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Lemons of Sorrento

The natural environment which is typical of the Sorrento area is for sure the lemon-grove.
The lemon of Sorrento is the “Oval of Sorrento” cultivar, known affectionately as “Femminello”. This fruit medium to large-sized fruit weighing at least 85 g, is elliptical in shape, has a strong scent and is very juicy. The yellow part of the peel is rich in essential oils and the juice from the fruit has an instantly recognizable combination of citrus acid and sugar. In 2000, the “Femminello” received Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) recognition under European Union regulations. This protects the cultivar and defines the geographical area where the lemon can be grown as the Sorrento peninsula and the Isle of Capri. The PGI stamp also requires that cultivation is carried out in a specific (and organic) way, under the “pagliarelle”, which are like “mats” that protect against the saltness in the air, drops in temperature and delay ripening (a defining characteristic of this lemon). The cultivar is remontant: in October, the first fruit (“primofiore”) has the juiciest lemons; in March, the light yellow “bianchetti” ripen; and in June, the “verdelli” or green lemons are ready.

Due to their sun-filled beauty, citrus fruit where first used as decorative plants and were even celebrated in "rawdija" (a genre of Arabian poetry). It was also the Arabs who discovered the healing properties of the essential oils and juices extracted from the bark, flowers and fruit of the "laymun" (lemon), "narang" (sour orange), "‘utrug" (citron) and so on. The distillation of "al-kuhul" (alcohol) by means of the "al-inbiq" (alembic) was also a part of Arabian pharmacopoeia. Adding aromatic herbs to alcohol produced "al-iksir" (elixirs), which, for centuries, were vital for doctors, chemists and then, in monasteries. Some time in the 15th or 16th centuries, monks started to combine flavoured alcohol with sweet syrups, thus giving birth to the era of liqueurs and rosolios (sweet liqueurs). It will always be a mistery whether it was monks or a clever housewife who first “macerated” lemon peel in alcohol and sugar syrup, but the result, “limoncello” or “limonillo” in the dialect of Sorrento, is now a typical local product.




Church of the

In the church of "Pio Monte della Misericordia" in Naples is exhibited the magnificent painting by Caravaggio (Michelangelo Merisi, 1571-1610), known as “The Works of Mercy”. "Pio Monte della Misericordia" was an old charitable institution (1610) in the historical centre of Naples.
The painting represents the corporal works of mercy in a single canvas where the figures synthesize with a few essential gestures all the essence of Christian charity expressed in the capacity of everyday people: feed the hungry, clothe the poor, assist the sick, give hospitality to foreigners. Owing to its inspirational, reformative character, it is considered the most important religious painting of the 17th century and began a new revolutionary trend in understanding art.




San Martino Museum

The National Museum of S. Martino is Naples’ most varied and surprising museum; rich in artistic beauty, curiosity and various elements of style, it offers a marvellous panorama from its windows and terraces. Built on the hill of the Vomero, at the foot of the Castle of S. Elmo, it contains an 18th century church with its various sacristies, which are rich in the works of art, so that it is almost a gallery of Neapolitan art of its times. A fine cloister, the work of Cosimo Fanzago, other small cloisters, long rooms which record the history of Naples, models of ships, festive coaches, jewellery, records of the theatre of Pulcinella, folk costumes and uniforms, Abruzzo majolica, the shepherds from the cribs etc., are among the collections to be found here.

A discerning visitor may pass many an hour there, scrutinising the showcases, discovering details in the decorations of the rooms themselves, admiring the glimpses of the landscape which change from every window as far as the great balcony from which one may enjoy the view of the whole city from Capodimonte to Posillipo: the famous balcony overhanging the Bay. It was an old monastery, built in the 14th century, but its present style is Baroque. Fanzago worked there for many years, and all Naples’ artists, or those who worked there in those times, have left their mark on S. Martino. In 1860 the Carthusians had to leave the Monastery, after the laws suppressing religious orders, and from that time it has been a museum, slowly growing and developing, in a surprising way, throughout the cells, corridors and room of every size, with their ever-changing vistas.


Actually, the crib was not born in Naples: the first one was in fact made by S. Francis with living persons in the Grotto of Gubbio. But in Naples the crib took on a particular significance, for it assumed a realistic effect by its introduction of contemporary life into the mystic scene. The 18th century saw the triumph of the baroque and gave the crib rich decorative elements that often aspire to art Sculptors of renown such as Sammartino, the creator of “Christ Veiled” in the Chapel of Sansevero, Vassallo, Gori, Celbrano, left their great marble statues to model , one by one, the little terracotta figures with glass eyes, which represent the countrymen, washerwomen, drovers, hawkers and animals of the courtyard. Their models were chosen from the people, the vivacious Neapolitans of that day. And so whole streets of Naples were transferred to the cribs, with beggars, local characters and people in their 18th century costumes that could have no historical connection with the scene at Bethlehem. But it is that fully known anachronism that has given beauty to the Neapolitan crib, offering a wonderful blossoming of truth and fantasy to the Nativity scene, in a framework of the Spanish Viceroyalty and the kingdom of Charles of Bourbon.
King Charles himself arranged the crowd of shepherds on his personal crib, and his queen, Amalia, sewed the shepherd’s clothes with her own hands, while a host of jewellers, woodcarvers, instrument makers and potters created a world of minituare objects to suit the little characters. Thus, every Neapolitan household wanted its own crib, and many of them are still preserved by poetic, devoted collectors. The largest crib in the world is that of the Museum of S. Martino, which is like a catalogue of the shepherds of the most famous artists. But the admirer must not neglect the precious little private museum of the Catello collection in Via Cimarosa, and he may request Count Leonetti, avv. Perrone and other noted collectors for permission to visit their collections. Other famous cribs are the one in marble in the Church of Monteoliveto, and the one in wood in S.Giovanni a Carbonara; but at Christmas time almost all the Churches have their own enchanting cribs.





