EuroAdventure15: Exploring Napoli
(posted by Emily)
8 July 2015
~23,000 steps (~10 miles walked)
On Wednesday morning, we woke up a bit before 8 in order to have breakfast in Federica's apartment. She was already off to work, but left us a sweet note with suggestions of what to do for the day and checking in to make sure we felt at home in her little flat. We decided to explore the ancient city center of Naples, and with the help of her detailed maps (walking routes highlighted in yellow, sights to see in pink), we were off.
There is a long narrow strip of the city that runs east/west and contains a huge number of churches. It was hard to keep them all straight, but fascinating to see the differences in architecture and style, based on how old they were. We probably popped in to 6 or 7 different ones!
Because it was more simple, less ornate, we could tell this church was older.
One of the narrow Napoli streets
At some point, we noticed we had passed a pink highlighted section on the map labeled "Underground Walk." We backtracked a bit, and found the entrance to Subterranean Naples.
The tour is about an hour and a half long, and takes you through the ancient acquaducts and cisterns of Greco-Roman times. We had seen tours similar to this on trip advisor, but let me tell you--this one was amazing. It was only 10 Euros per person, and we had an English speaking guide for our group of 6--us, a father/daughter pair from Louisiana, and a couple from the UK.
You descend down 121 stairs into the tunnel system. At some point during the tour, we were 40 meters underground. There are 400 km within the aquaduct network, and this tour covered 1 km. We learned about how the system was made (chiseled by hand) and that public and private wells drew water from the network. Most of the the wells have been closed now.
Looking up at one of the few remaining open wells. During WWII, the tunnels were used as an air raid shelter--Naples was hit with an incredible number of bombs. Some families lived down here for months.
There was once a cloister of nuns who had a staircase down into the tunnels, where they stored the wine that they made. The company who runs the tour still makes wine today, and stores it here.
The tunnel is said to lead to the nearby monastery--the monks and the nuns would get together and have parties down here.
We got to walk to a recreation of one of the aquifers, were they have a terra cotta basket for drawing the water. This was one of our favorite parts of the tour--the tunnel we took to get to this spot was 8m tall, but only 50 cm wide. There are no lights inside, so everyone had to carry a candle in front of them to light the way. the tunnel is so narrow to help increase water pressure--the more narrow the space, the faster the water would flow.
As an experiment, the tour company is doing studies growing plants underground. These plants can live for 10 months without being watered because of the humid conditions underground.
The best part of the underground tour was how cool (temperature-wise) it was--we both commented that it was probably packed in the afternoon, when everyone wants to escape the heat!
After the tunnels, we got to see the remains of an ancient Greek-style theater. Because of a law that Naples has regarding only constructing within city walls, many of these ruins have been incorporated into other buildings, in the basements and store rooms. Even as recently as 2008, these homeowners found ancinet construction under their plaster walls.
After our tour, we headed to the Duomo, or main church within the city. We didn't have much time to explore, as they were closing it down for a few hours. This seems to be the norm in Naples--open around 10, close at 12:30, reopen again around 3 when it's cooler outside.
We stopped to a quick street food snack with only mediocre success--our arancini had meat inside :( At least we learned some new Italian phrases to prevent that from happening again!
We decided to escape the afternoon heat by going to the National Archeological Museum. This is where the collection of artifacts from Pompeii is housed. Lots of great statues from antiquity, old pots and coins, and mosaics and frescoes. We weren't allowed to take photos near the Pompeii stuff, but it was very cool to see. There was even a special exhibition on about how the excavation and stories of Pompeii inspired art from others in modern Europe.
After the museum, we stopped for a quick refreshment--beers (Peroni and Nastro, both local Italian beers) and an orange Fanta.
We walked a bit more near our apartment, and then decided to pop in for a quick shower before some window shopping and gelato.
Looking over at Mount Vesuvius
We did some more shopping, H&M for me, and a few men's boutiques for Rick. Naples is one of the only places we've found boutiques for men on par with what you might find regularly for women.
The best gelato in Naples supposedly comes from Gay-Odin--and we would have to agree! It was light and creamy, but had a great depth of flavor.
For dinner that evening, we decided to eat at the little restaurant below our flat, San Ferdinando. No photos from that meal, as I didn't feel like it was the kind of place I could get my phone out at the table. But, trust me, it was incredible. We had bruschetta with smoked mozzarella, tomato, and rocket (arugula), potato and mozzarella pasta (all my carb-loving dreams come true), and a sponge cake with marscapone/yogurt cream and apricot marmalade. Amazing all around!
Then, it was a quick trip upstairs, and off to bed!
Gelato Flavor Inventory
- dark chocolate x2
- ricotta and pear