/nay"peuhlz/, n.
1. Italian, Napoli. a seaport in SW Italy. 1,223,342.
2. Bay of, Italian, Golfo di Napoli /gawl"faw dee nah"paw lee/. a bay in SW Italy: Naples located here. 22 mi. (35 km) long.
3. a town in S Florida. 17,581.

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Italian Napoli ancient Neapolis

City (pop., 2001 prelim.: 993,386), capital of Campania, southern Italy.

Located on the northern side of the Bay of Naples, southeast of Rome, it was founded с 600 BC by refugees from an ancient Greek colony; it was conquered by the Romans in the 4th century BC. Part of the realms of the Byzantines and then the Saracens, in the 11th century it was conquered by the Norman ruler of Sicily, and through the 19th century it was the capital of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies and the Kingdom of Naples. It was entered by Giuseppe de Garibaldi's expedition in 1860. Heavily damaged in World War II by Allied and German bombing, it was later rebuilt, but it suffered severe earthquake damage in 1980. It is a commercial and cultural centre and a major port with diversified industries. Among the city's attractions are medieval castles, churches, and a university.

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      resort city, seat (1966) of Collier county, southwestern Florida, U.S. It lies at the edge of Big Cypress Swamp, on the Gulf of Mexico, about 35 miles (55 km) south of Fort Myers. The region was originally inhabited by Calusa Indians, and later by the Seminoles (Seminole). Named for the Italian city, Naples was planned as a winter resort in the late 1880s. The arrival of the railroad and the construction of the Tamiami Trail (a road between Naples and Miami) aided the city's development as a tourist destination.

      Tourism remains the economic mainstay, and the citrus industry is also important in the area. Naples has a large retiree population. Caribbean Gardens, a botanical garden and zoo, and the Collier County Museum, a 5-acre (2-hectare) historical park, are in the city. Recreation facilities in Naples include miles of beaches, a fishing pier 1,000 feet (300 metres) long, and an abundance of game fish in the Ten Thousand Islands, about 20 miles (30 km) southeast. Many nature preserves are in the area, including Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary to the northeast, Big Cypress National Preserve to the east, and Collier-Seminole State Park and Everglades National Park to the southeast. Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve encompasses some 23 square miles (60 square km) of mangrove forests and other habitat. Inc. 1923. Pop. (1990) city, 19,505; Naples MSA, 152,099; (2000) city, 20,976; Naples MSA, 251,377.

Italian  Napoli , ancient (Latin)  Neapolis (“New Town”) 

      city, capital of Naples provincia, Campania regione, southern Italy. It lies on the west coast of the Italian Peninsula, 120 miles (190 kilometres) southeast of Rome. On its celebrated bay—flanked to the west by the smaller Gulf of Pozzuoli and to the southeast by the more extended indentation of the Gulf of Salerno—the city is situated between two areas of volcanic activity: Mount Vesuvius to the east and the Campi Flegrei (Phlegraean Fields) to the northwest. The most recent eruption of Vesuvius occurred in 1944. In 1980 an earthquake damaged Naples and its outlying towns, and since then Pozzuoli to the west has been seriously afflicted by bradyseism (a phenomenon involving a fall or rise of land).

      Naples is located near the midpoint of the arc of hills that, commencing in the north at the promontory of Posillipo and terminating in the south with the Sorrentine peninsula, form the central focus of the Bay of Naples. To the south of the bay's entrance to the Tyrrhenian Sea, the island of Capri (Capri, Island of) forms a partial breakwater, visible from the city in clear weather and at times of impending storm but increasingly screened by polluted air from the industrial zone developed, since World War II, between central Naples and the Vesuvian slopes. Pollution also afflicts the waters of the port, obliging the more scrupulous practitioners of the immemorial Neapolitan fishing industry to withdraw ever farther from their native shore.

      While Naples' importance as the principal port of southern Italy is at last in decline, the city remains the centre of the nation's meridional commerce and culture, beset by inveterate difficulties, and distinguished by an adroit and original spirit that retains many suggestions of the classical past and of assimilated historical experience. Of all the cities of southern Italy with Greek origins, Naples presents the most striking example of a lively continuity. It is also perhaps the last great metropolis of western Europe whose monuments, albeit often in decay, may still be seen in their popular context, without distractions of tourism or self-conscious commercialism.

      Since World War II, during which Naples suffered severe bombardment, modernization has increasingly altered the city's setting and character; and a measure of long-deferred but often speculative prosperity is reflected in new suburbs now proliferating in once-rural surroundings. However, Naples remains arcane and compelling, a city whose richness requires from the visitor time, accessibility, and some knowledge of the Neapolitan past.

Physical and human geography

The landscape
Description and climate
      Generations of observers have described Naples as a vast popular theatre, a designation applying as much to the city's aspect of a tiered arena as to its animated street life. It may also be characterized as an immense presepio, in evocation of the populous scene of the traditional Neapolitan Christmas crèche—the expansive natural setting being countered, within the town itself, by a congested vitality. In the shadow of Vesuvius, within the sweep of the bay, the Neapolitan decor is still predominantly one of moldering palaces in red or ochre and ancient churches in stone or stucco. Although the narrow old streets, teeming and traffic-ridden, clamber up hillsides topped by new constructions, few buildings in central Naples as yet rise more than 10 stories. Three fortified castles—two of them on the seafront and one on a central eminence—still define the city's heart. At the picturesque, pale Castel dell'Ovo, the shoreline divides into two natural crescents.

