The beauties of Naples and its surroundings, starting from a cardinal point, a virtual journey with the intention of narrating the city of Naples, examining the Naples geography that will allow you to move more easily to enjoy its landscapes and monuments, we have prepared for you an itinerary in the Northern area, which starts from pleasant hill of Vomero and ends in the beautiful and rich city of Acerra.
The Vomero hill: the upper north side of Naples
Our itinerary to conquer the Neapolitan north begins from the pleasant hill of Vomero which dominates the city of Naples from above, with its aristocratic elegance. And this is why our tour must necessarily start from the Museum and Charterhouse of San Martino and from Castel Sant'Elmo, real bulwarks of the Vomerese district. San Martino offers the visitor a more unique and rare opportunity to get to know Naples' history in depth. In fact, the museum houses numerous testimonies of Neapolitan history: cribs, carriages, ancient vessels and a series of works of art that tell the glorious history of Partenope with open hands. And then there is the splendid Certosa, authentic temple of the International Baroque, enriched by the masterpieces of Battistello, Lanfranco, Fanzago, Sanmartino and the others. Castel Sant'Elmo, a castle of medieval origin, the scene of many ancient battles, among which the movements of 1799 are to be mentioned. Here you can also visit the Museum of the Twentieth Century, Museum of Contemporary Art of great thickness for the wealth of the works kept.
We leave the Certosa and Castel Sant'Elmo and head towards the heart of the Vomerese hill, for the inevitable walk to Via Scarlatti, queen of shopping and nightlife, to descend towards Piazza Vanvitelli, Via Bernini and Piazza Medaglie d'Oro. Here you can breathe the atmosphere of Naples well, with its luxurious shops and elegant buildings.
Before, however, to leave the charming neighborhood, we advise you to make a trip to the Villa Floridiana. Here you can take a splendid walk in the beautiful park that will lead you to the Duca di Martina Museum, once an alcove of Lucia Migliaccio di Partanna, Duchess of Floridia, morganatic wife of Ferdinando di Borbone. Here you can admire one of the most important oriental ceramic collections in the world that will allow you to end your visit to Vomero with eyes full of beauty and a heart full of joy.
The Camaldoli hill and the hermitage of the Holy Savior: the highest point in Naples
Our journey continues to touch the highest point of the city of Naples, the Camaldoli hill, which originated approximately 35,000 years ago after a series of violent volcanic phenomena. From here you can enjoy a spectacular panorama, from here you can, with your eyes, embrace the Gulfs of Naples, Pozzuoli and Gaeta. A unique and unrepeatable experience that must be lived by visiting a particular place: it is the Hermitage of the Camaldoli, or even the Hermitage of the SS. Salvatore, built starting from 1585 at the behest of Giovanni D'Avalos: the project was entrusted to the great Ticino architect Domenico Fontana, the favorite of Pope Sixtus V, author in Naples, among other things, of the Royal Palace. A masterpiece of late Renaissance architecture that was built on the remains of an ancient chapel founded in the fifth century by San Gaudioso. The hermitage was managed for four centuries by the Camaldolese hermits, to be entrusted, then, in recent times, to the care of the Brigidine Sisters. During the course of these years, the place of worship has suffered two suppressions. The first in the early 19th century, during the French decade; the second, in 1866, by the Savoy family.
The Hermitage of the Camaldoli offers its visitors many artistic beauties to admire: first of all the large portal enriched by the coat of arms of the Order of the Camaldolesi; then the bell tower and the bipartite Belvedere in the visitors 'and monks' area. But above all the beautiful church, embellished by the works of great Neapolitan painters, such as Luca Giordano, author of a Transfiguration, an Immaculate Conception and a Holy Family. And then also works by the cavalier Massimo Stanzione, one of the greatest Italian artists of the seventeenth century and by Federico Barocci, champion of the "sweet way". Also of great interest are the lunettes of the painter Antiveduto Gramatica, a friend of Caravaggio, who compete at a distance with Ribera's canvases in San Martino.
And now we reappear from the Belvedere, to fly with the imagination to our last destination.
The Arenella district: the younger sister of Vomero
Our tour continues in nearby Arenella, "younger sister of Vomero", but not without history and attractions. There are two explanations on the origin of the name Arenella: the first attributes the name to the shape and destination of the current square Arenella which looked like a sort of "small arena", where once markets and public events were held, both civil that religious. The second, however, makes the epithet derive from the accumulation of the sandy debris coming from the Camaldoli hill, transported there by the action of rainwater.
Among the monuments to visit in the Arenella district, the seventeenth-century church of Santa Maria del Soccorso all'Arenella, a sanctuary radically transformed by the eighteenth and twentieth century renovations that preserves interesting works inside, to be attributed to Jacopo Cestaro and Salvatore Mollo.
Near the church, before its destruction in the twentieth century, there was the birthplace of the famous Salvator Rosa, one of the greatest painters of the seventeenth century. In memory of the artist, a bronze statue was placed on site, cast by a model of Achille d'Orsi now at the Academy of Fine Arts, now moved to Piazza Muzii.
Of great prestige, even the small, but precious church of Santa Maria della Salute. The sanctuary has had a very troubled history: initially entrusted to the care of the Franciscan fathers, it was then, during the seventeenth century, destined for the Augustinians and then returned to the Capuchin friars again: these controversies of ecclesiastical jurisdiction lasted for several decades, but despite this complicated story, inside the church there are some respectable works, among which two paintings by Onofrio Palumbo, The Annunciation and the Nativity, and a beautiful Virgin of Health by Girolamo Imparato stand out.
And now we leave the Arenella district to reach our next stop ..
Acerra: the capital of the northern province of Naples
So we fly to Acerra, one of the most important cities in the northern province of Naples. Acerra is a city rich in monuments and attractions, witnesses of a long and well-layered history. First of all, let's start with the Baronial Castle, not far from the historic center. The history of the Castle has its roots far back in time, a long and complex history, which starts from the Byzantine era to reach the present day. The castle has, in fact, undergone a long series of transformations, which are now clearly visible even to the tourist. But above all, the Castle offers the opportunity to visit the Pulcinella, Folklore and Peasant Civilization Museum, dedicated to the famous carnival mask, an international icon of Neapolitanity, with its tragicomic sarcasm. In the Castle area, it is also possible to visit the remains of a 1st century Roman theater. D. C., emerged from excavations carried out in the eighties of the twentieth century.
But the most important monument to visit in Acerra is certainly the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta. A first building was already known in 1058, probably built on the remains of an old classical temple. Remanufactured then, in Gothic forms, the structure had numerous static settlements, and it was decided, therefore, to rebuild it from scratch. The works had alternate phases, and ended only in 1874. The sanctuary presents itself to the visitor with a splendid neoclassical facade and inside it presents numerous works that testify to its long history. Of great interest, then, for the faithful, the presence of the tomb of the servant of God Rossella Petrellese.
Before ending our visit to Acerra and continuing your journey towards other Neapolitan itineraries, we recommend you to visit three other churches of particular importance for the history of Acerra: the Annunziata church, the Suffragio church and the San Cuono church, the patron saint of the city.