Naples is one of the oldest continuously-inhabited cities in the world. Bronze Age Greek settlements were established on the site in the 2nd millennium BC, with a larger mainland colony – initially known as Parthenope – developing around the 9th–8th centuries BC, at the end of the Greek Dark Ages. The city was refounded as Neápolis in the 6th century BC and became a lynchpin of Magna Graecia, playing a key role in the merging of Greek culture into Roman society and eventually becoming a cultural centre of the Roman Republic. Naples remained influential after the fall of the Western Roman Empire, serving as the capital city of the Kingdom of Naples between 1282 and 1816. Thereafter, in union with Sicily, it became the capital of the Two Sicilies until the unification of Italy in 1861. During the Neapolitan War of 1815, Naples strongly promoted Italian unification.
Naples was the most-bombed Italian city during World War II. Much of the city’s 20th-century periphery was constructed under Benito Mussolini‘s fascist government, and during reconstruction efforts after World War II. In recent decades, Naples has constructed a large business district, the Centro Direzionale, and has developed an advanced transport infrastructure, including an Alta Velocità high-speed rail link to Rome and Salerno, and an expanded subway network, which is planned to eventually cover half of the region. The city has experienced significant economic growth in recent decades, and unemployment levels in the city and surrounding Campania have decreased since 1999. However, Naples is still characterized by political and economic corruption and a thriving black market, and unemployment levels remain high.
Naples has the fourth-largest urban economy in Italy, after Milan, Rome and Turin. It is the world’s 103rd-richest city by purchasing power, with an estimated 2008 GDP of $51 billion, surpassing the economies of Prague and Copenhagen. The port of Naples is one of the most important in Europe, and has the world’s second-highest level of passenger flow, after the port of Hong Kong. Numerous major Italian companies, such as MSC Cruises Italy S.p.A, are headquartered in Naples. The city also hosts NATO‘s Allied Joint Force Command Naples, the SRM Institution for Economic Research and the OPE Company and Study Centre. Naples is a full member of the Eurocities network of European cities. The city was selected to become the headquarters of the European institution ACP/UE and as a City of Literature by UNESCO‘s Creative Cities Network. The Villa Rosebery, one of the three official residences of the President of Italy, is located in the city’s Posillipo district.
Naples’ historic city centre is the largest in Europe, covering 1,700 hectares (4,200 acres), and is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Over the course of its long history, Naples has been the capital of duchies, kingdoms, and one Empire, and has consistently been a major cultural centre with a global sphere of influence, particularly during the Renaissance and Enlightenment eras. In the immediate vicinity of Naples are numerous sites of great cultural and historical significance, including the Palace of Caserta and the Roman ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Culinarily, the city is synonymous with pizza, which originated in the city. Neapolitan music has furthermore been highly influential, credited with the invention of the romantic guitar and the mandolin, as well as notable contributions to opera and folk standards. Popular characters and historical figures who have come to symbolise the city include Januarius, the patron saint of Naples, the comic figure Pulcinella, and the Sirens from the Greek epic poem the Odyssey.
|— Comune —|
|Comune di Napoli|
Location of Naples in Italy
|Coordinates: 40°50′N 14°15′E|
|• Mayor||Luigi de Magistris (Italy of Values)|
|• Total||117.27 km2 (45.28 sq mi)|
|Elevation||17 m (56 ft)|
|Population (2012 estimate)|
|• Total||959,574 (city)
~4 million (metro area)
|Time zone||CET (UTC+1)|
|• Summer (DST)||CEST (UTC+2)|
|Postal code||80100, 80121-80147|
|Saint day||September 19|
Greek birth, Roman acquisition
The Naples area has been inhabited since the Neolithic period. The earliest Greek settlements were established in the Naples region in the 2nd millennium BC. Sailors from the Greek island of Rhodes established a small commercial port on the island of Megaride in the 9th century BC. In the 8th century BC, a larger settlement called Parthenope (Παρθενόπη) was founded by settlers from Cumae as part of Italy’s Magna Graecia region of Greek colonisation. In the 6th century BC, after the decline of Parthenope, the new urban zone of Neápolis (Νεάπολις) was founded, eventually becoming one of the foremost cities of Magna Graecia.
The new city grew rapidly due to the influence of the powerful Greek city-state of Syracuse, and became an ally of the Roman Republic against Carthage; the strong walls surrounding Neápolis stopped the invading forces of the Carthaginian general Hannibal from entering. During the Samnite Wars, the city, now a bustling centre of trade, was captured by the Samnites; however, the Romans soon captured the city from them and made it a Roman colony.
