A bustling city located on the southern coast of Italy, Naples is famous for its seaside location and proximity to islands Capri and Ischia. It is the ideal summer vacation spot, from hiking mountainous trails to exploring ancient towns. Food culture is also prominent here, so be sure to enjoy the refreshing gelato and distinct wines.
What Is Naples Italy Known For?
Naples is known for its convenient funiculars, vibrant gastronomic scene, and historical landmarks such as Mount Vesuvius, Pompeii, and Catacombs. Although it was founded relatively recently, its foundations date back to Ancient Greece, meaning the city is rooted in traditions. With this in mind, Naples is famous for its lively festivals and energetic bars, therefore offering a great mix of old and contemporary.
History, Culture, And Traditions Naples Is Famous For
Ancient Greek Foundations
One of the coolest facts about Italians is that their country is one of the youngest in Europe, founded in 1861. Despite this, the history dates back to Ancient Greece, in 8BC, when Naples was established.
Originally, it was named Parthenope, after the Siren who wrote melodies for Odysseus and threw herself into the sea when he disliked them. Two centuries later the city was renamed to Neapolis, meaning a new city. This allowed a reinvention, with more modern infrastructure and a better way of life.
San Gennaro Festival
San Gennaro Festival is a huge festivity every year on September 19th. It is an important festival Naples is famous for throwing, dedicated to its patron saint, Saint Januarius. He is also the patron saint of Little Italy in New York, where this festival is also held but on a smaller scale.
The main event is the religious procession, during which an ampule is collected from The Royal Chapel of the Treasure of St. Januarius. Subsequently, there is a service held there, in which there are hymns and readings. After this, the jubilation begins, such as parades, performances, and lastly a feast.
If you visit Naples, you will inevitably be blown away by the food, as it is one of the cities with the most Michelin stars. After all, what is Naples famous for if not its wide array of authentic dishes? A range of famous dishes were invented here, from margarita pizza to caprese salad.
It is worth joining the food tours in Naples; not only can you try different iconic dishes in the region, but there are even activities where you can learn to make traditional Italian foods! For example, the Authentic Italian Pizza-Making Workshop teaches you old techniques, and the best local products, and finally gifts you a pizza diploma.
A funicular is essentially a railway system that is frequently used on steep inclines to transport passengers up hills. Because Naples is famous for having a mountainous terrain, it can be difficult to travel around, hence why funiculars are a common public transport.
There are four main funiculars in Naples: Chiaia, Montesanto, Centrale, and Mergellina. The first, Chiaia, was built in the late 1880s. Following its popularity, more were constructed.
Whilst they were invented for transport, some have remarkable views. For example, Montesanto can take you to Castel Sant’Elmo, with beautiful views of Vomero Hill along the way.
One of the scary facts about Naples is that the region is often considered to have the highest volcanic risk in the world. This means that it is in danger of facing the wrath of a volcano eruption since it is near three active volcanoes.
The most popular volcano that Naples is famous for is Vesuvius, which last erupted in 1944. However, its most disastrous eruption was in 79 AD, when it destroyed Pompeii with an estimated 16,000 person death toll.
A lesser-known volcano is Campi Flegrei in the west of Naples. Last erupting in the 16th century, the supervolcano is becoming weaker as time goes on. It is predicted to cause mass destruction such as tsunamis if it explodes.
The Gulf of Naples, or Naples Bay, is home to many cities apart from Naples. One of the most famous cities is Pompei, where you can explore an immense archaeological site with an array of ruins.
Sorrento is a hilly town with the perfect view of the surrounding Tyrrhenian Sea, overlooking the island of Capri. It is known for its narrow streets and adoration for lemons. With its prime location, you can do a Sorrento, Positano, and Amalfi Tour, exploring the beautiful coast and its beaches.
Districts And Areas Naples Is Known For
Pompeii is a large archaeological site that was once an ancient city. In the year 79 AD, the dangerous volcano Mount Vesuvius erupted and wiped out both Pompeii and Herculaneum. Around 16,000 people died, and the infrastructure was completely ruined.
Hop on the Pompeii Ruins And Mount Vesuvius Tour to explore the remains of the ruined city with an insightful guide. There are many impressive structures, such as baths and a theatre, showing how civilized the ancient Greeks were.
You can even walk to the edge of the crater of Mount Vesuvius, where the fatal event began.
Chiaia in Naples is famous for being a wealthy neighborhood. If you are looking for designer stores, luxury boutiques, and classy cafes, this is the place to be. Tailoring is what the area is best known for, especially vintage clothing.
When the weather is pleasant it is worth visiting Villa Comunale, an 18th-century park located on the seaside. It is complete with a long promenade, as well as a fountain, aquarium, and children’s playground.
The historic neighborhood, Centro Storico, contains some of the oldest and most important landmarks in Naples.
Located in Centro Storico is the Cathedral of Naples, which contains the first patron saint’s vial of blood. Similarly, it is known for its churches, such as the stony 15th century Gesù Nuovo.
Also close by is the Royal Palace of Caserta, ordered by King Charles of Bourbon, which has been home to many royals of Italy.
Vomero is a scenic town on a hill, surrounded by tranquil nature. It has the charm that Naples is famous for, yet it is quieter than the center. This is perfect for a calm day out, exploring the attractions in a less busy setting.
The Castel Sant’Elmo is the most popular landmark in Vomero, usually accessed by a funicular as it is found at the top of the hill. Because of this, the 14th-century fortification offers some of the best views in the city, overlooking the sea.
