Naples (Italian: Napoli , Neapolitan: Napule, Latin: Neapolis, Ancient Greek: Νεάπολις, meaning “new city”) is the regional capital of Campania and the third-largest municipality in Italy after Rome and Milan. In 2017, around 967,069 people lived within the city’s administrative limits while its province-level municipality has a population of 3,115,320 residents. Its continuously built-up urban area (that stretches beyond the boundaries of the Metropolitan City of Naples) is the second in Italy after Milan and one of the largest metropolises on the Tyrrhenian Sea (which is part of the mediterranean sea), with a population of between 4.4 and 5.3 milion.
First settled by Greeks in the second millennium BCE, Naples is one of the oldest continuously inhabited urban areas in the world.
Naples is the third-largest urban economy in Italy, after Milan and Rome. The Port of Naples is one of the most important in Europe.
Naples’ historic city centre is the largest in Europe and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with a wide range of culturally and historically significant sites nearby, including the Palace of Caserta and the Roman ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Naples is also known for its natural beauties (Posillipo, Phlegraean Fields, Nisida, Vesuvius, etc.), comparables to those of Rio de Janeiro. Neapolitan cuisine is synonymous with pizza, which originated in the city but it includes many other less well-known dishes and is the Italian city with the highest number of accredited stars from the Michelin Guide.
The best known sports team in Naples is the Serie A club S.S.C. Napoli, two-time Italian champions who play at the San Paolo Stadium in the southwest of the city.
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 (1000 in total), making it one of the most Catholic cities in the world in terms of the number of places of worship.
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.
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 of Savoy after her 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, mozzarella cheese, sea 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. Other dishes popular in Naples include Parmigiana di melanzane, spaghetti alle vongole and casatiello. As a coastal city, Naples is furthermore known for numerous seafood dishes, including impepata di cozze (peppered mussels), purpetiello affogato (octopus poached in broth), alici marinate (marinated anchovies), baccalà alla napoletana (salt cod) and baccalà fritto (fried cod), a dish commonly eaten during the Christmas period.
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 (more commonly called “‘a Pasta Cresciuta” and “‘e fFritt’ ‘e Viento”) 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.
Wineries in the Vesuvius area produce wines such as the Lacryma Christi (“tears of Christ”) and Terzigno. Naples is also the home of limoncello, a popular lemon liqueur. The nutritional value of the napolitan cuisine was discovered by the American epidemiologist Ancel Keys in the 1950, being later often mentioned by epidemiologists as one of the best examples of the Mediterranean diet.
Naples has had significant influence on Italian cinema. Because of the significance of the city, many films and television shows are set (entirely or partially) in Naples. In addition to serving as the backdrop for several movies and shows, many talented celebrities (actors, actresses, directors, and producers) are originally from the city of Naples.
Naples was the location for several early Italian cinema masterpieces. Assunta Spina (1915) was a silent film adapted from a theatrical drama by Neapolitan writer, Salvatore Di Giacomo. The film was directed by Neapolitan Gustavo Serena. Serena also starred in the 1912 film, Romeo and Juliet.
Naples gave birth to many Italian directors, actors, actresses, and writers including:
Valeria Golino; Actress, Rain Man (1988)
Paolo Sorrentino; Director, La grande bellezza (2014)
Bud Spencer; Actor, They Call Me Trinity (1970), Trinity is STILL My Name! (1971)
Federico Castelluccio; Actor, The Sopranos (2000–2002), The Pink Panther 2 (2009), The Decoy Bride (2011)
Alessandra Mastronardi; Actress, To Rome with Love (2012)
Stephen Spinella; Actor, Milk (2008), Lincoln (2012)
A list of some well-known films that take place (fully or partially) in Naples include:
Shoeshine (1946), directed by Neapolitan, Vittorio De Sica
Hands Over the City (1963), directed by Neapolitan, Francesco Rosi
Journey to Italy (1954), directed by Roberto Rossellini
Marriage Italian Style (1964), directed by Neapolitan, Vittorio De Sica
It Started in Naples (1960), Directed by Melville Shavelson
Naples is home of one of the first Italian colour films, Toto in Color (1952), starring Totò (Antonio de Curtis), a famous comedic actor born in Naples.
Some notable comedies set in Naples include “Ieri, Oggi e Domani” (Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow), by Vittorio De Sica, starring Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni, Episode “Adelina of Naples” (Academy Award-winning movie), It Started in Naples, L’oro di Napoli again by Vittorio De Sica, dramatic movies like Dino Risi’s Scent of a Woman, war movies like “The four days of Naples” by Sardinian director Nanni Loy, music and Sceneggiata movies like Zappatore, from the eponymous song by Libero Bovio, starring singer and actor Mario Merola, crime movies like Il Camorrista with Ben Gazzara playing the part of infamous camorra boss Raffaele Cutolo, and historical or costume movies like That Hamilton Woman starring Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier.
More modern Neapolitan films include Ricomincio da tre, which depicts the misadventures of a young emigrant in the late 20th century. 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.
Naples has appeared in episodes of TV serials such as The Sopranos and the 1998 version of The Count of Monte Cristo, starring Gérard Depardieu.
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 popular traditional dance in Southern Italy and Naples is the Tarantella, originated in the Apulia region and spread next to all part of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. The Neapolitan tarantella is a courtship dance performed by couples whose “rhythms, melodies, gestures, and accompanying songs are quite distinct” featuring faster more cheerful music.
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.
Mount Vesuvius ( Italian: Monte Vesuvio ) is a volcano located on the Gulf of Naples in Campania, Italy, about 9 km east of Naples and a short distance from the shore. It is one of several volcanoes which form the Campanian volcanic arc. Vesuvius consists of a large cone partially encircled by the steep rim of a summit caldera caused by the collapse of an earlier and originally much higher structure.
Mount Vesuvius is best known for its eruption in AD 79 that led to the burying and destruction of the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum, as well as several other settlements. The eruption ejected a cloud of stones, ashes and volcanic gases to a height of 33 km (21 mi), spewing molten rock and pulverized pumice at the rate of 6×105 cubic metres (7.8×105 cu yd) per second, ultimately releasing a hundred thousand times the thermal energy released by the Hiroshima-Nagasaki bombings. More than 1,000 people died in the eruption, but exact numbers are unknown. The only surviving eyewitness account of the event consists of two letters by Pliny the Younger to the historian Tacitus.
Vesuvius has erupted many times since and is the only volcano on the European mainland to have erupted within the last hundred years. Today, it is regarded as one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world because of the population of 3,000,000 people living nearby and its tendency towards violent, explosive eruptions of the Plinian type, making it the most densely populated volcanic region in the world.