Naples was greatly respected by the Romans as a paragon of Hellenistic culture. During the Roman era, the people of Naples maintained their Greek language and customs, while the city was expanded with elegant Roman villas, aqueducts, and public baths. Landmarks such as the Temple of Dioscures were built, and many powerful emperors chose to holiday in the city, including Claudius and Tiberius. Naples became a major Roman cultural centre; Virgil, the author of Rome’s national epic, the Aeneid, received part of his education in the city, and later resided in its environs.
It was during this period that Christianity first arrived in Naples; the apostles Peter and Paul are said to have preached in the city. St. Januarius, who would become Naples’ patron saint, was martyred there in the 4th century AD. The last emperor of the Western Roman Empire, Romulus Augustulus, was exiled to Naples by the Germanic king Odoacer in the 5th century AD.
Duchy of Naples
Following the decline of the Western Roman Empire, Naples was captured by the Ostrogoths, a Germanic people, and incorporated into the Ostrogothic Kingdom. However, Belisarius of the Byzantine Empire recaptured Naples in 536, after entering the city via the aqueduct.
As the Gothic Wars of the mid-6th century wore on, Totila briefly took the city for the Ostrogoths in 543, before, finally, the Battle of Mons Lactarius on the slopes of Vesuvius left the Byzantines in control of the area. Naples was expected to keep in contact with the Exarchate of Ravenna, which was the centre of Byzantine power on the Italian peninsula.
After the exarchate fell, a Duchy of Naples was created. Although Naples’ Greco-Roman culture endured, it eventually switched allegiance from Constantinople to Rome under Duke Stephen II, putting it under papal suzerainty by 763.
The years between 818 and 832 were tumultuous in regard to Naples’ relations with the Byzantine Emperor, with numerous local pretenders feuding for possession of the ducal throne. Theoctistus was appointed without imperial approval; this was later revoked and Theodore II took his place. However, the disgruntled general populace chased him from the city, and instead elected Stephen III, a man who minted coins with his own initials, rather than those of the Byzantine Emperor. Naples gained complete independence by the early 9th century.
The duchy was under the direct control of the Lombards for a brief period, after the capture by Pandulf IV of the Principality of Capua, a long-term rival of Naples; however, this regime lasted only three years before the Greco-Roman-influenced dukes were reinstated. By the 11th century, Naples had begun to hire Norman merecenaries, the Christian descendants of the Vikings, to battle their rivals; Duke Sergius IV hired Rainulf Drengot to wage war on Capua for him.
By 1137, the Normans had attained great influence in Italy, controlling previously independent principalities and duchies such as Capua, Benevento, Salerno, Amalfi, Sorrento and Gaeta; it was in this year that Naples, the last independent duchy in the southern part of the peninsula, came under Norman control. The last ruling duke of the duchy, Sergius VII, was forced to surrender to Roger II, who had proclaimed himself King of Sicily seven years earlier; Naples thus joined the Kingdom of Sicily, where Palermo was the capital.
Kingdom of Naples
Norman to Angevin
After a period of Norman rule, the Kingdom of Sicily went to the Hohenstaufens, a German royal house. The University of Naples Federico II, the oldest state university in the world, was founded by Frederick II, making Naples the intellectual centre of the kingdom. Conflict between the Hohenstaufens and the Papacy led in 1266 to Pope Innocent IV crowning the Angevin duke Charles I King of Sicily: Charles officially moved the capital from Palermo to Naples, where he resided at the Castel Nuovo. During this period, many examples of Gothic architecture sprang up around Naples, including the Naples Cathedral, which remains the city’s main church.
In 1282, after the Sicilian Vespers, the Kingdom of Sicily was split in half. The Angevin Kingdom of Naples included the southern part of the Italian peninsula, while the island of Sicily became the Aragonese Kingdom of Sicily. Wars between the competing dynasties continued until the Peace of Caltabellotta in 1302, which saw Frederick III recognized as king of Sicily, while Charles II was recognised as king of Naples by Pope Boniface VIII. Despite the split, Naples grew in importance, attracting Pisan and Genoese merchants, Tuscan bankers, and some of the most prominent Renaissance artists of the time, such as Boccaccio, Petrarch and Giotto. During the 14th century, the Hungarian Angevin king Louis the Great captured the city several times. In 1442, Alfonso I conquered Naples after his victory against the last Angevin king, René, and Naples was unified with Sicily again for a brief period.
