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Naples and its surroundings

Colourful, warm, exciting to the point of originated such a saying: "vedi Napoli e poi muori". You first have to see Naples, only then you can die. Founded more than 2500 years ago by Greek settlers, Naples achieved a great prestige very soon under the Roman empire. The fall of the empire changed the destiny of the city, as it suffered an endless series of foreign rules, whose traces can be easily found even now in its art, culture and language. Naples lies on a magnificent gulf overlooked by the volcano Vesuvius, sometimes called the exterminator.

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Our walk then should start from the sea front, from Piazza Municipio right at the back of the harbour. The Piazza is enclosed by the Palazzo del Municipio which incorporates the sixteenth century church of S. Giacomo degli Spagnoli, and by the Castel Nuovo better known as the Maschio Angioino.

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Not far from it is Piazza del Plebiscito, encircled by the neoclassical church of S. Francesco di Paola, and facing it is the Palazzo Reale.

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A few steps away is the Teatro San Carlo, a famous opera temple which dates back to 1737, and the galleria Umberto, the preferred gathering spot in the city. Leaving this area you might want to explore the old Naples, scattered with ancient churches like S. Domenico Maggiore, where S. Tommaso d'Aquino taught; S. Lorenzo Maggiore, with its cloister hosting a greek-roman archeological site; the Duomo, whose frescoed chapels (you might want to see the one displaying the Assunta by Perugino); and the church of S. Restituita, the first christian basilica in Naples with mosaics from the fifth century: By subway you should easily reach the Certosa di S. Martino up on the Vomero hill, the perfect expression of the baroque in Naples. It hosts the Museo Nazionale di S. Martino with paintings, sculptures, and the perculiar section dedicated to the cribs. From the front square you can also admire a beautiful view.

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At the north side of the city, placed in a beautiful garden is the Palazzo Reale di Capodimonte, once a royal residence, now the seat of the Galleria Nazionale. Before leaving the city you may want to take a walk on the riviera. Here, through the bank of S. Lucia harbour you reach the borgo marinaro (the fishermen village) and the Castel dell'Ovo, which dates back to the twelfth century and was built over the ruin of the house of the latin poet Lucullo. Proceding along the riviera di Chiaia you end up at the Parco Virgiliano where are the tombs of two of the greatest poets ever existed are: the latin Virgilio (author of the Eneide) and the italian Leopardi.

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You can say goodby to Naples from the via di Posillipo, the perfect place for a romantic walk. Posillipo in the greek language means "the one who leans pain", and very relaxing indeed is the fishermen village of Marechiaro sheer to the sea.



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