Mount Vesuvius is certainly the symbol and the main feature in the Neapolitan landscape, and it is one of the smallest active volcanoes in the world (1277 mt high). It consists of a truncated cone, Monte Somma, which rises to the height of 1152 mt in punta Nasone, on the Northern side. From the centre of this crater Vesuvius proper rises. Austere and all yellow with broom in spring, it inspires a mighty solitude just as the poet Giacomo Leopardi described it. This famous volcano was responsible for the destuction of Pompeii, Herculaneum, Stabiae and so on. On the 24th August of 79 A.D. it erupted and, over the centuries, even the memory of their exact location was lost.

For more than 1500 years Pompeii has been buried undisturbed beneath heaps of ashes and cinders until it was rediscovered in 1748. Among the most significant aspects of the discoveries at Pompeii is the remarkable degree of preservation of the ancient objects. The showers of wet ashes and cinders that accompanied the eruption formed a hermetic seal on the town, preserving many public structures, temples, theaters, baths, shops, and private dwellings. As regards Herculaneum, a huge pyroclastic muddy flow flooded the town and when it hardened it became solid as rock. For more than 1500 years this town too has been preserved undisturbed and its excavations began quite by accident in 1709 when during the digging of a well, some workers discovered a wall which was later found to be one of the stages of the ancient theatre. Initially a series of tunnels were dug to strip the site of any saleable valuables. Officially the excavations of Herculaneum started in 1738 by will of the king of Naples Charles of Bourbon under the supervision of Rocco Gioacchino Alcubierre and then his assistant Carlo Weber. Over the centuries Vesuvius has erupted many times: the last eruption took place in 1944 during the second world war and two villages (San Sebastiano al Vesuvio and Massa) were destroyed. Since then, the crater has lost its plume of smoke, and only very few minor fumaroles give warning that Vesuvius is still alive.


Before 79 A.C. the lower slopes of Vesuvius were planted with vineyards. Pliny the elder wrote that no region on earth was more joyously touched by nature. Its volcanic nature was unsuspected save by men of science such as Diodorus Siculus, Vitruvius and especially Strabo, who inferred its igneous nature from its conical shape and the ashy nature of its barren summit. In early times – he wrote – this district was on fire and had craters of fires, and then because the fuel gave out, was quenched. (Geography, V, 4). The name “Vesuvius”, or “Vesbius”, has been derived from two roots meaning “the unextinguished”. This peak was much higher than the present summit, and was the completion of the now broken cone of Monte Somma. Within its seemingly dead crater Spartacus and the rebel slaves took refuge in 73 BC, escaping by an unguarded rift from the besieging army of Clodius Pulcher. In 63 AD a violent earthquake , mentioned by Seneca, caused serious damages in Pompeii, Herculaneum, Naples and Pozzuoli. This was followed by other shocks, and in 79 AD the central cone blew out and Pompeii, Herculaneum and Stabiae were totally buried. The eruption is vividly descibed in two letters written by Pliny the Younger and sent to Tacitus. According to the Pliny’s description Vesuvius erupted stones and sand like a pine tree, for it shot up a great height in the form of a trunk, which extended itself at the top into several branches. Besides he wrote: It was now six o’clock in the morning, the light still ambiguous and faint. The buildings around us already tottered, and though we stood upon open ground, yet as the place was narrow and confined, there was a certain and formidable danger from their collapsing. It was not till then we resolved to quit the town. [ ] The coaches which we had ordered out , though upon the most level ground, were sliding to and fro, and could not be kept steady even when stones were put against the wheels. Then we beheld the sea sucked back, and as it were repulsed by the convulsive motion of the earth; it is certain at least the shore was considerably enlarged, and now held many sea animals captive on the dry sand. On the other side, a black and dreadful cloud bursting out in gusts of igneous serpentine vapour now and again yawned open to reveal long fantastic flames, resembling flashes of lightning but much larger. [ ] We had scarce sat down, when darkness overspread us, not like that of a moonless or cloudy night, but of a room when it is shut up, and the lamp put out. You could hear the shrieks of women, the crying of children, and the shouts of men; some were seeking their children, others their parents, others their wives or husbands, and only distinguishing them by their voices; one lamenting his own fate, another that of his family; some praying to die, from the fear of dying; many lifting their hands to the gods, but the greater part imagining that there were no gods left anywhere, and that the last and eternal night was come upon the world.


To reach to the top of Vesuvius, it is possible to get the Circumvesuviana train from Sorrento to Pompeii. You can get off at Pompeii train station and by the newsstand of the station You can buy the tickets (6 Euros per person for the round trip) for the bus to get to the top of Vesuvius. You can get the bus in the "Porta Marina Inferiore" Square, near the Pompeii Information Tourist Office. The bus for the top of Vesuvius leaves from Pompeii at: 8.00 - 9.00 - 9.30 - 10.00 - 10.30 - 11.20 - 12.20 - 13.20 - 14.30 - 15.30 .

From Vesuvius to Pompeii the public bus leaves at: 9.10 - 10.35 - 11.05 - 11.35 - 12.05 - 12.55 - 13.55 - 14.55 - 16.30 - 17.40 .

In case, You can buy the tickets on board too, but You have to pay a small extra charge.




The Ruins of Stabiae

The area later occupied by the Roman town of Stabiae had been inhabited by Italian populations since VIII century b.C., as can be deduced from the necropolis discovered in the last few years; archeologists presume that one or more similar centres were founded, linked to the the others existing in the adjoining Sarno valley, and with Nucera, which here found its natural passage to the sea. But scholars still do not know in the “Samnite period” where the fortified centre rose, which was then destroyed by Silla in 89 AC during the “Social War”. The town was not rebuilt on the site of its ruins and the Roman Stabiae was mainly composed of large, luxurious villas, scattered throughout the region, above all on the brow of the Varano hill: in fact this became one of the most exclusive and residential areas of the great Roman families. The archeological excavations began thanks to the king Charles of Bourbon and indeed they brought a fair number of villas to light, among the finest of ancient times.

