Posted by: debrakolkka | October 24, 2011

You really do need to see Naples before you die

We only hear bad things about Napoli, the Mafia, the rubbish and the corruption, but it is an incredible city, full of fascinating stuff. It may not have the elegance of Milan, but it has its own charm and is bursting with life.
I stayed near Spaccanapoli, which means Naples splitter. It is a 2 kilometre road that splits old Napoli in 2.



These photos were taken from Castel St Elmo which sits high above the city and offers amazing views.




The last photo is of Piazza Plebiscita, one of the most amazing squares I have seen in all of Italy. I’ll show you photos from the ground later, along with a closer view of the Galleria Umberto1, which is almost as big as Milan’s Galleria.


Napoli also has a modern section, but I didn’t go there.


Spaccanapoli is a pedestrian street. The entrance leaves you in no doubt.


The street is actually called Via Benedetto Croce, and here is where you will see Napoli at its most exciting best.



The street and narrow side streets are stuffed full of shops, incredible old apartment buildings, churches and lots of people. If you want a nativity scene, or a figurine, or a painted plate you have come to the right place.




This is Spaccanapoli from the street looking back towards St Elmo.


The area is crowded with life. There are shops selling things you didn’t think you needed, food markets and wonderful old buildings in various states of repair.






People live and work in these streets. They are impossibly narrow, but life goes on just as it does elsewhere.


Via Toledo runs at right angle to Spaccanapoli and leads down to the port. As you get closer to the bay it becomes more modern and elegant.


Galleria Umberto1 is enormous. It is very similar to the Galleria in Milan, but doesn’t have the beautiful shops. The space seemed a bit wasted to me.


Piazza Plebiscita is very grand. It was once used as a car park until the administration came to its senses.

The beautiful church in the Piazza is Naples’ answer to the Pantheon in Rome. The royal palace sits at the opposite side of the square and Galleria Umberto is nearby. This place is huge and most impressive.



From here you can see Castel St Elmo watching from above.


From here it is hop, skip and a jump, or in my case a short trudge to the beautiful Bay of Naples.




Naples has the largest historical centre in Europe and it is a Unesco World Heritage protected site, with good reason. Don’t leave Naples out of your Italian trip, it is wonderful. All those Italians who left here to live in other places in the world must have found life much less exciting than home.



  1. I love your photos as usual – and now I must go to Naples – thanks Debbie!! Sorry to miss you in Bagni – looked out for you, but we were really on the run at the end! XX

    • You would love Napoli, I’m sure.

  2. Spectacular Napoli! I love this city so much.
    Love your shots Deb.

    • It is an incredible place. I need to go back again soon.

  3. Thank you so much for this post. I LOVE Naples…and these pictures from overhead are absolutely great…

    • I didn’t really know what to expect of Naples, but it surpassed everything I could possibly think of.

  4. As you would know, a lot of the Italian migrants who came to Australian in the 50s came from Naples. It’s long been regarded as less glamorous than Rome or Milan, but you make it look great. Thanks again!

    • You couldn’t really call Naples glamourous, but it has so much to offer, I will return for sure.

  5. You have really captured the hustle and bustle of this wonderful city in your photos – simply wonderful – I love your posts 🙂

    • I don’t think anybody could capture Naples. Perhaps a video would be better.

  6. I wish I was there now.

    • Put it on your list, it is Italy on speed.

  7. Wow! Deb, this post is such a visual treat, thank you! We had neighbours from Naples years ago…

    • I have so much more to share on Naples, but it will take forever to sort through the photos.

  8. Beautiful photos. I love Naples.
    Something which may be of interest. The Nativity figurines (presepi) originated in the Kingdom of Naples. Bagni di Lucca makes quite a few of those, but the custom of having those displays at Christmas time comes from Naples.
    Even in Spain, it is quite a tradition which was imported by King Charles III of Spain (he was King of Naples as well), He brought the first set of figurines and ever since they are part of the Spanish culture.
    There is a magnificent Nativity set (we call it “belén”) which is put on display by the Royal Palace and which was made in Naples. It was brought by King Charles. Not all the figurines are the original ones; however, it is considered to be quite similar. You can have a look here:

    • I have dozens of pictures of Nativity scenes, there will be a post just on these at some stage. I found them fascinating.

  9. Spectacular pictures Deb. Many years since I have been there – Would love to go back.

  10. Love your photos as usual. You’ve made me very excited about our trip there next year. Can’t wait for the food photos!!

