelain and majolica, tapestries, drawings and prints.

National Archaeological Museum
The National Archaeological Museum, one of the most important in the world, was founded in the eighteenth century by Charles of Bourbon, who transferred here the Farnese collection that he had in inherited as well as works gathered from Herculaneum, Stabia, Cuma and Pompeii. These include rich collections of sculptures, paintings, mosaics, bronzes, vases and varied objects.

Porta Capuana (Capuana Gate)
Built in 1484 according to the plans of Giuliano da Maiano, Porta Capuana stands between two enormous towers of the Aragon enclosure. It is one of the most important Renaissance monuments of Naples.

Royal Palace
D. Fontana built the Royal Palace at the beginning of the seventeenth century. It stands alongside the Piazza del Plebiscito, one of the most harmonious and monumental piazzas of Naples. The palace was enlarged in the second half of the eighteenth century and restored in the nineteenth century. Residence of the Bourbons and occasionally of Italian kings, it is the present headquarters of the National Library. It presents an imposing facade with its ground-level doorway and arches and, below, niches containing statues of figures who played important roles during the Kingdom of Naples. Within the internal courtyard is the entrance to the historical apartment. In the atrium one finds the fifteenth-century bronze doorway of G. Monaco, divided into six reliefs celebrating the victory of Ferdinand I over Giovanni of Anjou. To the right of the grand stairway of honour is the eighteenth-century Theatre of the Court, planned by F. Fuga.

Via di Posillipo
Begun in 1812 by Gioacchino Murat and completed in 1823, this is a beautiful panoramic street extending from Mergellina to the promontory of Posillipo. Along the way are the unfinished seventeenth-century Palace of Donna Anna, an Egyptian-style votive altar for those who fell for the country, and the nineteenth-century Church of Santa Maria di Bellavista.

Villa Comunale
Via Caracciolo, the marvelous seafront street of Naples, is flanked for more than a kilometre by the public gardens of the Villa Comunale, rich in palms, holm-oaks, pines and eucalyptus, and decorated with fountains, kiosks and statues. Within the grounds are the aquarium and the courts of the Naples Tennis Club.

Villa Floridiana
A neoclassical villa in the style of Pompeii, overlooking the Bay of Naples and Capri, the Villa Floridiana was built between 1817 and 1819 according to the plans of A. Niccolini. Fernando I gave it to his wife Lucia Partanna, duchess of Floridia. The park is rich in camellias. At the far end stands a small palace containing the National Ceramics Museum, a collection of European and Oriental porcelain and majolica

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