In the traditional plan of that Roman period, the villas had a residential area which stretched out on the brow of the hill, with a sea view, and a rustic and service area behind it. The planimetrical development adapted itself to the land and the most favourable orientation so that a varied, articulate construction resulted, often with more than one floor. Gardens and peristyles played an important part in the villas and they were carefully planned by an architect to ensure that they were wide and rich, adorned with pools and fountains, with small trees and plants spread throughout. Besides the excavations have sometimes made it possible to find out their exact species. Like in the San Marco Villa there were very large private thermal bathes and large drawing-rooms. These villas had a particularly high artistic level, not only as regards the architecture, but also due to the wall paintings and stuccoes mostly executed in I A.C., very often of superior quality to similar Pompeian decorations. In addition, for the fittings recovered there, including the obsidian goblets ornated with scenes in gold polychrome and minute stone objects, is clear the residential level of this town.




A fresco representing some figs

The so-called “Villa of Poppea” is perhaps the largest and most luxurious of the suburban villas so far brought to light. It lay beneath a good six metres of the usual layers of lapilli and ashes and then a thick layer of mud. The architectural complex extended for over 60 metres West-East and more than 50 metres North-South.
The first digs in the archeological area known as “Mascatelle” were undertaken in time of the Bourbon monarchy. After a short initial period of work , in 1883, when the results were very positive, later and for over a century, nothing more was done. It was only in 1964 that the present systematic excavation was begun.


At the time that ash from the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD. buried the villa, it was probably temporarily uninhabited because of restoration work. Though certainly not serious, damage from the eathquake of 62 AD. may have suggested that repair work should be combined with the extension of the building. In fact, no evidence of human victims has so far been found, whilst building materials and decorative items such as columns have been discovered, massed to one side awaiting use. Examination of wall structure allows the construction date of the villa to be put somewhere in the I century BC. The modernization and extension of the thermal section and the addition of arcades and other structures on the northern side would seem to have taken place in the first years of the I century AD.


It is difficult to say who the villa belonged to. Historical information is so scarce that even now we cannot make any firm statements. If so far it has proved impossible to say who the first owners of the villa were, some suppositions can be made about whose property it might have been in the I century AD. An amphora, found in the "latrine" of the villa bears the inscription: “SECUNDO POPPAEAE” meaning “sent to Secundus, freedman of Poppaea”. The villa had become the property of the “gens Poppaea” then, and according to some, of Poppaea herself, the wife of Nero.


The lay-out has the essential characteristic of a Roman "domus", though in its most advanced form. Apart from the traditional living areas leading off from the atrium – the "Peristyle", i.e. a garden encircled by a colonnaded portico; the thermal complex with the "calidarium", the "frigidarium" and the "tepidarium"; the "triclinium" or dining room with adjacent kitchen; the perfectly functional "latrine". First of all we can distinguish a central block, bigger and more spacious, which runs along the North-South axis. There is a large rectangular "atrium" with finely decorated walls, in the centre of which is the "impluvium", the basin into which rain water ran and from which it was piped to the nearby cistern. After the atrium a connecting room leads to a quiet internal garden from which, through a large window, one looks into a huge room. Next to the central block lies the eastern section of the villa. The rooms there would seem to have been used either for common everyday life or as service or store rooms, and there may have been an independent entrance. At the centre of the section there is a spacious "rustic peristyle" with a fountain, and rooms of various kinds lie around it: the "lararium" is on the west side and contains an altar to the household gods; there are store rooms for food; a "tablinum; latrines" with an ingenious flushing system. The group of rooms to the west of the central block evidently had an entirely different function. This was where the owners themselves must have lived, where the reception rooms must have been. A good example is the thermal complex, next to a small tetrastyle atrium with a large circular fountain: the "calidarium" with its splendid mural decorations, the "tepidarium" and the nearby "frigidarium" all still contain the structures and technical equipment used for the heating and cooling of the water. Beside the thermal unit were situated the kitchens where a large open hearth and the sink can still be seen; then the beautiful "triclinium" with its elegant murals and a vast room .





Pozzuoli became a colony of Samos in the second part of the VI century B.C. Previously it had been known as "Dikaiarchia" and had fought beside Cumae against the Etruscans and the Samnites, who conquered it in the second part of the V century B.C. In the II century B.C. under the Romans it took the name of "Puteoli, becoming the main strategic base for the Roman fleet in the Mediterranean until the foundation of the port of Ostia (1st century A.D.). In spite of its decline at this period, it was held in great esteem by the Emperors and particularly by Domitian who connected it to the capital by a road which took his name.

The Temple of Serapis

This is one of the major monumental testimonies to the Roman Age, also known as "Serapeo". Although its name comes from the discovery of a statue to "Serapis", an ancient Egyptian divinity worshipped during the Greek and Roman eras, the structure, which we can see today, was a public marketplace of considerable dimensions. On the side opposite to the main entrance there was a semicircular room containing several niches with statues. The central portion of the courtyard was occupied by a circular podium with a central fountain which was decorated with statues, a group of 16 columns in African marble. This construction dates back to the Flavian period. The temple of Serapis is of great interest to us today, apart from its exceptional architectural and archaelogical value, because it enables us to “read” at a glance the dynamics of centuries of bradyseism at Pozzuoli. On the remains of the columns which rise from the central podium and on the three large columns which remains standing of the four, one can see the holes produced by the litodomi- a type of mollusc which bores into the stone onto which it clung.

Flavian Amphitheatre

The Flavian Amphitheatre was completed during the reign of the Emperor Titus Flavius Vespasian in the second half of the 1st century A.D. As regards size, it is the third largest amphitheatre of Classical times coming after the Colosseum (Rome) and the amphitheatre at Santa Maria Capua Vetere. This remarkable work, which gives testimony to the skill of the Roman builders, is still in an excellent state of conservation. The edifice of the amphitheatre originally had three orders of arcades. The amphitheatre had a seating capacity of 40.000. But the most interesting architectural feature of the building is the network of Underground Passages. These underground passages, built for the greater part of the brick, were completed during the 1st and 2nd centuries A.D. and are still well preserved today. Water was drawn from a nearby aqueduct to flood the arena so that the performances of naval battles (known as Naumachie) could be put on.


