216 – Exploring Spaccanapoli – The Historic Centre of Naples

Next on my destination list was Spaccanapoli. This is an ancient district which takes its name from the long narrow street that runs as straight as a die through the historic centre, cutting the city of Naples into two halves.

Spaccanapoli, Naples, Historical Centre, Lanes

*

Here is a network of narrow cobbled streets and passageways, arranged in a regular grid system. This neighbourhood contains over 30 churches.

As dusk was about to fall we made our way through the busy streets towards Piazza del Gesù Nuovo. On one side of the square stands the Church and Franciscan Convent of Santa Chiara and its Belltower.

P1340429arb

P1340459arb

On the opposite side is the Chiesa del Gesù Nuovo which has an ornate doorway and a rather unusual and imposing facade.

P1340461arb

The spacious interior of the basilica, however, is decorated in an opulent baroque style and contains many noteworthy works of art.

P1340439arb

P1340441arb

P1340452arb

P1340446arb

P1340456arb

In the square stands an ornate monument, the Obelisco dell’Immacolata.

P1340458arb

At this point Paul had to go back to our car to buy more parking tickets, so meanwhile I took the opportunity to do some people watching and absorb some of the unique local cultural atmosphere.  Naples has had a long colourful history and has always been a melting pot of different cultures and influences – Greek, French, German, Spanish and  North African.

The square was buzzing as tourists rubbed shoulders with street vendors and locals alike. Cars and vespas beeped, brakes screeched and squealed, music blared, dogs barked, canaries tweeted, people shouted, church bells tolled. Small bands of boisterous young boys kicked footballs between parked cars. Proud parents pushed their babies in rattling buggies. Elegantly dressed ladies tottered over the cobblestones in their stilettos. Courting couples passionately held hands and embraced, students gathered in groups and chatted, teenagers giggled and flirted. A couple of old men argued vociferously whilst madly gesticulating. An old lady in black yelled down from her balcony, which was draped with washing lines, to her neighbour below. Yes the streets were filled with the daily vibrant cacophony of Neapolitan life.

When Paul eventually returned we continued our wander through Spaccanapoli. The streets were lined with many small individual shops with apartments above, standing side by side with bars, cafés and some private houses.

P1340496a

Interspersed were churches and grand palazzos of a forgotten era, with ornate gateways leading to concealed courtyards.

P1340492arb

P1340511

P1340507arb

P1340509arb

Blank walls were liberally adorned with graffiti.

We came across several groups of street musicians as we strolled along.

P1340471arb

There was a myriad of shops selling everything under the sun, crafts, antiques, prints, posters, books, clothes, shoes, ceramics and musical instruments. Naturally there were also retailers selling souvenirs and trinkets.

*

P1340372a

The “corno” is an amulet that resembles a red horn or chilli pepper. Superstitious Neapolitans believe it can ward of the “malocchio” or “evil eye”, and protect against bad luck.

P1340497arb

The figure of the “Pulcinella” has become adopted as a symbol of Naples and Southern Italy.  He is one of the clown characters from the “Commedia dell’Arte”, dating back to the 16th century.  The name “Pulcinella” was Anglicised to “Punchinella” who became better known in English as “Mr Punch”.

P1340503arb

P1340485arb

P1340476arb

The bowler hatted figurines below represent Totò, a celebrated Italian comic actor who was born in Naples. You can also purchase little statuettes of many current celebrities such as the Pope, Berlusconi, famous football players, Batman, Obama, Prince William and his wife Catherine.

P1340489arb

Naples is famous for its pizzas, or course, especially the “Margherita”. There are numerous pizzerias to choose from, some are sit down restaurants, others serve tasty pizzas and snacks to enjoy on the hoof.

P1300088aa

However Naples is also renowned for its ice cream and wonderful cakes and pastries. There are some of the very best “pasticcerie” in Spaccanapoli that have a tempting range of decedent delectable offerings such as: “Sfogliatelle” – a crumbly puff pastry with a filling of sweet ricotta cheese. “Pastiera” –  an orange-flavoured tart made ricotta, eggs and with wheat grains, especially popular at Easter-time. “Babà au Rhum” – a soft spongy cake soaked with syrup and rum.

P1340510arb

P1340480arb

P1340482arb

There are also many food stores selling meat, fresh fruit and vegetables, and emporiums with an array of other Italian gastronomic delights.

P1340498arb

P1340506arb

The street of San Gregorio Armeno is well known for its countless little shops and workshops making and selling  figurines and decorative items to embellish Christmas nativity scenes or “presepi”.  It has become known as “Nativity Alley”.

La via dei pastori - particolare di un banco- Napoli.jpg

**

Finally we came across a church which had an interesting exhibition of nativity scenes.

Please see our next post – 217 – Exhibition of Neapolitan Nativity Scenes.

* public domain image

** photo CC BY-SA 2.0   by Raffaella – flickr

All photos by me © Louise Shapcott

(except where photos have been rightfully accredited to the photographer / owner)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

#trecancelle #naples #napoli #spaccanapoli #italy

https://trecancelle.files.wordpress.com/2015/06/tctitle.jpg?w=327&h=245

 Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Apartments Near Sperlonga and Itri

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

3 thoughts on “216 – Exploring Spaccanapoli – The Historic Centre of Naples

  1. Oh how lovely to wander Naples as you did, Louise! I haven’t been in years, but you’ve made me want to return asap! The food pics are especially enticing! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Lovely buildings ,churches and food. People down here in New Zealand haven’t lived until they have visited these countries .and seen the beauty.

  3. Hello Louise, this is a lovely ‘snapshot’ of the famous district in Naples. Could you tell me exactly where you parked the car and whether you thought it was a safe parking area?
    Many thanks, Antonio

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s