Aragonese to Bourbon
Sicily and Naples were separated in 1458, but remained dependencies of Aragon under Ferdinand I. The new dynasty enhanced Naples’ commercial standing by establishing relations with the Iberian peninsula. Naples also became a centre of the Renaissance, with artists such as Laurana, da Messina, Sannazzaro and Poliziano arriving in the city. In 1501, Naples came under direct rule from France under Louis XII, with the Neapolitan king Frederick being taken as a prisoner to France; however, this state of affairs did not last long, as Spain won Naples from the French at the Battle of Garigliano in 1503.
Following the Spanish victory, Naples became part of the Spanish Empire, and remained so throughout the Spanish Habsburg period. The Spanish sent viceroys to Naples to directly deal with local issues: the most important of these viceroys was Pedro Álvarez de Toledo, who was responsible for considerable social, economic and urban reforms in the city; he also supported the activities of the Inquisition.
By the 17th century, Naples had become Europe’s 2nd-largest city – second only to London – and the largest European Mediterranean city, with around 250,000 inhabitants. The city was a major cultural centre during the Baroque era, being home to artists such as Caravaggio, Salvator Rosa and Bernini, philosophers such as Bernardino Telesio, Giordano Bruno, Tommaso Campanella and Giambattista Vico, and writers such as Giambattista Marino. A revolution led by the local fisherman Masaniello saw the creation of a brief independent Neapolitan Republic in 1647, though this lasted only a few months before Spanish rule was reasserted. In 1656, an outbreak of bubonic plague killed about half of Naples’ 300,000 inhabitants.
In 1714, Spanish rule over Naples came to an end as a result of the War of the Spanish Succession; the Austrian Charles VI ruled the city from Vienna through viceroys of his own. However, the War of the Polish Succession saw the Spanish regain Sicily and Naples as part of a personal union, with the 1738 Treaty of Vienna recognising the two polities as independent under a cadet branch of the Spanish Bourbons.
During the time of Ferdinand IV, the effects of the French Revolution were felt in Naples: Horatio Nelson, an ally of the Bourbons, even arrived in the city in 1798 to warn against the French republicans. Ferdinand was forced to retreat and fled to Palermo, where he was protected by a British fleet. However, Naples’ lower class lazzaroni were strongly pious and royalist, favouring the Bourbons; in the mêlée that followed, they fought the Neapolitan pro-Republican aristocracy, causing a civil war.
Eventually, the Republicans conquered Castel Sant’Elmo and proclaimed a Parthenopaean Republic, secured by the French Army. A counter-revolutionary religious army of lazzaroni known as the sanfedisti under Fabrizio Ruffo was raised; they met with great success, and the French were forced to surrender the Neapolitan castles, with their fleet sailing back to Toulon.
Ferdinand IV was restored as king; however, after only seven years Napoleon conquered the kingdom and installed Bonapartist kings, including his brother Joseph Bonaparte. With the help of the Austrian Empire and its allies, the Bonapartists were defeated in the Neapolitan War, and Ferdinand IV once again regained the throne and the kingdom. The Congress of Vienna in 1815 saw the kingdoms of Naples and Sicily combined to form the Two Sicilies, with Naples as the capital city. In 1839, Naples became the first city on the Italian peninsula to have a railway, with the construction of the Naples–Portici railway.
Italian unification and the present day
After the Expedition of the Thousand led by Giuseppe Garibaldi, which culminated in the controversial Siege of Gaeta, Naples became part of the Kingdom of Italy in 1861 as part of the Italian unification, ending the era of Bourbon rule. The kingdom of the Two Sicilies had been wealthy, and as many as 443.2 million ducats were taken from the old kingdom’s banks as a contribution to the new Italian treasury. The economy of the area formerly known as the Two Sicilies collapsed, leading to an unprecedented wave of emigration, with an estimated 4 million people emigrating from the Naples area between 1876 and 1913.
In 1884, Naples fell victim to a major cholera epidemic, caused largely by the city’s poor sewerage infrastructure. Government measures to improve sanitary conditions in the Neapolitan slums in 1885 proved largely ineffective. During the early 20th century, efforts to industrialise the city were likewise hampered by administrative corruption and a lack of infrastructure. Facing a slumping economy, many poorer Neapolitans emigrated northwards, or headed overseas to the United States and Argentina.
Naples was the most-bombed Italian city of World War II. Though Neapolitans did not rebel under Italian Fascism, Naples was the first Italian city to rise up against German military occupation; the city was completely freed by 1 October 1943, when British and American forces entered the city. The symbol of the rebirth of Naples was the rebuilding of the church of Santa Chiara, which had been destroyed in a United States Army Air Corps bombing raid.