Just outside the town there is the Solfatara. It was known in Roman times as "Forum Vulcani", and is in fact the large crater of a dormant volcano. The dormant period of this volcanic formation near Pozzuoli is one of the typical stages of post-volcanic activity; a period when the only sign of life of a dormant volcano is when it produces sulphureous gases which create sulphur deposits. The crater itself has an elliptical shape. The only buildings inside the crater are the ancient "Observatory", situated close to the so-called "Bocca Grande" (the "Large Mouth" of the crater) and the "Furnaces", from which steam reaches temperatures of around 100° C. One of the most characteristic phenomenon which can be seen inside the crater of Solfatara is the condensation of water vapour which forms little clouds in the presence of a naked flame.


The place is famous above all for the fact that a vast archaeological zone is situated here. The Roman town of "Baiae" began to flourish from the time of the Late Republican Age. During this period thermal waters together with a climate led Romans to build many splendid residences and elegant villas for the Romans aristocracy. During the Imperial Age the territory became the exclusive residence of the Emperors. Baia thus became the stage on which several episodes of the story of Rome under the Caesars were carried out. After the Second World War excavations began in order to bring to the surface some of the conspicuous remains of the Roman town.

Archeological Zone of Baia

The date of these buildings is from the I to the IV century A.D.; the ruins, joined to each other by ramps, staircases and corridors, are divided into sectors – "Sosandra, Mercury and Venus". Sosandra’s Sector, so-named because of a marble bust from that period which was found. Mercury’s Sector was wrongly believed as a temple and it is a circular building whose wall, "in opus reticulatum" held up the hemispherical vault. It was almost certainly used as a thermal installation. The Venus’s Sector was made up of various rooms, one of which held the "Esedra-Nymphaeum" which contained a fountain. Outside the actual archaeological zone, not far from Cumae railway station, is the Temple of Diana. This building is similar to the Temple of Venus.


Baia Castle was built by order of Don Pedro di Toledo, the Spanish viceroy of Naples, in the XVI century in order to protect the riverside locality from the pirate raids. Bacoli is a town with an important fishing industry. The ancient centre of the town, founded by the Greeks, was a favourite spot with the Romans. There are numerous remains of the Roman "Bauli" still to be seen today. The Cento Camerelle (meaning literally a hundred small chambers) is a complex system which provided water to one of the nearby villas of the district. The so-called Piscina Mirabilis is a large Roman cistern which was used by the Roman fleet moored near the Capo Miseno. This is the largest cistern of ancient times and was built during the reign of Augustus. Near the beach stand the ruins of Tomb of Agrippina. However these ruins have nothing to do with the Nero’s mother, who was killed and buried at Bauli on her son’s orders. They are in fact the visible remains of a little theatre connected to a large Roman villa.


The archaeological zone of Cumae is very interesting. One of the first Greek settlements in Southern Italy grew up here, when settlers from Eubea settled here in the VIII century B.C., on the place already occupied during Prehistoric times. The power of the State of Cumae grew rapidly and soon conquered the surrounding region, from Miseno to "Puteoli", creating the basis for the foundation of "Neapolis". Against the Etruscans, Cumae won in the VI and the V centuries B.C.

Archaelogical Zone

The archaelogical site at Cumae is situated between the pine woods at Licola and the so-called Arco Felice. The arch was raised in the 1st century A.D., at the time of Domitian . Nearby is the so-called "Grotta di Cocceio" (The Grotto of Cocceius) which is actually an underground passage which joined the town to the Averno lake. The Acropolis is reached by the "Via Sacra", a road which was constructed using wide slabs of volcanic rock. On the right are the ruins of Apollo’s Temple, a Greek building reconstructed in the Samnite and Roman eras. Between the VI and VII centuries the Temple was turned into a Christian Basilica. On the top of the Acropolis area, a spot from where one can admire an extensive panorama, is the Jupiter’s Temple which is similar in structure to that of Apollo. Its origins are Greek (5th century B.C.), but it was completely reconstructed under Augustus. This was also reconverted to a Christian Basilica during the 5th-6th centuries, and there are well-preserved remains of a baptismal font. One of the most famous features of the archaelogical zone at Cumae is the Cave of the Cumaen Sibyl. This was one of the most visited sanctuaries of the ancient world and was dug out into the tufa rock by Greeks (6th - 5th century B.C.) for about 100 metres. Not far from the tunnel is the entrance to the so-called "Roman Crypt", a huge cavity dug into the Cumaean mountainside.





Capri remains an enchanting island haven in the Bay of Naples. Its breathtaking caves, luxuriant vegetation and the charming narrow laneways of its small towns have attracted visitors for centuries. The best time to visit is spring (April to early July), or mid-autumn (October) after the summer crowds have ebbed away.

Already inhabited in the Old Stone Age, Capri was eventually occupied by the Greeks. In 29 b.C. the emperor Cesar Augustus visited Capri and he was struck by its beauty and bought it from the city of Neapolis (the ancient Naples) in exchange for the nearby isle of Ischia, which was larger and more fertile. Augustus is believed to have founded the world’s first palaeontological museum, in the Villa Augustus, to house fossils and the Stone Age artefacts unearthed by his workers.
His successor, Tiberius, lived on the island from 27 to 37 A.D. and he had twelve villas built : every villa was dedicated to a god of Olympus. He ruled his huge Roman empire from Villa Jovis, whose ruins are still on the Tiberius Mountain.

Geologically the island of Capri is the continuation of the Sorrento Peninsula, which is 5 km (3 miles) away. The origin of the name Capri comes from “kapros” which means a boar, because of these animals so frequent on the isle. Nature, history, celebrities and culture have made Capri one of the greatest tourist attractions in the world.
The “Faraglioni Rocks”, (which are the symbol of the island), the main square “Piazza Umberto I” , (which has been called “the stage of the world” because a lot of famous personalities have been there), the “Gardens of Augustus” (with their colourful flowers and nice sea-view), the “Blue Grotto”, famous all over the world, make this island unique.


Capri’s craggy coast is studded with more than a dozen grottoes, most accessible and spectacular, but none as stunning as this, the “Blue Grotto”. Two Germans, writer Augustus Kopisch and painter Ernst Fries, are credited with discovering the grotto in 1826, but they merely rediscovered and renamed the “Grotta Gradola”, as locals had known it. Remains of Roman work inside, including a carved ledge towards the rear of the cave, were found later. It is believed the cave sank to its present height, about 15 to 20 metres below sea level, blocking every opening except the 1.3-metre-high entrance. This causes the refraction of sunlight off the sides of the cavity, creating the magical blue colour and a reflection of light off the white sandy bottom, giving anything below the surface a silvery glow. The grotto is closed if the sea is too choppy, so before making Your way there, check with the tourist office that it is open.





Especially loved by Germans today, the iskand of Ischia covers an area of 46.33 square kilometers and it is the eighth largest Italian island and the largest in the Bay of Naples. Neighbouring islands are Capri, Procida and Vivara. Known as the Emerald Isle, it is a health resort and a tourist center, celebrated for its warm mineral springs and for its scenery. Deducing from the archaeological remains, Ischia has been inhabited since the prehistoric age. It is sure that the island has been the first Greek colony in the South Italy founded by settlers coming from Eubea in 800 B.C., that named it "Pithekusa" or "Pithekusai". They settled near today's Monte Vico and called that place with the name of the crockery that they made and that was the first economical resource of the island. In the archeoligical museum of Lacco Ameno, we can find the most beautiful remains. The island is divided into 6 municipalities, each one with its own administration: Ischia, Casamicciola Terme, Lacco Ameno, Forio, Barano and Serrara Fontana. Each one has its own distinct character, governed by such factors as altitude, economy, species of tourism, etc. The variation from town to town, district to district, means that there is something to suit all tastes. Ischia Port is undoubtedly the hub of night life and day-tripper activity, but it is a mistake not to move further afield, as all areas are within comfortable travelling distance. The resident population of the whole island is 50,000.

Away from the towns, people still work the land as if they’d never seen a tourist, itself an improbable proposition.


Ferries dock at Ischia Porto, the main tourist centre. It is about a half-hour walk from the pier to Ischia Ponte, an attractive older centre that culminates in the islet bearing the castle. The ruins of the Castello d’Ischia, an Aragonese castle complex on a small islet that includes a XIV century cathedral and several smaller churches, make for an interesting visit while in Ischia Ponte. Monte Epomeo (788 metres) is the island’s highest mountain and can be reached on foot from Panza and Serrara Fontana. It offers superb views of the Bay of Naples. Among the better beaches is the Lido dei Maronti, south of Barano.





Dyonisus of Halicarnassus attributed the foundation of Herculaneum to Heracles (Hercules) whilst he was coming back from Iberia (Spain), and Strabo reports that the town first belonged to the Oscans (VII century b.C.), then to the Etruscans and finally to the Samnites. Like Pompeii and Stabiae, Herculaneum was also forced to enter the orbit of the Nocera confederation. When it rebelled against Rome during the Social War, it was attacked and conquered in 89 b.C. by the envoy of Silla, Titus Didius, and was thereafter involved in the municipalization process that affected all central-Southern Italy.

The disastrous earthquake in 62 a.D. made many buildings hazardous, and the empereur Vespasian financed the restoration of a big part of the town. But in 79 a.D. the terrible eruption of Vesuvius took place: a huge pyroclastic muddy flow flooded the town and when it hardened it became solid as rock.

For more than 1500 years Herculaneum has been buried undisturbed and the excavations of this town began quite by accident in 1709 when during the digging of a well, some workers discovered a wall which was later found to be one of the stages of the ancient theatre. Initially a series of tunnels were dug to strip the site of any saleable valuables. However, officially the excavations of Herculaneum started in 1738 by will of the king of Naples Charles of Bourbon under the supervision of Rocco Gioacchino Alcubierre and then his assistant Carlo Weber.

A basic plan of the town was mapped out and much of the portable remains removed but eventually these tunnels collapsed and were closed down. The modern towns of Resina and Portici grew up over the site and knowledge of where the entrances to the tunnels were was lost to the scientific community. In 1927 Amedeo Maiuri began the works once again and they continued till the present day.

The town was approximately 20 hectares with a population of roughly 4000 inhabitants. The city layout appears to be divided along at least three “decumani” (roads running from East to West) and only two of them have been fully uncovered. The modest size of Herculaneum might discourage a visit of these ruins to the advantage of the better known, larger and monumental Pompeii.

But the particular way of preservation under flows of pyroclastic rock has preserved the town absolutely in an original way and nothing at all like Pompeii, providing us with frescos, mosaics, statues, beautiful artifacts, etc. That special condition preserved also magnificent organic artifacts (plants, furniture and parts of wooden buildings, even a boat recovered from the ancient marina in 1982) and also the upper floors of the buildings. In addition archeologists found pieces of cloth, food (such as chick-peas, loaves of bread, etc.) and splendid jewelleries which offer a detailed information about the everyday life of the ancient inhabitants of the Neapolitan area. A lot of human skeletons too were discovered on the spot where once the shoreline was, suggesting that numerous inhabitants attempted to escape but perished because of the volcanic toxic gases coming ouf from Vesuvius during the eruption.

One of the most important and fascinating discoveries was the excavation of “Villa of the Papyri”, a suburban Roman villa near Herculaneum, where a large number of ancient papyri written in Greek and Latin, were found together with marvellous bronze and marble statues. The ancient papyri, most of which dealing with the philosophical subjects of Epicurean inspiration are preserved in the Royal Palace of Naples.




