Naples has a rich history as one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world, and over time it has grown to become the largest city centre in Europe. A UNESCO World Heritage site, it is not on every tourist’s itinerary, although many visitors pass through on the way to Herculaneum and Pompeii. Those who choose to explore this fascinating city will never be short of anything to do, even if there is not much money to spend. If you’re on a budget in Naples, here’s some ideas:
The Historic Centre
Walk around the city centre and you’ll be rewarded with a wealth of interesting discoveries, from tucked-away churches to atmospheric alleyways, chapels, gardens, and catacombs. One of Naples’s most unusual and unique areas is Christmas Alley (Via San Gregorio Armeno), a street filled with shops dedicated to hand-crafted figurines for nativity scenes.
Naples is the home of traditional pizza, so you are never far away from an authentic – and affordable – taste of the city. A lot of pizzerias are family-run affairs having been passed down through the generations, and some of the best around include Brandi (Salita S.Anna di Palazzo) and Pizzeria Trianon da Ciro (Via P. Colletta) - or for more ideas take a look here.
MADRE (Palazzo Donnaregina, Via Luigi Settembrini)
The Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Donnaregina, or MADRE, is a relatively recent addition to Naples’s art scene, opening in 2005. It houses a permanent collection of modern art by such established names as Anish Kapoor and Jeff Koons, as well as temporary exhibitions. It also has its own bar and restaurant. Best of all, entry is free on a Monday.
Royal Palace of Naples(Piazza del Plebiscito)
The Royal Palace was built for the Spanish king Filipo III in 1600 – and although he never set foot in it, it was expanded and occupied by a number of royal families in the centuries after that. Full of the lavish décor and luxurious flourishes that can be expected from a stately home, the grounds are free to walk around, and to get inside the palace itself costs only a few euros.
A few smaller museums in Naples are always free to enter. The Museum of Human Anatomy (Via Armanni), Museum of the Sea (Via Pozzuoli), and the Museum of Musical History (Via S.Pietro a Maiellaare) are all quite specific in their fields of interest, but worth a look around.
Naples Cathedral(Via Duomo)
The city cathedral dates back to the 1200s, when it was commissioned by Charles I of Anjou, and its frescoes and artworks are celebrated. It is most famous for the “blood miracle” that is said to happen there three times a year, when a vial of the dried blood of Saint Januarius – the patron saint of Naples - is presented in public and supposedly liquefies.
Caravaggio(Pio Monte della Misericordia, Via dei Tribunali)
Considered one of the most prized possessions in all of Naples, one of Caravaggio’s most celebrated and important works is still housed in the church it was painted for – and so can be seen for free. Sette Opere di Misericordia, or The Seven Works of Mercy is an altarpiece that is believed to have started out as seven separate works, which the artist combined into one oil painting.
The Egg Castle (Via Eldorado)
The Egg Castle
is so named because, according to legend, has it the poet Virgil hid an egg in the dungeon there, insisting the fortune of the castle depended on it. Today, some of the old sea fort is free to enter, specifically the part that houses the ethno-prehistory museum.