Hidden beneath the asphalt, a citadel almost as old as the same Naples. Secret tunnels, catacombs, ancient, amphitheaters, erotic art and more from a course without mysteries beneath the troubled streets of the city, the birthplace of San Genaro
The winding narrow streets of Naples resonate with the sounds of impatient horns, barking dogs and the roar of motor scooters. Opulent palaces, baroque churches and elegant living with a graffiti-covered landscape, and people in cafes keep track of their belongings while chatting or eating a delicious pizza specialty, the “sfogliatelle. (The latter a super delicious cake) under the imposing Mount Vesuvius, the city gives the feeling of chaos, congestion and frenetic activity.
Naples is built layer upon layer of volcanic rock and ash compact, which the Italians called tufa. Porous and easy to handle, was used by the Greeks from around 470 BC, when they built their Neapolis (new town) that eventually was called Napoli. Later, the Romans used tufa quarries to build a complex system of underground aqueducts. The early Christians dug caves to worship and bury their dead. Neapolitans from different centuries used their caves in landfills. Only the cholera epidemic of the mid-1880s closed the underground city, but in World War II was repeatedly used as a refuge from the constant bombardment that decimated the area.
Naples Most houses in her womb a huge network of tunnels and underground galleries, and down there (“is back in time”) is as easy as walking down stairs or bend in a corner. Guided tours help tourists to explore these places, and a few, where excavations are part of museums and churches, can be visited individually.
This story is partially exposed and layered Naples gives an air of mystery and obsession. And there is an underground city as well as the literal figurative: the Camorra crime network represents the use of the term, but the famous Archaeological Museum illustrates another type of concealment. His Cabinet Secret, long maintained and even locked out of reach of children unaccompanied by an adult, has a collection of ancient erotic objects, many excavated from the ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum, which were initially considered obscene to be brought to public view.
The Associazione Libera travel agency offers tours underground sottosuolo Escursionisti leaving two or three times a week from the popular Bar Gambrinus in Piazza Trieste e Trento. On our visit we chose to hire Napoli Sotterranea, organized several day trips ninety minutes, starting from the historical heart of the city.
Walking through these interconnected passages beneath the bustling streets of Naples, you can see aqueducts that had been used for 23 centuries and a low about 120 steps up air raid shelters. In 1941, cleaned and dried more than 400 km of tunnels and underground channels, sealed most of the wells, built stairs and did the wiring. Neapolitans waiting in shelters while the bombs fell on the city left testimonies of their days and weeks of tension: drawings on the walls of bombs and planes, the word aiuto (help).
Descend to the depths
Also for this part of town do not miss the outstanding Greco-Roman ruins beneath the eighteenth century cloister of San Lorenzo Maggiore. From there you can walk to the church of Santa Chiara, famous for its elegant majolica cloister, but also for its archeological ruins discovered after World War II, including Roman baths, a sauna area and parts of an aqueduct . Tickets allow newly constructed wooden walk around the place, and the dog tags are written in four languages.
You can also go to the catacombs of San Gennaro, the patron saint of Naples, starting behind the church of the Mother of Buon Consiglio. Then, in la Sanita one can know the Catacombs of San Gaudioso (bearing the name of an African bishop who arrived in Naples in the year 439).
Another place to see is the Secret Cabinet erotic collection in the Archaeological Museum. This room is open since 2000, but remain in chains and heavy locks iron gates, near a sign saying that children under 14 must enter accompanied by an adult. The collection is rich and graphic. For the ancient Greeks and Romans, the phallus was a symbol of prosperity, fertility and good luck, and was represented in statues and oil lamps, vases and paintings in, even outside the shops. The representations of heterosexual and homosexual activities were part of the decoration of houses and gardens, and the exhibition includes paintings erotic mythological scenes, marble sculptures of nymphs and satyrs, and erotic images of gardens, toilets and brothels.
Where to sleep?
- Decumani Hotel de Charme (Via San Giovanni Maggiore Pignatelli 15, is at the heart of the city, was the eighteenth-century palace of the last bishop of the Bourbon kingdom of Naples. The double rooms start at 99 euros.
- Hotel San Francesco al Monte (corso Vittorio Emanuele 328, overlooking the bay of Naples, is a sixteenth century convent that was renovated. The doubles start at 150 euros.
Where to eat?
- For the Neapolitans love to say that they invented pizza, but do not ask for serving. One favorite, the Margherita: tomato, mozzarella and basil, with the three colors of the Italian flag, was created in honor of the visit of Queen Margaret of Spain in 1889. Try one in Lombardi (via Benedetto Croce 59, with another regional specialty, and vongole cozze linguine with tiny clams enough. A lunch for two costs 28 euros.
- Ciro a Santa Brigida (via Santa Brigida 71-73, serves excellent pizza to Ciro (fungi, Vesuvian tomatoes, mozzarella, shrimp and garlic) and linguine Fra Diavolo, loaded with shrimp, mussels and clams. Lunch for two with a glass of wine is 33 euros.
- La Cantina di Triunfo (via Riviera di Chiaia 64, restaurant and wine bar. Dinner for two with soup, pasta, roast pork with chestnuts and wine costs about 80 euros.
- Taverna dell’Arte in the path to the church of San Giovanni Maggiore Mezzocannone from the street in the historic center, call (081) 552-7558. It is not easy to find, but worth the effort. Try anything that comes with Vesuvian tomatoes. Dinner for two with wine costs about 83 euros.