Naples is the third-largest city in Italy with a population of 800,000 inhabitants. During his visit, Goethe wrote that: “a man, who has seen Naples, can never be sad”. It is shaped in the form of semicircle, between the volcanic amphitheaters of the Flegrean fields and Vesuvius. The life and vitality of Neapolitan people give Naples the feel of a “real city” – Italy’s version of New York. Naples has a little bit of everything: the old centre, once the heart of the Neapolis of Antiquity and now jammed with ancient churches, a medieval university and countless restaurants and cafés, pulsates to the life of noisy street markets and their clientele, swarms of people darting about on mopeds, and the general chaos of a city at work.

Few Historycal Information

Soon after founding Cumae in 1000 b.C., colonists from Rhodes established a settlement on the west side of Mt Vesuvius and, according to legend, named it after the siren "Parthenope". It was later known as "Palepolis", “the old city”. Later, during the V century b.C. "Neapolis", “the new town” was founded by Greek settlers coming from Eubea. In the IV century b.C. the city fell under Rome and became an ally of the powerful neighbouring city. Anyway Naples kept its Greek culture and due to the attractions offered by its countryside and climate Roman nobility settled there and built splendid villas. The spread of Christianity brought persecutions to Naples. The most famous victim was Saint Gennaro (Januarius), bishop of Benevento, who suffered martyrdom at Pozzuoli (IV century b.C.). After that he was made patron saint of the city. The breaking up of the Roman Empire brought the conquest by the Goths (V century) who were followed by the Byzantines. During the VIII century Naples became a self-governing duchy and managed to preserve its indipendence. With the Norman conquest under Roger d’Altavilla (1139) the downward trend of Naples’ predominance started and the capital city of the kingdom became Palermo. After the constitution of the “Free Commune”, there was the Swabian decline and the arrival of the Angevins. The Angevin period brought about an urban revival and marked a new development in the cultural life. Under the Aragonese rule the city took part in the dispute between the Spanish and the French, but the subsequent Spanish rule was one of the most troublesome periods in the history of Naples, marked by frequent uprisings by the population (that of Masaniello in 1647 is famous) and tormented by epidemic of the plague. Later conquered by the Austrians and delivered to Charles of Bourbon, Naples regained its former splendour as capital of an autonomous kingdom (1734). In 1860 Garibaldi invaded and joined it to Piedmont.


Naples streches along the waterfront and is divided into "quartieri" (quarters) – most street signs bear the name of the quarter as well. The main train station , "Stazione Centrale", and bus station are off "Piazza Garibaldi", just east of "Spaccanapoli", the old city. A wide shopping street, "Corso Umberto I", skirts the southern edge of "Spaccanapoli", the ancient heart of Naples, on its way south-west from "Piazza Garibaldi" to "Piazza Bovio" and on the huge "Piazza Municipio", which is dominated by the "Castel Nuovo". From the waterfront directly behind the castle you can find boats to the bay islands, Palermo and other long-distance destinations.
The "Royal Palace", the former royal palace, is next to the castle. From the palace, head north for Naples’ main street, "Via Toledo", wich becomes "Via Roma" for a short stretch after it crosses "Piazza Carità", and you will reach "Piazza Dante", on the western boundary of "Spaccanapoli". The road continues as "Via Santa Teresa degli Scalzi" and then "Parco di Capodimonte" north of the centre.
The extensions of two of Naples’more original streets, via "Benedetto Croce" (which becomes "Via San Biagio dei Librai) and "Via dei Tribunali", eventually meet "Via Roma". Most street life and many of the city’s artisans can be found in this area. "Via San Biagio dei Librai" is part of an almost straight run from near the "Stazione Centrale" through "Spaccanapoli" to the foot of the hilltop Vomero district. On the bay to the south-west are the more fashionable area of "Santa Lucia and Mergellina", with its semi-grand waterfront boulevard, "Via Caracciolo" (from where more boats head for the islands). Rising up from "Mergellina" is the up-market "Vomero" district, dominated by the "Castel Sant’Elmo" and the "Certosa of San Martino", a Cartusian monastery which can be seen from all over the city.




Royal Palace of Naples: the room of the Throne

The Royal Palace of Naples was built as the king of Spain Philip III was supposed to be coming to visit Naples and it was felt that the other royal residences were not suitable for a king to stay in. The Royal Palace was designed by Domenico Fontana at the beginning of the XVII century as the viceroy Ferrante di Castro wanted to be built. But in the XVIII century it was restored by Luigi Vanvitelli. Some of the arches of the façade were filled with niches as the architect Vanvitelli thought that the palace was in danger of collapsing as it wasn’t stable. Later Gioacchino Murat and Carolina Bonaparte decorated the royal palace with neoclassical furniture and porcelain (China ware). In 1837 a fire broke out and damaged the building. That is the reason why it was restored by Gaetano Genovese. It was damaged also during the last war and then it was renewed once again. In 1888 the king of Italy, Umberto I placed in the arches of the façade 8 statues representing the most important kings of the various dynasties who ruled Naples over the centuries: Roger the Norman, Frederick II of Swabia, Charles I of Anjou, Alfonso I of Aragon, Charles V of Spain, Charles of Bourbon, Joachim Murat, Victor Emanuel II.

Nowadays its first floor has been transformed into a museum and it houses the National Library.

As regards the museum, it is difficult to describe each room, but noteworthy in particular are the Theatre, The throne Room and the Great Capitan’s Room..

The Theatre:
It was the Old Ball Room turned into the Royal Theatre by Ferdinando Fuga in 1768. Half destroyed by a bomb during the last war, it was restored in the middle of this century. It was transformed into the Royal Thetre when the king Ferdinand IV of Bourbon married Maria Carolina of Austria. It is decorated in rococò style and the paper-pulp statues surrounding the hall represent the Muses, Minerva, Apollon and Mercury. In 1994 the G7 members met in that room.

