Naples is a city of swaggering palaces and stupendous churches, of cacophonous street life and infectious vitality. Its museums display some of the finest art and antiquities to be found in Italy, and major architectural and archaeological sites are located nearby. It is also a place that grows on you and surprises you; behind the front door of a seemingly normal building you will find well tended gardens and timeless works of art.
The Teatro San Carlo is one of the most important in operatic history, with many premières to its credit. One of the oldest and largest in Europe, it was built in 1737, restored after a fire in 1818, and has just emerged in all its glory from major refurbishment. A walking tour includes the houses where Donizetti and Rossini lived during their stay in Naples, the Umberto Gallery, Chiesa della Pietà dei Turchini, part of the Conservatory of Pietà dei Turchini, built in 1583 and the only one remaining of the original four musical institutions.
The Vesuvius and Pompeii Ruins hold an intense fascination for visitors today. Following the eruption of the volcano Mount Vesuvius in the year 79 A.D., Pompeii lay buried and forgotten for hundreds of years. The town is high on the list of the Wonders of the World and the excavations begun in the 18th Century are still being carried out today. Strolling through some of the ancient streets, you can see Baths, Forums and Villas built by the prosperous Romans in the year 80 B.C. Marvel at the fabulously preserved Frescos which adorned the walls and floors of the Villas.
The Archaeological Museum is the most important classical archaeology museum in the world. Charles of Bourbon put the largest art collection in Italy, the Farnese collection inherited by his mother Elisabeth, into this building (the old “Study Palace” or university). Over the years the largest archaeological collection of all time, relics from the city and from the villas buried under the ashes of Vesuvius in 79 BC, were brought here, including: mosaics, paintings, jewelry and objects recovered from the buried Vesuvian homes.
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The Historic Center corresponds to the ancient city founded by the Athenians around 450 B.C. as Neapolis, through the Roman until the Medieval era. It includes over 250 churches, palazzi from the 13th through the 20th century and countless art treasures. Your exploration starts from the Forum, then under the Gothic Church of San Lorenzo Maggiore to view the ruins of the Roman streets and the Macellum, the food market. Then on to San Gregorio Armeno, where the world famous Neapolitan Crib art are made, and the Cappella Sansevero where you will see the sculpture of the Veiled Christ. The old quarter – oldest continuously inhabited neighborhood in the West and under the protection of UNESCO – includes the University of Naples, second oldest in history, the San Biagio dei Librai bookstores and the Cloister of Santa Chiara.
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