La Movida . . . . Neapolitan Night life.

Alleys at night.

Alleys at night.

 

Napoli is a lively city at night as well as during the day.  As soon as the sun goes down, it becomes a very interesting universe of joyful people, kids playing football, girls wearing the best dresses just to impress, families, couples and singles, it is a place where everything is possible, even some bookshops turn into vibrant bars or the fishmonger shops into smart fish restaurants. 

Bars and restaurants are open until late and are always busy.  For late I mean, really late almost until dawn.  Some could be scared just to go out in the 'dangerous' alleys of Napoli.  It's nothing like that.  I have been living in Napoli all my life and I have always felt safe.  Just take the usual precautions that you would do in any other city.   I actually found that many tourists get used to this night 'lifestyle' very easily.  How could you not.

Especially in Summer, when the schools are finished, the heat is more gentle in the evening,  from the promenade to the historical centre, everywhere is always very crowded with markets, musicians or just people that can't sleep or don't want to.   Everywhere is an interesting place to visit.  It just depends of what you are looking for.  You can have a pizza or a burger, to sit in or take away.   There are also lounge bars and wine bars (enoteche), or listen to live classical music in an old churche or a dj set in a pub. 

Kids playing football in piazza Dante until late.

Kids playing football in piazza Dante until late.

 

The areas called baretti which means 'little bars' have a lot of lounge bars, clubs and bars where you can have a nice drink and chill out with friends.  There are many around Napoli and they are not only for the young people, there is a huge choice for every age. The old town, from piazza Dante around piazza del Gesu' and  Monteoliveto is an area very crowded especially with students, in fact not far from there is a university.  Here there are lots of pizzerias, restaurants, kebab shops and bars where you can have a nice cocktail or a shot for €2.  Not far from here is the Keste' which is more than a bar, it's an art gallery with live music sessions. 

Book shops in the morning, bars in the evening in piazza Dante.

Book shops in the morning, bars in the evening in piazza Dante.

Pizzerias open until late, Port'Alba pizzeria.

Pizzerias open until late, Port'Alba pizzeria.

San Sebastiano street at night.

San Sebastiano street at night.

In the posh area of Riviera di Chiaia you will find small and trendy bars with dj set music like the Kiki bar or many more around via Chiaia, via San Pasquale or vico Belledonne.  There is no need for me to tell you which one is the best, there are so many and they are always full of people.  A nice walk along the promenade to Borgo Marinari around the Castel dell' Ovo is a very interesting spot for restaurants and bars near the sea.

Going up to the hill of Vomero you will pass to via Aniello Falcone, another area full of baretti like Il Baretto, One, Baik or Flame.  The bonus of this area is the stunning view of the gulf, which is not included in the price!

Once you are at the Vomero, there is a good choice of bars and pubs, like Goodfellas, where every night there are live tribute bands performing. There is the famous Fonoteca with a huge range of classic cocktails and music.  Some other bars have on certain days of the week cocktails at fixed prices from around €1 to €3. 

All the areas have very trendy and popular bars so for me it is not easy to recommend one in particular.  The beauty of going out is not only the venue itself but what's around, in fact the night life is more outside, in the streets, in the narrow alleys and in the squares.  It is this vibe that makes this city so unique and charming.  

If you want to stay out until late be aware that much of the transports will close quite early (check the section Travel info of my website for metro and funicular timetables) however, you can walk from one place to another (for instance from the old part to the promenade is more or less 30 minutes) but if you are getting to or from the Vomero taking a taxi will cost you around €15. 

A typical Neapolitan night out is not to get drunk, but to enjoy some good food, a chat with friends and few drinks.  If you want to live like the 'local' you should go first to a pizzeria or a pub and then in one of those bars until you are not too tired.  There is no rush, remember, you are in Napoli, and here having a good time is more important than sleep!

 

Book shop in the daytime, bar at night, Perditempo,  Vico S. Pietro a Maiella, 8, 80138.

Book shop in the daytime, bar at night, Perditempo, Vico S. Pietro a Maiella, 8, 80138.

Pizza take away at Pizzeria I Decumani,  Via dei Tribunali, 58, 80138 Napoli

Pizza take away at Pizzeria I Decumani, Via dei Tribunali, 58, 80138 Napoli

Another book shop/bar Libreria Berisio,  Via Port'Alba, 28, 80134 Napoli.

Another book shop/bar Libreria Berisio, Via Port'Alba, 28, 80134 Napoli.

If you need a quick refreshment, for a few euros you can have a handmade lemonade. 

If you need a quick refreshment, for a few euros you can have a handmade lemonade. 

WHAT'S ON IN DECEMBER?

San Gregorio Armeno.

San Gregorio Armeno.

Napoli is a great city to visit during the Christmas holidays.  Of course, it's good to visit anytime of the year, but in December there's an amazing vibe.  If you are going, or thinking about going to Naples in December, here is all the info on what's going on in the city in December.  If not, well, maybe now's a good time to plan a trip for next year!

San Gregorio Armeno.

San Gregorio Armeno.

You can feel Christmas in every corner of the city, from San Gregorio Armeno to the promenade.  This year more than ever is going to be stunning.  First of all, there are going to be many activities from the 8th December, the official date for the opening of the season.  

 

 

This year the main attraction is the giant 'N'albero, a Christmas tree formed of three terraces and more than 30 metres tall, situated at the Rotonda Diaz by the promenade.  In the bottom section which is free to enter, there are art galleries, shops, restaurants, a bistro and an american bar, where it is possible to taste any kind of food, from the traditional neapolitan to sushi.  At the top section there is the breathtaking panoramic terrace overlooking the bay of Naples.  There is an admission fee for the top section which has not been confirmed, but will be around €8 and will be open from 10 in the morning until 10 at night.  It will be accessible by lifts.  During the weekdays it will be possible to attend yoga classes, live music sessions and other various events and will be visible from all the gulf and the islands.  It will be open from December 8th everyday until February 8th.

Decorations all around Napoli: via dei Mille.

Decorations all around Napoli: via dei Mille.

Not only the promenade is going to shine but also the old town (centro storico).  Here, on December 10th there is going to be "The Night of Art", which In Italian is Notte d'Arte - 2016 NutriMenti, culture e cibo nella storia dei popoli, which literally means 'feed the mind' and will be a series of cultural and gastronomical activities of every aspect of the neapolitan tradition and history and will take place in all the squares, shops, museums, churches and cloister gardens all night long.  Particularly interesting are the non-stop concerts at the church of San Pietro a Majella.  

Do you need another reason to visit Napoli?.  Well, I will give you another one; all these activities in the Notte d'Arte will be free and I bet, very busy.  But that's the beauty of Napoli: every experience is best only when you are sharing the joyful moment with other neapolitans and visitors.

There will be Christmas decorations at the entrance of the train station in Piazza Garibaldi where there will be an exhibit of the first presepe completely in ice.  It will be on display from December 6th until January 8th and will be absolutely unique in all the world.  The ice presepe has been carved from 20 tonnes of ice. 

There will be also be a tour around the secrets and mysteries of Naples, looking for ghosts and legends in the heart of Napoli.  Tickets for the tour are €8 (€5 reduced, free for kids under 12 years old) and will start at the church of Santa Maria la Nova.

 

Loads of things to do then!.  I hope you will enjoy your Christmas in Napoli and come back very soon!

In the meantime....decorations in Casa Cardillo! 

In the meantime....decorations in Casa Cardillo! 

The new installation of N'Albero by the promenade.

Caravaggio in Napoli.

When you look at Caravaggio's paintings you are also looking at Napoli. It is in the chiaroscuro, the contrast between the dramatic darkness and light, in the visceral depiction of bodies, dirty hands, expressive faces which are taken directly from the poor streets of Napoli.

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571-1610) visited Napoli twice, in 1606 on the run from a murder charge in Rome and in 1610, just before his death on the way back to Rome.  Napoli was a part of the Spanish Empire at that time and the city was a vibrant cultural and economic centre due to its important port.  Many artists from all over Europe were attracted to the city by the commissions for the many churches and cathedrals.

In Napoli Caravaggio painted The Madonna of the Rosary (now at the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna), The Flagellation of Christ (now at the Museo di Capodimonte, Napoli) and the stunning Seven Works of Mercy for the high altar of the Church of Pio Monte della Misericordia, which still stands today, together with the painting in its original position. This is definitely one of my favourite Caravaggio paintings.  The architecture of the church seems to be constructed around the painting in a silent devotion to the artist. Caravaggio gave to Napoli one of his most breathtaking masterpieces.  The painting is an image of the city where he tried to find comfort in a desperate time of his life.

Pio Monte della Misericordia was an institution founded by a group of noblemen dedicated exclusively to acts of human charity.  The word misericordia means mercy.  Caravaggio, portrayed in the painting the seven acts of physical mercy, which are; to bury the dead, visit the imprisoned, feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, clothe the naked, visit the sick and refresh the thirsty.

The scene is a revolutionary vision.  All the acts are taking place in a mysterious dark neapolitan vicolo (alley) in the lower part of the painting, whilst in the top part are two floating angels supporting the Madonna of Mercy with Child.

Caravaggio was very successful and famous in Napoli, however after a few months he decided to leave the city and ended up in Malta with the Knights of St John and then Sicily.  

He finally returned to Napoli in 1610 on the way to Rome, in order to receive forgiveness from the Pope for his misdeeds. This is when he  painted The Denial of Saint Peter, (now at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York) and John the Baptist (now in Villa Borghese, Rome) and his last masterpiece Martyrdom of Saint Ursula, which has recently been attributed to him. This is the last dramatic painting of a unique artist.  From the dark background, figures emerge in a silent procession of human bodies, the Saint and villains all together.  Even Caravaggio himself participates in the scene, just behind Saint Ursula's head. The flesh is so pale in contrast with the black and the red of the clothes. 

For sure, Caravaggio understood Napoli and the neapolitans like no other painter and after him the artistic life in Napoli would never be the same.  He left behind a very prolific Caravaggesque movement with Neapolitan artists who kept alive his style, painting subjects that Caravaggio himself made popular.  Artists like Mattia Preti, Salvator Rosa, Joseph de Ribera and Battistello Caracciolo, who was considered to be one of his truest followers.

Running until 15th January 2017 at London's National Gallery is the exhibition Beyond Caravaggio.  It's worth visiting as there are many references to Napoli and Neapolitan artists which will make you understand better his his life and his connection with Napoli.

 

Where to see Caravaggio in Napoli: 

Pio Monte della Misericordia, via dei Tribunali, 253 - 80139 Napoli. Tel. +39 081 44 69 44 / Tickets: €7 / Reduced: €5

Opening hours:  Mon - Sat, 09.00 - 18.00 / Sun 09.00 - 14.30

 

Museum of Capodimonte, via Miano, 2 - 80131 Napoli. Tel. +39 081 74 99 154 / Email. mu-cap@beniculturali.it / Tickets: €8 / Reduced: €4

Opening hours:  Every day except Wednesdays, 08.30 - 19.30

 

Palazzo Zevallos Stigliano, via Toledo, 185 - 80132 Napoli. Tel. +39 800 454 229 / Email. info@palazzozevallos.com / Tickets: €5 / Reduced €3  

Opening hours:  Mon closed, Tue - Fri 10.00 - 18.00  / Sat - Sun 10.00 - 20.00