ItalianNotebook – Italy Travel Blog

A View with a City

App or map, you have to orientate yourself in an unfamiliar city. In Naples the view from the Castel Sant’Elmo is an excellent place to begin.

The first thing you’ll notice is the large conical object across the bay. It’s often veiled in the pale blue of distance or swathed in summer haze, but we know it’s there and we’re keeping an eye on it.

Another striking feature of this view is the cheese-cutter line across the city. This street survives from the Greco-Roman city of Neapolis and is popularly called Spaccanapoli or ‘Naples-splitter’. This area has an noisy, chaotic and thrilling culture of its own and must be experienced. Eat pizza here, explore the mysterious underground of the city, buy a Christmas ornament, visit a Caravaggio.

Zooming in on Spaccanapoli you can see the green roof of Santa Chiara whose majolica cloister remains one of the many marvels of Naples. Throw a rock in the centro storico and you’ll hit a church. I’ll be interested to hear what else happens.

Turning a little, you see the Galleria Umberto with its dome and glass-vaulted wings – late 19th century elegance newly restored. And across the road is the San Carlo Opera House, part of the royal palace behind. Both have truly sumptuous interiors. The open space is the Piazza del Plebiscito, till quite recently a bus park but now once more a dynamic public space for civic celebrations, concerts and impromptu late night football matches among the local lads.

And who’s this? This is one of the wonderful works by Mimmo Paladino to be see throughout the city. If this fellow could turn around, he’d see another straight road, Monte di Dio, where President Napolitano was raised, not far from the Nunziatella military academy, the red building at the end of the street.

This covers about 90º of the panorama and we’ve only just begun…

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