  11. I’ve never been, would like to go but my Sardinian hubby is not so fond of the area. Great photos.

  12. Ah, Naples, one of my favourite cities – so full of character, life and attitude! Oh and the best pizza 🙂 Wonderful photos.

  13. You’ve captured the character of Naples, an Aladdin’s Cave of shopping delights, and its amazing split in the middle of the city reminds me of a crack in the earth crowded with houses jostling for room. Incredible pictures, Deb! No wonder Sophia Loren’s heart remains in Naples. My husband is not fond of Naples, but I’d like to explore it more.

  14. Amazing-thank you so much-wonderful photos. I really want to go there.

  15. I really love this post and all those pictures show me how vibrant Napoli really is. I never put the city into the places that I want to visit in Italy, but now I have to consider to pay a visit to Napoli, for a good reason.

  16. You have sold me, Deb. The streets remind me of the insanely narrow ones we encountered in Hanoi. Incredible photos!

  17. see debra: because of you i will visit Naples. I love Sorrento and so close to each other. i just didnt like the train station but you can take the ferry from the Naples port to Sorrento, just in case you didn’t know that. i think you can take a ferry from Rome to Sorrento also. ciao and have a good day. beautiful fun photos. i cant wait to go.

  18. I haven’t been here and I really would like to. Those staircases are amazing and Via Benedetto Croce looks just the place to get lost in for awhile. Wonderful pictures Debra.

  19. In Napoli we ate pizza at Pizzeria Da Michele, the best pizza ever. We headed to Napoli only to eat at Da Michele, then we went to Pompei and Sorrento. so we didnt see alot of Naples. but the pics are very nice.

  20. Thank you for giving all this positive press to the city that has stolen my heart. Over the year through my Neapolitan husband I have learnt to love this place, its culture, food and people.

    • I loved my time in Napoli. I will definitely be going back soon.

  21. Hi,
    I’m PaniniGirl’s friend from college, who introduced me to your site. Have you seen John Turturro’s (yes, the actor) documentary film about Naples and its music called “Passione”? If not, it’s a must see!!

    • I will definitely look for that. Thank you.

  22. Naples is Italy at its authentic best. These photos brought back great memories of our trip there this summer.

  23. Yes, I agree with you dear Debra, I haven’t been there but my mom visited so many times and it was her best place in Italy. There are so many things that you can enjoy… as you told, full of fascinating stuff! Thank you, as always you captured an interesting and nice photographs. With my love, nia

    • I hope you go to Napoli one day too.

  24. I definitely would not replaced my tour in crowded Naples over the classy Milan. 😀

    • Milan is excellent too, but Naples is like nowhere else. I loved it!

  25. […] see more on amazing Napoli click here, here and here. GA_googleAddAttr("AdOpt", "1"); GA_googleAddAttr("Origin", "other"); […]

  26. […] to discover Naples for the first time and fell in love with it.   the heart of Napoli   Click here and here to see my adventures in Naples.   In S’Agata, near Sorrento I visited the […]

  27. […] here to see more on Napoli. Advertisement GA_googleAddAttr("AdOpt", "1"); GA_googleAddAttr("Origin", […]

  28. LOVE love LOVE Napoli! It is close to everything (well, almost) you want to see in Italy, it is ALIVE with history, Yummy yummy food at any time of day (unless they’re napping or there’s an important soccer game), gorgeous views, amazing feats of driving!

    • Napoli is the most incredible place. I LOVE it!

  29. It’s true Napoli doesn’t have the tourism that the cities in the north have, so much the better, because of that Napoli belongs to the Neapolitans, therefore the stores and markets aren’t in the tourists’ interest; restaurants aren’t exorbitant in price plus the food served is for the likes of the city’s inhabitants.
    Napoli shares with Palermo a wondrous street life that must be seen to be believed: animated conversation, the scents of bakeries, fry shops, street food, restaurant, and of course pizzerias that serve the BEST PIZZA IN THE WORLD!!! I’ve live in Napoli twice and have never encountered the troubles tourists a warned about.

    • I love Naples too. I didn’t feel unsafe there and mostly I have been there alone. I lived near Sorrento when I was young and this is where my love of Italy started.
      I think the post was really a comment on all of Italy. Italians need to work together to improve things in their country and try to get a government that works in the interest of the people instead of themselves.

Leave a Reply


%d bloggers like this: