Visit Naples in two days – day 2

This is an excerpt from the book “Naples, Capri, Ischia and Pompeii‘ by Enrico Massetti.

Reggia di Capodimonte – Photo ©
Reggia di Capodimonte – Photo ©

This is a continuation of the itinerary: Visit Naples in two days – day 1

On the morning of the second day, we shall immediately start out by going up the long, straight Via Roma (which the Neapolitans still call Via Toledo), to the Palazzo (Reggia) di Capodimonte (1738), which stands in the midst of a charming park. The Palace houses what may be considered the most beautiful museum in Italy, for its remarkable collection, not only or paintings (the Pinacoteca Nationale, see The Ten Capitals of Italian Painting), but also of furniture, tapestries, arms, porcelains, etc., for the delightful decoration of its more than 100 rooms, and for the beauty of the surrounding scenery.

Having finished our visit of the Museum, which is sure to last an hour or more, we descend, through the Porter Grande and the Salita di Capodimonte, to Via Cristallini.

Leaving the Picturesque Via delle Vergini to our right, and following the streets which take their names from the churches of S. Maria dei Miracoli and S. Maria degli Angioli, we come to the Botanical Gardens, which we cross to reach Piazza Carlo III, where stands the large Ospizio di San Gennaro dei Poveri.

San Giovanni a Carbonara – Photo © Armando Mancini
San Giovanni a Carbonara – Photo © Armando Mancini

We continue along the extremely lively Via Foria (on the left, the church of S. Antonio Abate with 14th century paintings) to Via Cirillo, which takes us to the beautiful Gothic church of S. Giovanni a Carbonara with important monuments and 15th century frescoes.

On the same street, we come to one of the most scenic spots in Naples, with the Florentine Renaissance church of S. Caterina a Formello, and the Porta Capuana, through which we must pass, in order to admire its magnificent exterior by Giuliano da Sangallo. Returning to Piazza Capuana, we walk round the imposing Castel Capuano (12th century) which was the residence of the Aragonese kings and now houses the Court of Justice.

Following Via dei Tribunali, we come, on the right, to the Cathedral with an insignificant modern facade in which, however, are preserved three 15th century portals. The interior is solemn and richly decorated with frescoes by Lanfranco and Domenichino in the Chapel of San Gennaro, and 14th century frescoes and a mosaic floor of the 13th century in the Gothic Chapel of Cardinal Minutolo.

In the crypt below the cloir of the church, there is the Carafa Chapel (16th century), the finest piece of Renaissance art in Naples. From the left aisle, we enter Santa Restituta. Turning to the right when coming out of the Cathedral, we soon reach the church of S. Maria di Donnaregina, which, in our opinion, is the most beautiful church in Naples, with its majestic Gothic vaults, the impressive 14th century fresco-cycle by Pietro Cavallini, and the marble Tomb of Queen Mary of Hungary (1326) by Tino da Camaino.

Returning to Via dei Tribunali, we have, to the right, first the restrained Baroque church of S. Filippo Neri, with a sumptuous interior, and then the church of San Lorenzo Maggiore, with a Gothic portal and a magnificent interior with a single nave, adorned with marble tombs and mostly medieval frescoes.

Almost directly opposite is the church of San Paolo Maggiore. We continue a short way down Via dei Tribunali to Via Nilo, which leads us to the tiny church of S. Angel, a Nilo (or Cappella Brancaccio), in Via Mezzocannone on the far side of Piazza San Domenico.

The interior houses the superb Tomb of Cardinal Brancaccio by Donatello and Michelozzo, and fine 15th century paintings.

Through Via San Biagio dei Librai and Vico San Severino we now come to the Renaissance church of SS. Severino c Sossio, with numerous paintings and sculpture. In the nearby Convent (since 1945, the State Archives), is a beautiful Cloister. A few steps more and we reach the Palazzo Cuomo, built in Tuscan Renaissance style, which houses the Civic Museum with a fine collection of pictures, furniture, china and weapons.

Piazza del mercato – Photo ©
Piazza del mercato – Photo ©

We now come to the straight Corso Umberto I and, having crossed the circular Piazza Nicola Amore, we reach the picturesque Piazza del Mercato, where the Angevins, out of hatred, beheaded the young Conradin of Swabia in 1268. In the center of the square stands the church of Croce del Mercato, while on the one side, is the small church of S. Eligio, with its Gothic portal and, on the other, the great Baroque church of S. Maria del Carmine. We may end our tour of the works of art and monuments of Naples by strolling along Via Marina past the harbor, back to Piazza Municipio.

Where to stay in Naples

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