Special funding from the Italian government’s Fund for the South was provided from 1950 to 1984, helping the Neapolitan economy to improve somewhat, with city landmarks such as the Piazza del Plebiscito being renovated. However, high unemployment and waste management problems continue to affect Naples; Italian media have attributed the city’s waste disposal issues to the activity of the Camorra organised crime network. In 2007, Silvio Berlusconi‘s government held senior meetings in Naples to demonstrate their intention to solve these problems. However, the late-2000s recession had a severe impact on the city, intensifying its waste-management and unemployment problems. By August 2011, the number of unemployed in the Naples area had risen to 250,000, sparking public protests against the economic situation. In June 2012, allegations of blackmail, extortion and illicit contract tendering emerged in relation to the city’s waste management issues.
Naples hosted the 63rd International Astronautical Congress in October 2012, and will also be the host of the 2013 Universal Forum of Cultures. The city additionally hosted the 6th World Urban Forum in September 2012.
- See also, Buildings and structures in Naples
|Historic Centre of Naples|
|Name as inscribed on the World Heritage List|
|Inscription||1995 (19th Session)|
Naples’ 2,800-year-history has left it with a wealth of historical buildings and monuments, from medieval castles to classical ruins. The most prominent forms of architecture visible in present-day Naples are the Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque styles. The historic centre of Naples is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Naples has a total of 448 historical churches, making it one of the most Catholic cities in the world in terms of the number of places of worship.
Piazzas, palaces and castles
- See also, List of palaces in Naples
The main city square or piazza of the city is the Piazza del Plebiscito. Its construction was begun by the Bonapartist king Joachim Murat and finished by the Bourbon king Ferdinand IV. The piazza bounded on the east by the Royal Palace and on the west by the church of San Francesco di Paola, with the colonnades extending on both sides. Nearby is the Teatro di San Carlo, which is the oldest and largest opera house in Italy. Directly across from San Carlo is Galleria Umberto, a shopping centre and social hub.
Naples is well known for its historic castles: the ancient Castel Nuovo, also known as Maschio Angioino, is one of the city’s foremost landmarks; it was built during the time of Charles I, the first king of Naples. Castel Nuovo has seen many notable historical events: for example, in 1294, Pope Celestine V resigned as pope in a hall of the castle, and following this Pope Boniface VIII was elected pope by the cardinal collegium, before moving to Rome. The castle which Nuovo replaced in importance was the Norman-founded Castel dell’Ovo (“Egg Castle”), which was built on the tiny islet of Megarides, where the original Cumaean colonists had founded the city. The third Neapolitan castle of note is Sant’Elmo, which was completed in 1329 and is built in the shape of a star. During the uprising of Masaniello in 1647, the Spanish took refuge in Sant’Elmo to escape the revolutionaries.
Naples is widely known for its wealth of historical museums. The Naples National Archaeological Museum is one of the city’s main museums, with one of the most extensive collections of artifacts of the Roman Empire in the world. It also houses many of the antiques unearthed at Pompeii and Herculaneum, as well as some artifacts from the Greek and Renaissance periods.
Previously a Bourbon palace, now a museum and art gallery, the Museo di Capodimonte is another museum of note. The gallery features paintings from the 13th to the 18th centuries, including major works by Simone Martini, Raphael, Titian, Caravaggio, El Greco, Jusepe de Ribera and Luca Giordano. The royal apartments are furnished with antique 18th-century furniture and a collection of porcelain and majolica from the various royal residences: the famous Capodimonte Porcelain Factory once stood just adjacent to the palace.
In front of the Royal Palace of Naples stands the Galleria Umberto I, which contains the Coral Jewellery Museum. Occupying a 19th-century palazzo renovated by the Portuguese architect Álvaro Siza, the Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Donnaregina (MADRE) features an enfilade procession of permanent installations by artists such as Francesco Clemente, Richard Serra, and Rebecca Horn.
Churches and religious structures
Naples is the seat of the Archdiocese of Naples, and the Catholicism is highly important to the populace; there are hundreds of churches in the city. The Cathedral of Naples is the city’s premier place of worship; each year on September 19, it hosts the longstanding Miracle of Saint Januarius, the city’s patron saint. During the miracle, which thousands of Neapolitans flock to witness, the dried blood of Januarius is said to turn to liquid when brought close to holy relics said to be of his body. Below is a selective list of Naples’ major churches, chapels, monastery complexes and other religious structures:
Aside from the Piazza del Plebiscito, Naples has two other major public squares: the Piazza Dante and the Piazza dei Martiri. The latter originally had only a memorial to religious martyrs, but in 1866, after the Italian unification, four lions were added, representing the four rebellions against the Bourbons.
