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- Alternate uses: See Naples (disambiguation)
Naples (Italian Napoli, Neapolitan Napule, from Greek Νέα Πόλις - Néa Pólis - meaning "New City") is the largest city in southern Italy and capital of Campania Region. The city has a population of about 1 million, and together with its suburbs, the metropolitan area has 3 million inhabitants (Neapolitans). It is located just halfway between the Vesuvius volcano and another unrelated volcanic area, the Campi Flegrei.
The city was probably founded by inhabitants of the Greek colony Cuma, around the eighth century B.C., just a few kilometres from the more ancient town Partenope. For this reason it was named Neapolis (from Greek, meaning New City). Its buildings, museums and even the language spoken by natives bear traces of all periods of its history, from its Greek birth, until the present day.
It was in Naples, in the 'Castel dell'Ovo' (Castle of the Egg), that Romulus Augustus, the last Emperor of the Western Roman Empire, was imprisoned after being deposed in 476. In the sixth century, Naples was conquered by the Byzantines during the attempt of Justinian I to recreate the Roman Empire, and was one of the last duchies to fall in Norman hands in 1039, as they founded the Kingdom of Sicily.
Frederick II Hohenstaufen founded its university in 1224. In 1266 Naples and the kingdom of Sicily were assigned by Pope Clement IV to Charles of Anjou, who moved the capital from Palermo to Naples. In 1284 the kingdom was split in two parts, with an Aragonese king ruling the island of Sicily and the Angevin king ruling the mainland portion; while both kingdoms officially called themselves the Kingdom of Sicily, the mainland portion was commonly referred to as the Kingdom of Naples. This kingdom was much larger than just the city; it covered about the southern third of the boot of the Italian peninsula.
The two parts would stay separate until 1816, when they would form the kingdom of Two Sicilies. The two kingdoms were united under Spanish rule 1501, until 1715, when Naples became Austrian until 1734. Under the enlightened Bourbon monarch Charles, king of both Sicilies (Utriusque Siciliarum) (later known as Charles III of Spain), gained independence. In 1799, a Jacobin revolution (backed by the French Army) gave birth to a short-lived republic (January - June 1799).
In 1861, the kingdom was conquered by the Garibaldines and was handed over to the king of Sardinia. In October 1860 a plebiscite sanctioned the end of the kingdom of Sicily and the birth of the state of Italy.
The opening of the funicular railway to Mount Vesuvius was occasion to the writing of the famous song Funiculì Funiculà, one more song in the centuries long tradition of Neapolitan songs. Many Neapolitan songs are also famous outside of Italy, as for example "'O Sole Mio", "Santa Lucia" and "Torna a Surriento".
On April 7, 1906 nearby Mount Vesuvius erupted, devastating Boscotrecase and seriously damaging Ottaviano. In 1944 the activity closed with a spectacular and devastating eruption; images from this eruption were used in the film The War of the Worlds.
It is still well connected to Sicily and Palermo. Naples has an important port that connects it, for example, to Cagliari, Genoa and Palermo. Naples has good ferry connections to nearby islands and Sorrento, and fast rail connections to Rome and the south. It is famous for the light railway Circumvesuviana .
Organised crime is deep-rooted in Naples. The Camorra, the feuding Neapolitan gangs and families, have a long history and are now more of a threat in Italy than the Sicillian-based Mafia. During 2004 over 120 people died in Naples in Camorra killings, many of the deaths drug-trade related.
Food and drink
Naples is by tradition the home of pizza, specifically it is the birthplace of the Pizza Margherita, which traditionally is made with mozzarella, tomato and oregano - representing the red, white, and green of the Italian flag. The pizza was created as homage to Queen Margherita on a vist to the city. La vera pizza (true pizza) should be made in a wood burning oven similar to a Tandoori oven . Other forms of pizza (such as those sold in Naples by streetside stalls) are known as pizzetta.
Napoli is famous for its excellent pasta dishes, where spaghetti is often served with Sugo De Pomodoro, which is an original italian tomato sauce which gets its full flavour from sun-ripe Campanian tomatoes. An other excellent Campanian dish found in Naples is Melanzane Alla Parmigiana , which is slices of aubergine (eggplant)gratined with tomato sauce and parmesan cheese.
Neopolitans also claim that the best espresso coffee in the world is made in their town thanks to special kind of Neapolitan air and water. Naples is also famous for its ice cream.
Naples itself is less visited than some of the surrounding attractions. There are, however, many attractions within the city. La Villa Comunale (formerly a royal park) has been refurbished and stretches along the seafront in the smarter western end of the city. It contains an aquarium which is possibly Europe's oldest and is favoured by the locals for family walks on Sunday mornings. The Museo Archeologico Nazionale Napoli contains a large collection of Roman artifacts from Pompeii and Herculaneum as well as the Farnese Marbles , some of the greatest surviving Roman statues; The Museo Nazionale di Capodimonte contains art collections including work by Michelangelo, Raphael, Botticelli and Caravaggio. Naples is the home of the Teatro di San Carlo, the oldest active opera house in Europe, which opened its doors on November 4, 1737. There are also a number of churches, royal palaces and Castles within and around the city.
Guided tours operate around the Stratification of Naples which shows the city through the layers laid down across history. Subterranean Naples consists of old Greco-Roman resevoirs dug out from the soft tufo stone on which, and from which, the city is built. You can visit approximately one kilometer of the many kilometers of tunnels under the city. There are also large catacombs in and around the city.
The islands of Procida, famously used as the set for much of il Postino, Capri and Ischia can all be reached quickly by Aliscafi (twin-hulled ferries). Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast are situated south of Naples. The Roman ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum (destroyed in the A.D. 79 eruption of Vesuvius) are also nearby.
Naples is the home of the underachieving soccer team Napoli. With the help of Diego Maradona, they achieved rare success in 1987 by winning the scudetto. In 2004 the football team was declared bankrupt and has been subsequently reborn into the lower division of Serie C1 as 'Napoli Soccer'.
The Neapolitan diaspora
Naples has seen many of its children spread out through the world, setting up 'Little Italy's in many countries. The majority of these Neapolitans who left Italy went to the Americas, especially the United States, Canada, Brazil, and Argentina.
- Edoardo Bennato
- Eugenio Bennato
- Gian Lorenzo Bernini
- Giordano Bruno
- Renato Carosone
- Enrico Caruso
- Francesco Cilea
- Domenico Cimarosa
- Benedetto Croce
- Eduardo De Filippo
- Enrico De Nicola
- Ruggero Leoncavallo
- Giovanni Leone
- Giovanni Paisiello
- Nicola Salerno, also known as Nisa
- Domenico Scarlatti
- Matilde Serao
- Massimo Troisi
- Giambattista Vico
- Bud Spencer, also known as Carlo Pedersoli
- Satellite image of Naples and Vesuvius at NASA's Earth Observatory
- Association of the Verrace Pizza Napoletana (The True Pizza Society)
- Museo Archeologico Nazionale Napoli (National Archaeological Museum)
- Napoliwatch - reports in English of all Napoli Soccer's matches
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