Naples, magical port city

Naples, magical port city

The southern Italian city of Naples, in the region of Campania, has the largest historical center in Europe and is a concentration of monuments ranging from Roman times to the Bourbon Empire. The old town of Naples is a mixture of history, art, culture and traditions. A city that should not be understood, but lived. Lose yourself in the noisy and colorful streets, discover the typical stores and let yourself be enveloped by the unique atmosphere of the historic center, which since 1995 has been part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site part of the city since 1995.

The visit to Naples can start directly in the historic center: a maze of colorful and lively alleys, but also rich in history and tradition. Here are some of the most famous and popular streets of the city, such as Via dei Tribunali, which is one of the main arteries of the city center and is full of pastry stores, restaurants and local craft stores, or Via San Gregorio Armeno, better known as the “Via dei Presepi”, where all year round. Christmas cribs and figurines of popular culture, real small works of art, are sold.
Via Toledo is one of the main streets of the city, a street teeming with people at all times of the day and night. Full of stores, cafes, magnificent noble palaces and beautiful squares. A walk here is a must when visiting Naples, especially if you want to go shopping. But it is also an opportunity to visit one of the most famous metro stations in the world. In fact, the Toledo metro station was designed by Spanish architect Óscar Tusquets and inaugurated in 2012. According to the English newspaper The Daily Telegraph and CNN, it is the most beautiful metro station in Europe. Along the escalators you will be enchanted by an impressive play of lights and unexpected shapes.

Spaccanapoli, on the other hand, is the area that cuts Naples in two. It is very close to the historical center and in this area there are amazing squares, monuments and old churches

Among the most important monuments to visit in Naples is certainly the Cathedral of “San Gennaro”. It is a true masterpiece. Inside are the Basilica of Santa Restituta, the Baptistery of San Giovanni in Fonte, the Chapel and the Museum of the Treasure of San Gennaro. A very important date for Neapolitans is September 19, when San Gennaro, the patron saint of the city, is celebrated. Tradition says that on September 19 the blood of the patron saint liquefies. If the blood melts quickly, it is a good omen for the city, otherwise it means that it will be a difficult year.

Toledo Metro Station, Naples, Napoli, Campania, Italy
The metro station Toledo in the center of Napoli.Italy. (photo © Papanikos / Shutterstock.com)
Spaccanapoli, Historical Center, Naples, Italy
The narrow street “Spaccanapoli” and the colorful old buildings in the historic center of Naples, Italy, Napoli. (photo © / poludziber / Shutterstock.com)

The monumental complex of Santa Chiara, also known as “The Cloisters of Santa Chiara”, is a stop not to be missed when touring Naples. The complex is a true oasis of calm, away from the hustle and bustle of the city, where you can breathe a relaxed atmosphere. To admire the charming garden with colorful majolica columns and porticoes with frescoes from the seventeenth century. Built in 1310 at the behest of King Robert of Anjou, the complex also houses a church with a plain facade in which an ancient rose window is set.

In the area of “Spaccanapoli”, just in front of the monumental complex of Santa Chiara, in Piazza del Gesù, stands one of the most elegant churches in Naples: the Church of Gesù Nuovo, built at the end of the XVI century. Besides the magnificent church, in Piazza del Gesù there are also beautiful noble palaces, such as Palazzo Pignatelli di Monteleone, built in the XVII century, and Palazzo Pandola. However, in the center of the square stands the majestic obelisk of the Immaculate Conception. Both the square and the church are always very popular with Neapolitans and tourists.

Another monument not to be missed is Sant’Elmo Castle, which is the highest expression of XVI century military architecture built to defend Naples. From its large terrace you have a wonderful view of Naples, Vesuvius and the Gulf. Inside the castle you can visit the Museum of the Neapolitan Novecento and a small church dedicated to Sant’Erasmo.

The National Museum of Capodimonte is housed in the palace of the same name. The museum houses a contemporary art gallery, an ancient art gallery and a royal apartment and is spread over three floors. Inside there are some works by important artists such as Michelangelo, Raphael, Botticelli, Bellini and Caravaggio.

On the top floor is the Modern Art Gallery with a pop version of Vesuvius in eruption created by Andy Warhol. The building is surrounded by a large park.

Naples Cathedral, Santa Maria Assunta, Cathedral of San Gennaro, Naples, Campania, Italy
Naples Cathedral, Santa Maria Assunta or Cathedral of San Gennaro in Naples, Campania, Italy. (photo © Mitzo / Shutterstock.com)
Piazza del Plebiscito, Naples, Italy
View of Piazza del Plebiscito, Napoli, Italy. (photo © Shutterstock.com)

However, one cannot say that one has visited Naples without seeing the majestic Plebiscito Square, one of the symbols of the city. Located at the end of Via Toledo, it is a very large square, so much so that it is considered one of the largest squares in Italy. Framed by an imposing colonnade, here you overlook the Palazzo della Prefettura, the Palazzo Salerno, the Palazzo Reale and the beautiful Basilica of San Francesco di Paola. The latter is considered one of the most important examples of Italian neoclassical architecture and was built in the XIX century at the behest of King Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies. Today this important square is a meeting place for citizens and tourists and a venue for events, concerts and political demonstrations.

Not to be missed is a visit to the Chapel of San Severo to admire the wonderful masterpiece “Il Cristo Velato” (The Veiled Christ). Created in 1753 by Giuseppe Sanmartino, the work of art is carved from a single block of marble and is considered one of the greatest sculptural masterpieces in the world. The life-size statue represents the lifeless body of Jesus covered with a veil. Sanmartino made the statue with an obsessive attention to detail, such as the nail holes on the hands and feet, so everything looks very realistic.

Continue your visit to Naples by walking to the seafront to enjoy a beautiful sunset with the view of Mount Vesuvius in the background. From here you can continue to the castle “Castello Dell’Ovo”, located on a small island overlooking the Gulf of Naples. It is the oldest castle in the city.
Still staying on the seafront, you enter the “Chiaia” neighborhood, the most elegant area of Naples, full of high fashion stores, luxury hotels and prestigious offices. Chiaia overlooks the sea and is a perfect neighborhood to admire the panoramic view of Capri, Vesuvius and the hill Posillipo.

There is also an underground Naples (Napoli Sotteranea), made of tufa caves, Roman galleries, dark and humid tunnels, an aqueduct and many secrets. Through guided tours of about 2 hours, it is possible to enter a little known Naples and discover great monuments, now brought to light and restored thanks to the work of the Association Naples Underground. An evocative path, rich in history and linked to the rediscovery of a unique cultural heritage of its kind.

Another place worth visiting underground in Naples is the Fontanelle Cemetery, a former ossuary located in large tufa caves that cover more than three thousand square meters. Inside are the remains of an undetermined number of people (it is estimated to be over 40,000). The origin of the Fontanelle Cemetery dates back to the 16th century and is also famous because the Rite of the Soul took place here, that is, the adoption and care of a particular skull of an abandoned soul by a Neapolitan in exchange for protection. The atmosphere here is surreal, almost magical.

 

Author: Luca

Castel dell'Ovo, Naples, Naples, Campania, Italy
Castel dell’Ovo was built in the 15th century and is located on the Gulf of Naples. Here the fortress in the foreground with the volcano Vesuvius in the background, above the port city of Naples, Campania, Italy. (photo © Shutterstock.com)
Cimitero delle Fontanelle, Naples, Italy
Fontanelle Cemetery, Cimitero delle Fontanelle of Naples, perhaps one of the most mysterious places in the city of Naples, Italy. (photo © Massimo Santi / Shutterstock.com)
Naples, Vesuvius, Campania, Italy
Naples and Mount Vesuvius before sunrise, Napoli, Campania, Italy. (photo © Shutterstock.com)

Naples / Napoli

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Christmas in Milan

Christmas in Milan

Christmas in Milan

In Milan, the lights are ready to be switched on and in many parts of the city preparations are underway for the start of the pre-Christmas festivities. With a special time travel through the atmospheres of Christmas in Milan, this magical moment of the year, we will take you to the most interesting corners of the Milanese capital and the really not to be missed events.

 

The Finnish market

Towards the end of November, in Via dei Marchi, the stalls with handicrafts and culinary specialties of the Finnish tradition and, next to them, the stalls of the German market will again brighten up the Christmas spirit. In the afternoon, children can listen to the story of Santa’s dwarves and participate in Christmas card-making workshops.