The San Gennaro dei Poveri is a Renaissance-era hospital for the poor, erected by the Spanish in 1667. It was the forerunner of a much more ambitious project, the Bourbon Hospice for the Poor started by Charles III. This was for the destitute and ill of the city; it also provided a self-sufficient community where the poor would live and work. Though a notable landmark, it is no longer a functioning hospital.
Underneath Naples lies a series of caves and structures created by centuries of mining, and the city rests atop a major geothermal zone. There are also a number of ancient Greco-Roman reservoirs dug out from the soft tufo stone on which, and from which, much of the city is built. Approximately one kilometer of the many kilometers of tunnels under the city can be visited from the Napoli Sotteranea, situated in the historic centre of the city in Via dei Tribunali. There are also large catacombs in and around the city, and other landmarks such as the Piscina Mirabilis, the main cistern serving the Bay of Naples during Roman times. This system of tunnels and cisterns covers most of the city and lies approximately thirty metres below ground level. Moisture levels are around 70%. During World War II, these tunnels were used as air-raid shelters, and there are inscriptions in the walls depicting the suffering endured by the refugees of that era.
Parks, gardens and villas
Of the various public parks in Naples, the most prominent are the Villa Comunale, which was built by the Bourbon king Ferdinand IV in the 1780s, and the Bosco di Capodimonte, the city’s largest verdant space. Another important park is the Parco Virgiliano, which looks towards the tiny volcanic islet of Nisida; beyond Nisida lie Procida and Ischia. Parco Virgiliano was named after Virgil, the classical Roman poet who is thought to be entombed nearby. Naples is noted for its numerous stately villas, such as the Neoclassical Villa Floridiana, built in 1816.
The islands of Procida (which was used as the set for much of the film Il Postino), Capri and Ischia can all be reached from Naples by hydrofoils and ferries. Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast are situated south of the city, while the Roman ruins of Pompeii, Herculaneum and Stabiae, which were destroyed in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD, are also visible nearby. Naples lies near the volcanic area known as the Campi Flegrei and the port towns of Pozzuoli and Baia, which were part of a vast Roman naval facility, Portus Julius.
UNESCO World Heritage Site
In 1995, the historic centre of Naples was listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, a United Nations programme which aims to catalogue and conserve sites of outstanding cultural or natural importance to the common heritage of mankind. The UNESCO evaluation committee described Naples’ centre as being “of exceptional value”, and went on to say that Naples’ setting on the Bay of Naples “gives it an outstanding universal value which has had a profound influence”.
10. San Ferdinando
12. San Giuseppe
16. San Lorenzo
20. San Carlo all’Arena
25. S.Pietro a Patierno
27. Zona Industriale
28. San Giovanni a Teduccio
Naples has a Mediterranean climate (Köppen climate classification: Csa), with mild, wet winters and warm, dry summers. The mild climate and fertility of the Gulf of Naples made the region famous during Roman times, when emperors such as Claudius and Tiberius holidayed near the city.
|[hide]Climate data for Naples|
|Average high °C (°F)||12.5
|Daily mean °C (°F)||8.1
|Average low °C (°F)||3.8
|Precipitation mm (inches)||104.4
|Avg. precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm)||9.9||9.8||9.5||8.8||5.7||4.0||2.3||3.8||5.8||8.1||10.8||10.7||89.2|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||114.7||127.6||158.1||189.0||244.9||279.0||313.1||294.5||234.0||189.1||126.0||105.4||2,375.4|
|Source: World Meteorological Organization|
|[show]Climate data for Naples-Capodichino, district on the outskirts (altitude: 72 m sl, satellite view)|
|Source: ISTAT 2001|
As of 2012, the population of the comune di Napoli totals around 960,000. Naples’ wider metropolitan area, sometimes known as Greater Naples, has a population of approximately 4.4 million. The demographic profile for the Neapolitan province in general is relatively young: 19% are under the age of 14, while 13% are over 65, compared to the national average of 14% and 19%, respectively. Naples has a higher percentage of females (52.4%) than males (47.6%). Naples currently has a higher birth rate than other parts of Italy, with 10.46 births per 1,000 inhabitants, compared to the Italian average of 9.45 births.
The city’s population rose from 621,000 in 1901 to 1,226,000 in 1971, before declining as city-dwellers moved to the suburbs. According to different sources, Naples’ metropolitan area is either the second-most-populated metropolitan area in Italy after Milan (with 4,434,136 inhabitants according to Svimez Data) or the third (with 3.1 million inhabitants according to the OECD). In addition, Naples is Italy’s most densely populated major city, with over 8,000 people per square kilometre.