The Throne Room:
The Throne room is in Empire style and dates back to the year 1850. In the vault there are 14 female figures symbolizing the various districts of the Bourbon Kingdom. In front of the throne there is portait of Ferdinand I of Bourbon who is pointing out the church of San Francesco di Paola, which is in front of the Royal Building. On the right and on the left of the throne two paintings represent the ambassadors of Tripoli and of Turkey. In the same room another painting showes Victor Emanuel III, king of Naples, when he was a boy: he was born in that building in 1869. The chandelier is made of crystal from Bohemia.

The Great Capitan’s Room:
This room is dedicated to Don Salvo de Cordoba, the Spanish capitain who conquered the Kingdom of Naples in 1503. Since then Naples was no longer the capital of the kingdom but just the capital of one of the Spanish dominions. The vault was painted by Battistello Caracciolo and it represents the great capitain. In the same room a precious portait of Pier Luigi Farnese by Tiziano Vecellio is kept.





Nowadays Pompeii is one of the most famous and visited archaeological sites in the world. The origin of the city is uncertain: the oldest reports date back to the 7th century B.C. In Roman times its ideal location and its magnificent scenery led many wealthy Romans to build villas there.

Unfortunately the city was much damaged by an earthquake in 62 A.D and on the 24th August of 79 A.D. was completely demolished by an eruption of Mount Vesuvius together with the ancient Roman resort towns of Herculaneum and Stabiae. Even the memory of its exact location was lost over the centuries. For more than 1500 years Pompeii has been buried undisturbed beneath heaps of ashes and cinders until it was rediscovered in 1748. Among the most significant aspects of the discoveries at Pompeii is the remarkable degree of preservation of the ancient objects.

The showers of wet ashes and cinders that accompanied the eruption formed a hermetic seal on the town, preserving many public structures, temples, theaters, baths, shops, and private dwellings. In addition, remnants of some of the 2000 victims (about 5,000 people lived in the city at the time of the eruption) of the disaster were found in the ruins of Pompeii, including several gladiators who had been placed in chains to prevent them from escaping or committing suicide. Ashes, mixed with rain, had settled around the bodies in moulds that remained after the bodies themselves had turned into dust.

In the years 1860-75 Giuseppe Fiorelli takes charge of the excavations, developing a technique of casting bodies. Fiorelli's masterstroke was to devise a method of injecting plaster into the spaces left vacant by the flesh as it decomposed, enabling him to recover the shapes of the bodies as they had fallen. We have also learned much about how they died during the eruption. There are numerous moulds of people in their final moments.

Moreover to simplify study and orientation, Fiorelli divided the city into regiones (neighbourhoods) and insulae (blocks). Today the city with its buildings, the temples, the streets with the ruts made by chariot wheels in the paving blocks, even the walls with inscription of various type, tell astounded visitors the story of ancient Roman everyday life.

The Ruins of Pompeii are open:

From April to October
- from 8.30 am to 7.30 pm , but visitors can access the excavations till 6.00 pm

From November to March
- from 8.30 am to 5.00 pm , but visitors can access the excavations till 3.30 pm





The works of the building that houses the Archeological Museum of Naples carried out between 1582 and 1586 by order of the Duke of Ossuna and designed by the architect Giulio Cesare Fontana. It had to be the Royal Riding School, but when they realized that there was no water in that place, the stable was abandoned. In 1615 it was inaugured as the "Palace of Royal Studies", the seat of the University of Naples. When the university moved elsewhere in 1777, King Ferdinand IV commissioned the restauration of the building from the architect Ferdinando Fuga in order to adapt it to accommodate the Bourbon Museum and Royal Library.

In 1797 this building housed the Herculaneum Museum, the Picture Gallery and the very famous Farnsese Collection which Charles of Bourbon inherited from his mother Elisabetta Farnese, wife of Philip, in 1731. During the XVIII and the XIX centuries the museum continued to receive a lot of artifacts, both from private collections and from excavations of Pompeii, Herculaneum, Stabiae, Paestum, Cuma or elsewhere in Southern Italy.

These archaeological treasures represent one of the most comprehensive and complete Greek and Roman collections in the world. The musuem could be divided into different sections:

  • Marble and bronze statues: worthy of note are “The Lance bearer” by Policletus, Farnese Hercules, the bas-relief of Orfeus and Eurydice, Farnese Bull.
  • Collection of gems
  • Egyptian section
  • Mosaics: this section is one of the most important in the world: we can mention in particular the biggest mosaic floor in the world “TheBattle of Alexander”, the biggest mosaic floor in the world representing great Macedonian emperor. Once it paved the floor in the Casa del Fauno at Pompeii. In addition other mosaics portraying animals, scenes from every-day life, musicians and even Plato with his students are kept.
  • Section dedicated to the “Pisoni Villa” where statues from that big dwelling are kept
  • Silverware, glazed earthenware and weapon collection
  • Frescos mostly coming from the ruins of Pompeii, Herculaneum and Stabiae
  • Vases

Museo Archeologico Nazionale

Piazza Museo tel.081440166
orario :
feriali 9.00 - 19.30
festivi 9.00 - 19.30
la biglietteria chiude alle ore 18.00
chiuso il martedì
ingresso: euro 6,50 per i visitatori dai 18 ai 65 anni,gratuito per gli altri

The Naples Archaeological Museum is recognized as having the finest and most complete collection of works of art, objects and documentation from classical times. This collection includes over 20,000 items, produced according to object type and in inventory sequence. Items include bronzes, ceramics, sculpture, wall paintings, jewellery, terracotta items, objects in gold and silver, ivories, mosaics, utensils, Latin inscriptions and frescoes. The collection depicts portraits, still lives, mythical subjects, scenes from daily life, and erotic works of the museo segreto. It documents beliefs, personalities, religions and views of the outside world.




Antea by the painter Parmigianino

Conceived as a country house, the Royal Palace of Capodimonte assumed the stature of a Royal Palace, enriched by a magnificent park, whose avenues were designed by the great Neapolitan architect Sanfelice. When Charles inherited the marvellous Farnese collection from his mother, Elisabeth Farnese, he wanted to place it in the new palace. Built in 1816, a great part of the collection was transferred to the National Museum, where the paintings, bronzes and Pompeii statues stood. Now the collection has been restored to its original home, so leaving more space for the archeological collection of the National Museum.