Quartieri Spagnoli is the Spanish Quarter of Naples. Originating in the 16th century when the city was dominated by the Spanish Empire, it has a rich cultural history.
One of the oldest landmarks is the Church of Santa Maria degli Angeli, founded in 1610. Inside is a series of art by famous painters like Giordano, whilst the outside is a classic example of baroque architecture.
Furthermore, this neighborhood is renowned for its food and atmosphere. There is a range of traditional restaurants serving authentic cuisine, as well as cocktail bars and clubs.
Landmarks And Architecture Naples Is Famous For
Vesuvio National Park
Vesuvio National Park is a vast nature space dominating almost 8,500 hectares. It has 11 trails, the main one called The Gran Cono, alongside the rim of the legendary Mount Vesuvius crater. Here, you can find excavations, museums, and old buildings.
Even though the volcano is one of the few currently active volcanoes in Europe, there are many tours due to the beautiful scenery. Overlooking Pompeii and Herculaneum, as well as functioning cities Sorrento and Capri, you will be left in awe. Furthermore, some of the best wine tours in Naples also combine in visit to Pompeii and Mt. Vesuvius.
Catacombs Of San Gennaro
In Naples, there is an underground burial ground called the Catacombs of San Gennaro. Built in the 2nd century, it took years for them to be fully established. They are the oldest Christian cemetery in the city, originally constructed as a grave for an affluent family.
The Catacombs are dedicated to San Gennaro, or Saint Januarius as he is known in English. He was the first patron saint of Naples, who was executed for professing his faith by a Roman emperor. His remains are found in the Naples Cathedral, where his blood can be found.
Apart from being a burial site for several bishops, you can take part in the Catacombs Tour to view the historic paintings and basilicas.
Ovo Castle is a 12th-century fortification established by the Normans who conquered the city in a brutal attack. Additionally, it is the oldest castle in Naples.
Previously the building was a monastery, and before that, it was also a castle. As a result, the building has had an arduous past of conflict as well as wars that Naples is famous for historically.
The name of this impressive Italian castle directly translates to Egg Castle, named after a Medieval magician called Virgil who was known for predicting the future. Legend states that he hid the egg on the grounds to make the building and its inhabitants prosperous.
Food Naples Is Known For
Arguably the best Italian food is spaghetti, not only for its buttery texture but because of the variety of pasta dishes derived from it.
In Naples, the most popular is spaghetti alla puttanesca, a spicy dish with a controversial name. Invented in Quartieri Spagnoli in a brothel, this dish was quickly cooked up between customers. It is made with anchovies, capers, and chili.
Another famous dish in Naples is spaghetti alla vongole, made with clams and a creamy, authentic white wine sauce.
Pastiera, otherwise known as Neapolitan tart, is a decadent dessert that Naples is famous for inventing in the 1600s.
The pastry base is filled with ricotta cheese and orange blossom, as well as fruits like lemon or berries. It is topped with pastry in a criss-cross pattern and sprinkled with powdered sugar. Overall, the dessert is not only tasty but also stunning to look at.
Usually, the delicious sweet treat is reserved for Easter celebrations, created by nuns for the special event.
As its name suggests Caprese salad was invented in Capri, an island in the Tyrrhenian Sea belonging to Naples. The refreshing dish is perfect during the summer months, as it keeps you energized without getting bloated. It is the ideal light lunch to be enjoyed in the narrow streets that Naples is famous for.
The simple salad is traditionally made with sliced heirloom tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella, arranged neatly and topped with basil. With a dash of olive oil and salt, this creates an affordable yet scrumptious dish. Often, it is paired with toasted bread or fish.
Ragu is a hearty sauce made with meat, usually beef and pork. It is similar to Bolognese but uses fewer vegetables. The whole chunks of meat create a different texture. Along with tomatoes, herbs, and white wine, the sauce is slowly simmered for optimal taste.
Pasta is a common dish to eat with ragu sauce, often for dinner. Although Neapolitan ragu takes longer to prepare than the average meal, it is worth it for the flavors.
The Naples Street Food Tour is a great way to include all traditional Italian favorites, from ragu to sfogliatelle. Beginning in central Naples, you can make your way through the streets, sampling great food and wine.
Famous People From Naples
One of the biggest actors that is very famous in Italy and also the world is Sophia Loren. She is a Hollywood actress who starred in several successful movies, as well as being a singer. Whilst her acting is mainly in English, her discography is mostly Italian.
Perhaps the most famous movie about Naples is Loren’s. It Started In Naples is a romantic comedy that featured her alongside fellow actor Clark Gable, famously his last movie. For this, she was nominated for a Golden Globe award.
The best footballer that Naples is famous for is Fabio Cannavaro. The former player is regarded as the best defender of all time because of the multiple awards he has won. This includes the FIFA Player of the Year in 2006, and the prestigious Ballon d’Or in the same year.
Cannavaro was discovered in Naples, his birthplace and hometown. This is where footballers like Maradonna also played, and he had the chance to observe them. In addition to playing for the national team and Italian clubs like Napoli and Juventus, Cannavaro was also signed by Real Madrid.
Discovering More Things Naples Is Known For
As a vibrant and outgoing city, these are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to things Naples is famous for.
Some of the most obvious attractions include historical landmarks which have been maintained for centuries and are the key to understanding Naples. There is a range of architectural styles as well as eras to marvel at.
On the other hand, Naples is also known for its natural charm and captivating scenery. An advantage is its steep terrain, allowing you to climb up and soak in panoramic views of the enticing surroundings.