Unlike many northern Italian cities, there are relatively few foreign immigrants in Naples; 98.5% of the city’s inhabitants are Italian nationals. In 2006, there were a total of 19,188 foreigners in the city of Naples; the majority of these are Eastern European, hailing mostly from the Ukraine, Poland and the Balkans. There are few non-Europeans, although there are small Sri Lankan and East Asian immigrant communities. Statistics show that the vast majority of immigrants in Naples are female; this is because male immigrants in Italy tend to head north.
Naples is noted for its numerous higher education institutes and research centres. Naples hosts what is thought to be the oldest state university in the world, in the form of the University of Naples Federico II, which was founded by Frederick II in 1224.
The university is among the most prominent in Italy, with around 100,000 students and over 3000 professors. It host to the Botanical Garden of Naples, which was opened in 1807 by Giuseppe Bonaparte, using plans drawn up under the Bourbon king Ferdinand IV. The garden’s 15 hectares feature around 25,000 samples of vegetation, representing over 10,000 plant species.
Naples is also served by the Seconda Università degli Studi di Napoli, a modern university which opened in 1989, and which, despite its name, has strong links to the nearby province of Caserta. Another notable centre of education is the Istituto Universitario Orientale, which specialises in Eastern culture, and was founded by the Jesuit missionary Matteo Ripa in 1732, after he returned from the court of Kangxi, the Emperor of the Manchu Qing Dynasty of China.
Other prominent universities in Naples include the Parthenope University of Naples, the private Istituto Universitario Suor Orsola Benincasa, and the Jesuit-run Theological Seminary of Southern Italy. The San Pietro a Maiella music conservatory is the city’s foremost institution of musical education; the earliest Neapolitan music conservatories were founded in the 16th century under the Spanish. Naples hosts also the oldest marine zoological study station in the world, Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn, created in 1872 by German scientist Anton Dohrn, and the world’s oldest permanent volcano observatory, the Vesuvius Observatory, founded in 1841. The Observatory lies on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius, near the city of Ercolano, and is now a permanent specialized institute of the Italian National Institute of Geophysics.
Each of the 8,101 comune in Italy is today represented locally by a city council headed by an elected mayor, known as a sindaco and informally called the first citizen (primo cittadino). This system, or one very similar to it, has been in place since the invasion of Italy by Napoleonic forces in 1808. When the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies was restored, the system was kept in place with members of the nobility filling mayoral roles. By the end of the 19th century, party politics had begun to emerge; during the fascist era, each commune was represented by a podestà. Since World War II, the political landscape of Naples has been neither strongly right-wing nor left-wing — both Christian democrats and democratic socialists have governed the city at different times, with roughly equal frequency. Currently, the mayor of Naples is Luigi de Magistris of the IDV party; de Magistris has held the position since the 2011 elections.
Naples is Italy’s fourth-largest economy after Milan, Rome and Turin, and is the world’s 103rd-largest urban economy by purchasing power, with an estimated 2008 GDP of US$51 billion. Naples is a major cargo terminal, and the port of Naples is one of the Mediterranean’s biggest and most important. The city has experienced significant economic growth since World War II, but joblessness remains a major problem, and the city is characterized by high levels of political corruption and organized crime.
Naples is a major national and international tourist destination, being one of Italy and Europe’s top tourist cities. Tourists began visiting Naples in the 18th century, during the Grand Tour. In terms of international arrivals, Naples was the 166th-most-visited city in the world in 2008, with 381,000 visitors (a 1.6% decrease from the previous year), coming after Lille, but overtaking York, Stuttgart, Belgrade and Dallas.
In recent times, there has been a move away from a traditional agriculture-based economy in the province of Naples to one based on service industries. In early 2002, there were over 249,590 enterprises operating in the province registered in the Chamber of Commerce Public Register. The service sector employs the majority of Neapolitans, although more than half of these are small enterprises with fewer than 20 workers; 70 companies are said to be medium-sized with more than 200 workers; and 15 have more than 500 workers.
In 2003, employment in the province of Naples was distributed as follows:
|Public services||Manufacturing||Commerce||Construction||Transportation||Financial services||Agriculture||Hotel trade||Other activities|
Naples is served by several major motorways (it: autostrada). The Autostrada A1, the longest motorway in Italy, links Naples to Milan. The A3 runs southwards from Naples to Salerno, where the motorway to Reggio Calabria begins, while the A16 runs east to Canosa. The A16 is nicknamed the autostrada dei Due Mari (“Motorway of the Two Seas”) because it connects the Tyrrhenian Sea to the Adriatic Sea.
Naples has an extensive public transport network, including trams, buses, funiculars and trolleybuses, most of which are operated by the municipally-owned company Azienda Napoletana Mobilità (ANM). Three public elevators are in operation in the city – one within the bridge of Chiaia, one in via Acton and one near the Sanità Bridge. The city furthermore operates the Naples Metro, an underground rapid transit railway system which integrates both surface railway lines and the city’s metro stations, many of which are noted for their decorative architecture and public art. Suburban rail services are provided by Trenitalia, Circumvesuviana, Ferrovia Cumana and Metronapoli.
The city’s main railway station is Napoli Centrale, which is located in Piazza Garibaldi; other significant stations include the Napoli Campi Flegrei and Napoli Mergellina. Naples’ streets are famously narrow (it was the first city in the world to set up a pedestrian one-way street), so the general public commonly use compact hatchback cars and scooters for personal transit.
The port of Naples runs several public ferry, hydrofoil and SWATH catamaran services, linking numerous locations in both the Neapolitan province, including Capri, Ischia and Sorrento, and the Salernitan province, including Salerno, Positano and Amalfi. Services are also available to destinations further afield, such as Sicily, Sardinia, Ponza and the Aeolian Islands.
A Romantic painting by Salvatore Fergola showing the 1839 inauguration of the Naples-Portici railway line.
Naples has long been a centre of art and architecture, dotted with Medieval, Baroque and Renaissance-era churches, castles and palaces. In the 18th century, Naples went through a period of neoclassicism, following the discovery of the remarkably intact Roman ruins of Herculaneum and Pompeii.
The Neapolitan Academy of Fine Arts, founded by Charles III of Bourbon in 1752 as the Real Accademia di Disegno (en: Royal Academy of Design), was the centre of the artistic School of Posillipo in the 19th century. Artists such as Domenico Morelli, Giacomo Di Chirico, Francesco Saverio Altamura and Gioacchino Toma worked in Naples during this period, and many of their works are now exhibited in the Academy’s art collection. The modern Academy offers courses in painting, decorating, sculpture, design, restoration, and urban planning. Naples is also known for its theatres, which are among the oldest in Europe – the Teatro di San Carlo opera house dates back to the 18th century.
Naples is also the home of the artistic tradition of Capodimonte porcelain. In 1743, Charles of Bourbon founded the Royal Factory of Capodimonte, many of whose artworks are now on display in the Museum of Capodimonte. Several of Naples’ mid-19th-century porcelain factories remain active today.
Naples is internationally famous for its cuisine and wine; it draws culinary influences from the numerous cultures which have inhabited it over the course of its history, including the Greeks, Spanish and French. Neapolitan cuisine emerged as a distinct form in the 18th century. The ingredients are typically rich in taste, while remaining affordable to the general populace.
Naples is traditionally credited as the home of pizza. This originated as a meal of the poor, but under Ferdinand IV it became popular among the upper classes: famously, the Margherita pizza was named after Queen Margherita after a visit to the city. Cooked traditionally in a wood-burning oven, the ingredients of Neapolitan pizza have been strictly regulated by law since 2004, and must include wheat flour type “00” with the addition of flour type “0” yeast, natural mineral water, peeled tomatoes or fresh cherry tomatoes, marine salt and extra virgin olive oil.
Spaghetti is also associated with the city and is commonly eaten with the sauce ragù: a popular Neapolitan folkloric symbol is the comic figure Pulcinella eating a plate of spaghetti. Parmigiana di melanzane, mozzarella, spaghetti alle vongole and casatiello are among the dishes popular in the city.
Naples is well known for its sweet dishes, including colourful gelato, which is similar to ice cream, though more fruit-based. Popular Neapolitan pastry dishes include zeppole, babà, sfogliatelle and pastiera, the latter of which is prepared specially for Easter celebrations. Another seasonal sweet is struffoli, a sweet-tasting honey dough decorated and eaten around Christmas. Neapolitan coffee is also widely acclaimed. The traditional Neapolitan flip coffee pot, known as the cuccuma or cuccumella, was the basis for the invention of the espresso machine, and also inspired the Moka pot.
Naples has been the setting of many works of film. Comedies set in Naples include It Started in Naples, L’oro di Napoli by Vittorio De Sica and Dino Risi‘s Scent of a Woman. The 2008 film Gomorrah, based on the book by Roberto Saviano, explores the dark underbelly of the city of Naples through five intertwining stories about the powerful Neapolitan crime syndicate, the Camorra. In the 1954 Tom and Jerry cartoon Neapolitan Mouse, Tom and Jerry visit Naples on a cruise.