 

The artisan fair

The Artisan Fair, held at the end of November/mid-December in the exhibition halls in Rho, lasts nine days to buy handicraft products, taste the food of many different countries and take a real trip around the world between fascinating cultures and traditions.

An unmissable event for those who want to think in advance about Christmas gifts, focusing on originality. Surround the many products offered, musical events, dance performances and cooking classes.

Image above, Christmas and New Year decoration of Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II (1877) – one of the oldest shopping centers in the world. (photo © Shutterstock.com)
Milan Cathedral, Christmas in Milan, Lombardy, Italy
Milan Cathedral with Christmas tree, Italy (photo © Shutterstock.com)

The “Oh bej Oh bej” fair

The tradition of the time of Christmas in Milan wants this fair or market to accompany the feast of the patron saint of the city. Around the Castello Sforzesco, numerous stalls, divided into sections according to the area of origin, display all kinds of goods, including food, sweets and many handicrafts typical of the vendors’ countries of origin. Astonishment both among the visitors and the children who in 1510 welcomed Giannetto Castiglioni, sent by Pope Pius IV to rekindle the enthusiasm of the faithful. “O Bej, O Bej” exclaimed the little Milanese of that time at the sight of the gifts brought to them in the city.

The markets around the cathedral have less dated origins, but help to brighten the climate of the city center. Every year, the wooden stands will start selling their products from December 8 to remain operational for all the Christmas holidays.

Castello. Sforzesco, Lombardy, Milan, Italy
Balloons with the Sforzesco Castle in the background on a sunny winter day for the “Oh bej! Oh bej!” Fair, Milan, Italy (photo © Murphy1975 / Shutterstock.com)

 

Christmas trees

Exceptional Christmas trees complete this magical atmosphere: for example, the large tree in Piazza Duomo lights up to illuminate everything that surrounds it with its decorations and lights. The tree in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, the one in Piazza Della Scala and the one in Piazza Duca d’Aosta will accompany him.

 

Christmas in Milan – Culinary traditions

We can only conclude this overview of Milanese traditions by mentioning its most typical dishes: Legend has it that panettone, the most famous Italian Christmas dessert, was born in Milan by a careless boy from the scullery in the service of Ludovico il Moro, whose name has survived through the centuries. The “Pan de Toni” has been produced and consumed throughout Italy for centuries, but tasting and buying it in the most prestigious confectioneries of the native city has a completely different flavor.

In this context, I suggest you make a trip to the refined pastry shop “Cova”, a kind of temple of panettone from the 1930s, where the exquisite dessert is sold in a really elegant package, or at “Bianco Latte”, a warm and welcoming place. where a thousand delicacies are made, including the panettone, prepared according to tradition or in other, even more delicious variations, or at the Martesana pastry shop, characterized by a modern style and a pastry shop of excellent quality, where the motto “with the hands, with time, with the heart” reinterprets the traditional dessert and proposes it anew in infinite flavors.

Text © Italien.blog

Naviglio Grande, Milan, Lombardy, Italy
The waterway of the Naviglio Grande canal in Milan (Italy) with Christmas lights. This district is famous for its restaurants, cafes, pubs and nightlife. (photo © Shutterstock.com)

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Sirmione on Lake Garda, Lombardy

Sirmione on Lake Garda, Lombardy

Sirmione, one of the most beautiful towns of Lombardy is located on a narrow peninsula of the lower Lake Garda.

The beautiful Sirmione is located on the southern shore of Lake Garda, in the province of Brescia, on the border with the province of Verona and Veneto. The town is located just over 100 km from Milan and is easily accessible via the E70 freeway (A4).

The Romans and Greeks already knew Sirmione and in particular the Via Gallica passed precisely through the isthmus of the so-called Sirmio. The Roman poet Gaius Quintus Valerius Catullus dedicated a passionate poem to it and the Roman villa of Sirmione, which occupies one of the most beautiful shores of Lake Garda, is traditionally considered the property of the poet.

Discover the attractions of Sirmione!

What are the most beautiful sights to see in Sirmione? Below we have selected the main attractions that you can discover in one of the most beautiful places on Lake Garda.

