Naples is one of the popular destinations in Italy. There are already lots of informative blogs and videos commenting on various destinations in and around Naples, I won’t repeat them to bore you. Instead, I want to focus on only selected sights which I found as a unique experience for families with kids and therefore are the ‘must visit’ places in Naples.
In the Naples city
This is an interesting place to visit when in Naples. No, actually I want to say it is a MUST visit destination with kids. Its name is Napoli Sotterranea.
In the city center just about 10 min walk from Piazza Dante. Walk across the square and reach on Via dei Tribunali. Keep walking and the destination is on the left side. (The entrance is a bit hidden among surrounding buildings, easy to miss).
This underground excavation dates back to the pre-historic era. According to the records, Greeks were the first to dig in deep to get stones for construction works. This digging continued with the expansion of the city and until recently by the time of WWII, these caves were inhabited at various times for various reasons. All this history is interesting to hear from a passionate guide.
The tour covers some underground and some of the ground sights. Underground part involves a visit to the underground botanical experiments, quarries, Roman cisterns (wells), tight passageway etc. All these elements are fun experience and enjoyable for all the age groups. Aarush’s most memorable experience was the walk-through narrowing, tight passage holding a candle in hands.
The tour includes some sights above the ground like a visit to the merchant’s house for some Greek underground constructions and a hidden colosseum amid hustle n bustle of the old town. This part is like a bonus on the tour. There are no signs about these places. I did not find any information about it on the internet also.
I personally liked this guided tour. This is different from other tours like in museums, historical monuments etc. By the end of this tour, I had totally different perspective for the Naples city. I am convinced that underground Naples is much more interesting than tourists packed destinations above the ground.
This is a 14th-century castle which was used as a prison. I recommend this star-shaped castle not for its architecture or for its history. Instead, I found this is the best place to enjoy the sunset.
The castle is present on a hilltop in Vomero area. It is about 15 min walk from nearby funicular station ‘Morghen’. This can be like a little hike on the hilltop but it is worth for the views.
One can see the Naples city and port from the observation terrace outside the castle or purchase a ticket and go up the castle for better views.
Mt. Vesuvius is one front-left hand side and the endless blue waters on the right side. Naples old city is situated in the valley between this castle hill and Mt. Vesuvius. Sunset from here is spectacular.
One can walk down the hill to reach metro station- San Montesanto.
Outside Naples city
Situated on the west of the Naples, a small fishing town – Pozzuoli is a geologically interesting place. From prehistoric period, this has been center for lots of volcanic and bradyseismic activities on the ground.
There are only a few places which are easily accessible to everyone and one can see active volcanic activities. Solfatara is one of them. It is a caldera with characteristic Fumaroles emitting sulfurous fumes and various mud and boiling water holes. This reason is good enough to invest in some time and to visit these hot grounds. I think it is a valuable experience for children to actually see this disastrous natural phenomenon from so close.
Before you go –
- Wear comfortable clothes and walking shoes. The terrain is rocky and fuming hot. Protect yourself from the sun as well as hot grounds.
- Read the cautions on the board before entering the area. One needs to understand that this is a dangerous place and one must follow the marked route. Do not let children run around.
- The visit is one of its kind with completely different experience. The air so hot and moist that one cannot spend a lot of time here. Remain hydrated.
- There is no public transport facility here. If you are taking a taxi, I will suggest asking the taxi driver to wait for you and return with the same taxi. To find another return taxi might be difficult.
You must have heard of Pompeii, but have you ever wondered that how come only one village got engulfed in the volcanic eruption? If you had this question, well then here is the answer. Visit Ercolano.
Ercolano is another small town between Naples and Pompeii. Here, like in Pompeii, are Roman ruins of a town which got completely buried under lava from the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79AD. It can be easily reached by Circumvesuvius train from Naples. The site is about 10 min walk from train station.
Around 79AD, Ercolano was a small but rich town as compared to Pompeii. The consequences of the eruption were such that this smaller town is better preserved than that of Pompeii. Though the ruins here, have fewer elements of the settlement, there are more details and thus more available information.
- As said earlier, this site has better-preserved ruins of the Roman settlement. This gives a better idea of the lifestyle of that period.
- One can hire audio guides and these guides are really informative. They have a separate audio guide for kids where the same history is made tasteful for little ears. This is important when we want kids to understand the place. Aarush remained engaged all the time we were there. He himself explored an entire area with full keenness.
- This place is quiet and less touristic. It is not at all glamorous but gives a better feel of the place.
I hope these tips will make your visit to Naples more excited and fun filled.
Can you add in something more in this list of hidden gems in Naples? share in the comments below.
Planning a trip to Switzerland? read this
Read about more such destinations here.