The Naples dialect, a distinct language which is mainly spoken in the city, is also found in the region of Campania, and has been diffused to other areas of Southern Italy by Neapolitan migrants. On 14 October 2008, a law was passed by the Region of Campania, stating that the Neapolitan language was to be legally protected.
The term “Neapolitan language” is often used to describe the language of all of Campania, and is sometimes applied to the entire South Italian language; Ethnologue refers to the latter as Napoletano-Calabrese. This linguistic group is spoken throughout most of southern continental Italy, including the Gaeta and Sora districts of southern Lazio, the southern part of Marche and Abruzzo, Molise, Basilicata, northern Calabria, and northern and central Puglia. In 1976, there were theorised to be 7,047,399 native speakers of this group of dialects.
Naples has played an important role in the history of Western European art music for more than four centuries. The first music conservatories were established in the city under Spanish rule in the 16th century. The San Pietro a Majella music conservatory, founded in 1826 by Francesco I of Bourbon, continues to operate today as both a prestigious centre of musical education and a musical museum.
During the late Baroque period, Alessandro Scarlatti, the father of Domenico Scarlatti, established the Neapolitan school of opera; this was in the form of opera seria, which was a new development for its time. Another form of opera originating in Naples is opera buffa, a style of comic opera strongly linked to Battista Pergolesi and Piccinni; later contributors to the genre included Rossini and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The Teatro di San Carlo, built in 1737, is the oldest working theatre in Europe, and remains the operatic centre of Naples.
The earliest six-string guitar was created by the Neapolitan Gaetano Vinaccia in 1779; the instrument is now referred to as the romantic guitar. The Vinaccia family also developed the mandolin. Influenced by the Spanish, Neapolitans became pioneers of classical guitar music, with Ferdinando Carulli and Mauro Giuliani being prominent exponents. Giuliani, who was actually from Apulia but lived and worked in Naples, is widely considered to be one of the greatest guitar players and composers of the 19th century, along with his Catalan contemporary Fernando Sor. Another Neapolitan musician of note was opera singer Enrico Caruso, one of the most prominent opera tenors of all time: he was considered a man of the people in Naples, hailing from a working class background.
A notable element of popular Neapolitan music is the Canzone Napoletana style, essentially the traditional music of the city, with a repertoire of hundreds of folk songs, some of which can be traced back to the 13th century. The genre became a formal institution in 1835, after the introduction of the annual Festival of Piedigrotta songwriting competition. Some of the best-known recording artists in this field include Roberto Murolo, Sergio Bruni and Renato Carosone. There are furthermore various forms of music popular in Naples but not well known outside it, such as cantautore (“singer-songwriter“) and sceneggiata, which has been described as a musical soap opera; the most well-known exponent of this style is Mario Merola.
Football is by far the most popular sport in Naples. Brought to the city by the British during the early 20th century, the sport is deeply embedded in local culture: it is popular at every level of society, from the scugnizzi (street children) to wealthy professionals. The city’s best known football club is SSC Napoli, which plays its home games at the Stadio San Paolo in Fuorigrotta. The team plays in the Serie A league and has won the Scudetto twice, the Coppa Italia four times and the Supercoppa Italiana once. The team has also won the UEFA Cup, and once named Diego Maradona among its players. Naples has itself produced numerous prominent professional footballers, including Ciro Ferrara and Fabio Cannavaro. Cannavaro was captain of Italy’s national team until 2010, and led the team to victory in the 2006 World Cup. He was consequently named World Player of the Year.
Some of the city’s smaller clubs include Sporting Neapolis and Internapoli, which play at the Stadio Arturo Collana. The city also has teams in a variety of other sports: Eldo Napoli represents the city in basketball‘s Serie A and plays in the city of Bagnoli. Partenope Rugby are the city’s best-known rugby union side: the team has won the rugby union Serie A twice. Other popular local sports include water polo, horse racing, sailing, fencing, boxing, taekwondo and martial arts. The Accademia Nazionale di Scherma (National Academy and Fencing School of Naples) is the only place in Italy where the titles “Master of Sword” and “Master of Kendo” can be obtained.
Twin towns and sister cities
- Kagoshima, Japan
- Baku, Azerbaijan
- Athens, Greece
- Budapest, Hungary
- Călăraşi, Romania
- Tripoli, Lebanon
- Gafsa, Tunisia
- Kolkata, India
- Nablus, Palestinian Authority
- Nosy Be, Madagascar
- Palma, Spain
- Santiago de Cuba, Cuba
- Santiago de Cuba Province, Cuba
- İzmir, Turkey
- Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina (since 1964)
- Zhengzhou, China