The beaches of Sirmione

The so-called Jamaica Beach is one of the most famous beaches of Sirmione, where you almost feel like you are on the sea. Other beaches worth visiting are Spiaggia delle Muse, just below the castle and the exclusive Lido delle Bionde, Santa Maria di Lugana and Spiaggia Brema, while Spiaggia Galeazzi is a paradise for sports enthusiasts where you can rent windsurfs, pedal boats and canoes.

The caves of Catullus

The Grotto of Catullus is a Roman villa, the oldest part of which dates back to the first century AD. Before the excavation of this huge archaeological complex, the ruins of the villa, covered by dense vegetation, appeared in the form of caves, which according to an ancient tradition are attributed to the Roman poet Gaius Quintus Valerius Catullus.

The caves can be reached on foot from the historic center, walking along Via Caio Valerio Catullo. Visit the museum, the cryptoporticus, the swimming pool, the cistern and the olive grove before going to the Aula dei Giganti and the great Pilone, the two best preserved areas of the entire complex.

Jamaica Beach, Sirmione, Lake Garda, Lombardy, Italy

The beach Jamaica Beach in Sirmione on Lake Garda, Lombardy, Italy.

Photo © S-F / Shutterstock.com

Grotte di Catullo, Sirmione, Lake Garda, Lombardy, Italy

Grotte di Catullo at the end of the peninsula of Sirmione on Lake Garda, Lombardy, Italy.

Photo © S-F / Shutterstock.com

The Castello Scaligero

The Scaliger Castle is one of the best preserved fortified buildings in Italy. Built around the middle of the 13th century during the time of the Scaligeri, a dynasty that ruled for 125 years the City of Verona ruled, it is surrounded on all four sides by the waters of the lake. On the castle tower you can enjoy a spectacular view of Lake Garda.

The Grottoes of Catullus
The Grotto of Catullus is a Roman villa, the oldest part of which dates back to the first century AD. Before the excavation of this huge archaeological complex, the ruins of the villa, covered by dense vegetation, appeared in the form of caves, which according to an ancient tradition are attributed to Gaius Valerius Catullus. The caves can be reached on foot from the historic center of Sirmione, walking along Via Caio Valerio Catullo.

Visit the museum, the cryptoporticus, the swimming pool, the cistern and the olive grove before going to the Aula dei Giganti and the great Pilone, the two best preserved areas of the entire complex.

The Callas Palace

The beautiful lemon yellow villa that looks out between the dark green trees of Via Catullo in the heart of the peninsula was for years the summer residence of Maria Callas’ husband and here the singer stayed whenever she had the opportunity, away from the limelight and close to Verona, with the famous Arena.

Castello Scaligero, Sirmione, Lake Garda, Lombardy, Italy

The Castello Scaligero at the entrance to the town of Sirmione on Lake Garda, Lombardy, Italy.

(Photo © Shutterstock.com)

Palazzo Callas, Sirmione, Lake Garda, Lombardy, Italy

The Palazzo Callas in Sirmione, Lake Garda, Lombardy, Italy.

Photo © Shutterstock.com

 

The Isola Borghese Cavazza and the Isola San Biagio

The island of Lake Garda, Isola del Garda or Isola Borhese Cavazza on the other hand, is a beautiful private island. You can visit this island and admire the English and Italian gardens and three of the rooms inside the magnificent neo-Gothic Venetian style villa on the island.

The island of San Biagio or Isola dei Conigli, also called “Island of the Rabbits” because of the many rabbits that live there, is a small island with lush vegetation.

Isola Borghese Cavazza, Lake Garda, Lombardy, Italy

The private island Isola Borghese Cavazza with the neo-Gothic villa can be visited. Lake Garda, Lombardy, Italy. (Photo © Shutterstock.com)

Isola San Biagio, Isola dei Conigli, Lake Garda, Lombardy, Italy

Isola San Biagio also called Isola dei Conigli is located near Sirmione, Lake Garda, Lombardy, Italy. (Photo © Shutterstock.com)

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Christmas time in Naples

Christmas time in Naples

During the Christmas season in Naples you will find a suggestive atmosphere that makes this celebration unique and magical. Below are some reasons why you should Naples in the region Campania should visit during the Christmas holidays.

 

The magical atmosphere of San Gregorio Armeno

You can’t think of Neapolitan Christmas without visiting this street in the heart of the historic center. San Gregorio Armeno is dedicated to the Christmas season all year round and its atmosphere becomes even more atmospheric in the days before and after the holidays.