After the last war, the future of the great Royal Palace, immersed with its red-grey immensity in the XVIII century park, seemed uncertain. No one had lived in it since the accession of the House of Savoy, when it had been assigned to the house of Aosta. The idea of installing the Aeronautic Academy was proposed, and it was suggested breaking up the park and disfiguring the monumental building of great importance. The Superintendent of Works of Art for Campania, Bruno Molajoli, conducted a lively campaign to use the palace as a museum, making it an art gallery worthy of Naples, transporting the pictures that crowded the Museum, which for its part needed more space to devote to its own archeological collection. The idea was agreed to and Naples now has one of the most modern museums in Europe set in sumptuous surroundings, with the most functional lighting, heating and restoration facilites. It seems as though we are back in the times of Charles of Bourbon, when the site of Capodimonte seethed with art, and the activities of the porcelain factory, which was in the park itself, made the name of Capodimonte famous.

There are hundred rooms, restored and rearranged, as well as the picture gallery. Among the pictures are the monumental Crucifixion by Masaccio, Botticelli’s Madonna with Angels, the famous Gypsy by Correggio, Giambellino’s Transfiguration, Sebastiano del Piombo’s Clement VII, and the wonderful portraits by Parmigianino and Titian. There are also works by Raphael, Pinturicchio, Luca Signorelli, Goya, Perugino, Simone Martini, Colantonio, Bruegel. In addition to the classic paintings there is a copious collection of the XIX century Neapolitan art, with Gigante, Migliaro, Mancini, Michetti and others. Also there are collections of Renaissance armour, ivory, crystal and the famous porcelain salon: a room whose walls are entirely covered in porcelain, with a great chandelier hanging from the ceiling, shattered by bombs and miraculously reconstructed. Today thousand of rare and precious objects present the visitor with a wonderful variety; and when the eye has had its fill of the wonders of art, one has merely to step on to the tufa balconies and breathe the pure air of the Park, and gaze upon the sea in the bay, between the tall trees.

The Museum was opened in 1957 and is not yet widely known throughout the world; but those who have visited this surprising and delightful place have realised that, with this achievement, Naples has been able to reaffirm its cultural tradition. The rest of the rooms with their comfortable settees, smoking room, heating and electrical ventilation, modern lifts, bar and panoramic terrace, all go to make the visit to the hundred rooms of the Museum a pleasant one. The Museum’s picture restoration rooms are among the finest in Europe.





According to the historian Cesare d'Engenio (1642), this chapel was probably first built around 1590. At this time Giovan Francesco di Sangro, Duke of Torremaggiore, had just had a serious illness and he had the little chapel built to the Virgin of Mercy in his garden in sign of gratitude for his recovery. In 1608 Alessandro di Sangro, son of Giovan Francesco, had the chapel enlarged "because it was not able to hold all the people who came to see the endless miracles performed there". The chapel also became a burial place for members of the family, in addition to being a place of worship.

Little is known about the chapel in the XVII century, because the building as it is now dates back to Raimondo di Sangro's alterations carried out in the XVIII century, which were so extensive as to change the previous decor. The name of the architect who originally directed the works is unknown, but he probably followed the wishes of his client, as the simplicity of the rectangular plan without a real apse, and the large number of statues and decorative items would lead one to suppose that there was no specific plan.

There was probably much of the typical XVII century love for decoration in the chapel, as Pompeo Samelli remarks in 1697 that the chapel is "pleasingly enriched with very fine work in marble, and with statues of many famous members of the family and their epitaphs".

The most interesting period in the history of the chapel starts around 1742. Prince Raimondo di Sangro, (1710-1771) who personally supervised the alterations, perfectly embodied the spirit of the century where he lived. A particularly skilful soldier, a scientist and alchemist, his insatiable curiosity caused him to become a legend in his time.

In 1749, the artist Francesco Maria Russo completed the great fresco on the ceiling and the trompe-l'oeil decoration with medallions in tones of green of the six Saints in the family. Russo also designed the statue of Raimondo di Sangro which stands at the entrance to the underground cavea.

In the middle of the presbytery is the extremely large and theatrical work by Francesco Celebrano, the Deposition, made like a "painting in marble", and on both sides are Chastity by Antonio Corradini (left), and Disenchantment by Francesco Queirolo (right). The former was made when the sculptor, who was famous all over Europe, came to Naples at an advanced age - he was, in fact, to die the following year. It has been said that this work, notable for its sensuality, is more suitable for an art-gallery than a church, although it is supposed to represent the great virtue of Cecilia Gaetani, the Prince's mother; the blend of holy and profane thought, was the most remarkable artistic feature of this period.

The second sculpture, by the Genoan Francesco Queirolo, is real virtuos work: he fashioned a net thrown over a male figure trying to get out of it, and this must have been an incredibly difficult task.

The last sculpture is certainly the finest and has become the simbol of the chapel - the Veiled Christ by Giuseppe Sanmartino. Until the recent discovery of the original sketch for this sculpture (made in 1753), it was attributed to a sketch by Corradini. It is now known that Sanmartino, a Neapolitan sculptor, was commissioned to make this piece and that it was to be placed in the cavea, illuminated from above by the "eternal lamps" invented by the Prince and not where it is placed now - in the centre of the nave. With the original position in mind, Sanmartino studies the effects of light on the intricate folds of the shroud covering the body, lying on the cushions. In this superb play of light and shadow, death is no longer seen as a painful separation from life, but as a poetic moment. This poetry originated from the sculptor's amazing technical skill, which can be seen in many of the works made during his long career. This sculpture is one of his early ones, and the languid atmosphere of pre-Romanticism can be strongly felt here. So striking was this piece, that another famous sculptor - Antonio Canova - wanted to buy it during a visit to Naples, but fortunately for Naples that purchase was never made.