Here you will find the traditional Neapolitan Christmas crib, proud of the craftsmanship of its masters, but also less conventional figures representing the most prominent figures from entertainment, politics and sports.

 

The cribs of San Martino.

According to legend, the Neapolitan architect Michele Cuciniello, who lived in the second half of the 19th century, had collected during his life more than 800 statuettes of nativity scenes, from shopkeepers and shepherds, and then sold them to the director of the San Martino Museum. The sale had only one condition: The unique crib had to be arranged exactly as Cuciniello wanted it. And so it remains today, perfectly arranged to enhance the most significant scenes and highlight every detail of this record-breaking nativity scene.

Another wonderful crib is the wooden one by Pietro and Giovanni Alemanno, from 1478. The crib comes from the church of San Giovanni a Carbonara and is currently on display in the Museum of S. Martino.

The ballet at the San Carlo Theater

If you love culture, theater and ballet, you can not miss the performance of the Nutcracker during the Christmas season in Naples, offered every year to the citizens of Naples and in the oldest theater in the world. The Tchaikovsky Ballet, performed during the Christmas holidays, is a tradition to open the Christmas holidays in Naples.

 

Christmas time in Naples, Via San Gregoria Armeno, Napoli, Naples, Italy
Night view of the famous “Christmas Avenue” (Via San Gregorio Armeno) with the Neapolitan cribs in the historic center of the city of Naples. Italy. (photo © lazyllama / Shutterstock.com)
Presepe, crib, Pietro Alemanno, Napoli, Italy
Christmas time in Naples, Christmas crib (Presepe di Pietro Alemanno, San Giovanni to Carbonara) in Certosa di San Martino, Naples. Italy. (photo © Tetiana Tychynska / Shutterstock.com)
Crib, Naples, Campania, Italy
Nativity scene from Naples, Campania, Italy (photo © shutterstock.com)

The culinary Christmas in Naples

 

The fish market of Napoli

Italian tradition says that Christmas Eve dinner is based on fish, and Naples is happy to offer its residents and tourists the best of the city. The market of Porta Nolana opens on the night of Antivigilia (between the 23. and December 24) opens its doors and offers everyone the opportunity to stock up on seafood delicacies.

This market is not only very useful to grab fish of the best quality for dinner, but also a moment of folklore where you can admire the traditions of a city that loves good food and never forgets to celebrate it.

 

Fried pizza and Neapolitan desserts

What makes Christmas Eve special is not only the rich seafood dinner, but also the lunch of traditional fried pizza eaten at home with the family or in the street among the stalls of the Christmas markets.

Then, during the Christmas season in Naples, the most famous desserts of Campania: struffoli, rococò and cassatine close every meal both at home and in the restaurant. Not to mention an excellent Neapolitan coffee!

The Christmas markets in Naples and surroundings

The Christmas markets light up the villages and castles that surround the city, giving you an evocative and romantic atmosphere and the opportunity to fully immerse yourself in the traditional Neapolitan Christmas.

During your Christmas vacations in Naples, do not forget to add a visit to Limatola Castle, Pietralcina, where Padre Pio was born, Ottaviano Castle on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius, the historic center of Cusano Mutri, which is becoming a real fairy tale village.

 

Art and culture in the shadow of Vesuvius

It is obvious that a vacation in Naples can only include a good dose of art and culture. The city, once the capital of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, tells its own story through an incredible variety of architecture and works of art scattered throughout its streets and museums.
Don’t forget to visit the exhibitions and temporary exhibitions planned for the Christmas season in the galleries and museums of Naples, to combine your desire for pizza with the desire to get to know the great Italian and international artists.

Text © Italien.blog

Castello di Ottaviano, Campania, Italy
Ottaviano, Campania, Italy. Christmas lights at Ottaviano Castle
(
photo © Shutterstock.com)
Fish market, Naples, Italy
Fish, squid and other seafood stall at the Porta Nolana seafood market in Naples. (photo © Shutterstock.com)
Street food, Pizza, Napoli, Naples, Italy
Street food, pizza, Napoli, Italy. (photo © Shutterstock.com)

Castello di Ottaviano

Castello Limatola

Cusano Mutri

Teatro San Carlo

Museo di San Martino

San Gregorio Armeno

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