      The blond, volcanic tuff, or tufa, of the region is much used in construction, as is the dark Vesuvian lava that paves the older streets. Magisterial use was also made, in past centuries, of the dark southern stone piperno, seen at its most imposing at the Castel Nuovo. The city's aspect of southern colours interspersed with evergreen groves of ilex, palm, camellia, and umbrella pine reflects a climate in which balconies are in use most of the year. High temperatures in July and August often exceed 90° F (32° C), while the damp, chilly winter is alleviated by many brilliant days. Winter temperatures rarely fall to freezing, and the snow occasionally appearing on Vesuvius is seldom seen in the town itself. The south wind, the sand-laden sirocco, intermittently brings a burdensome humidity, terminating in rain.

Layout and architecture
      Suburban Naples incorporates the headland of Posillipo, which joins the city at the yachting port of Mergellina—signaled by the church of Santa Maria del Parto. The nearby church of Santa Maria di Piedigrotta, centre of a now-diminished popular festival, is steeply overlooked by a small park encompassing the entrance to the Roman grotto called the Crypta Neapolitana. This poignant place also contains the Roman columbarium known as the Tomb of Virgil, and the sepulchre of the Romantic poet Giacomo Leopardi, who died at Naples in 1837.

      From Mergellina, the seaside sweep of Via Francesco Caracciolo is flanked by the long, public park called Villa Comunale, sheltering the Zoological Station and the Aquarium (the oldest in Europe), both founded in 1872. Along the inland border of the park runs the Riviera di Chiaia, marking what was once the shoreline. (The name Chiaia probably derives from ghiaia, denoting a shingle.) Still for the most part lined with handsome old palazzi, the Riviera di Chiaia was a favourite residential area for foreign visitors in the 18th and 19th centuries. The Neoclassical Villa Pignatelli, constructed for Sir Ferdinand Acton in the 1820s, is now, with its period furnishings, a museum. Recessed in contiguous streets, the churches of Santa Maria in Portico and the Ascensione a Chiaia contain works of the prolific 17th- and 18th-century Neapolitan painters.

      Above this busy littoral, the panoramic Corso Vittorio Emanuele unfurls northeastward around the lower slopes of the town, toward the labyrinthine zone of Rione Mater Dei. Higher still, the prosperous Vomero district is served, like other upper areas of the city, by spiraling roads and a funicular railway. Among the modern blocks of the Vomero, the early 19th-century Villa Floridiana—housing the national museum Duca di Martina, with a fine collection of European and Oriental porcelain and ceramics—is easily distinguished in its extensive park.

      Piazza della Vittoria—whose titular church commemorates the Battle of Lepanto (1571)—closes the sweep of Villa Comunale and leads inland to the fashionable shops of Piazza dei Martiri, Via Chiaia, and Via dei Mille. The waterfront road, becoming Via Partenope, passes along the ancient quarter of Santa Lucia—much altered since the late 19th century by land reclamation and monotonous construction and bordered on the seafront by some of the city's best hotels. Beneath the spur of the Pizzofalcone quarter—the remaining fragment of the defunct volcano Echia and once the site of a villa of the Roman general Lucius Licinius Lucullus—a brief causeway leads to the seagirt Castel dell'Ovo, its ancient origins incorporated in a medieval fortress. On the bay's second crescent, the eastbound road passes below the long, red flank of the Royal Palace and arrives at the foot of the mighty Castel Nuovo, which, with its round towers, dominates the main port on the one hand and, on the other, the large Piazza del Municipio.

The Castel Nuovo
      The Castel Nuovo, so called to distinguish it from the older Castel dell'Ovo, was founded in 1279 by Charles I of Naples (Charles of Anjou). One of many Neapolitan landmarks to bear interchangeable names, it is known locally as the Maschio Angioino, in reference to Charles' Angevin origins and from the southern Italian convention that a show of power is necessarily male. There, in the 14th century, the brilliant court of King Robert welcomed Petrarch and Boccaccio, and Giotto was summoned to execute frescoes (now lost). The castle was embellished by Alfonso V of Aragon (Alfonso I of Naples), whose triumphal entry into Naples in 1443 supplies the theme of magnificent Renaissance sculptures over the west entrance. The castle, containing important late medieval and Renaissance decoration, now houses municipal bodies and an institute of Neapolitan history with an important library. At the west end of Piazza del Municipio, the Naples city hall incorporates, in a handsome structure of the 1820s, a 16th-century church.

      The waterfront road continues past docklands, skirting on its inner side the popular church of Santa Maria del Carmine. The nearby Piazza del Mercato, a lively scene of morning markets, was also, in past centuries, a place of execution. Bombardment of the port of Naples during World War II obliterated much of the character of this section of shoreline, and the road itself diverges in the industrial zone of San Giovanni a Teduccio (a name that possibly recalls that of Theodosius). Visible history resumes in the approach to Portici and the Vesuvian shore.

      Inland above Piazza del Municipio, the San Martino Hill is surmounted by a former Carthusian monastery—now an important museum of paintings and objects concerned with the history of Naples—and by the massive abutment of Castel Sant'Elmo. Both are of Angevin origins. The castle, founded in 1329 by Robert of Anjou, was re-created in the 16th century, under the Spanish viceroys, in the form of a six-pointed star. Within the complex of the former San Martino monastery, the church itself is rich in paintings and marble decoration of the Neapolitan Baroque. From the adjoining museum, one passes to a terraced garden with an incomparable panorama of Naples and the bay.

      South of Piazza del Municipio, beyond the Castel Nuovo, stands the red complex of the Royal Palace, whose northeast wing, set in a small park, houses the great collections of the National Library of Naples. The main facade of the Royal Palace grandly faces, southwest across the vast Piazza del Plebiscito, the basilica of San Francesco di Paola, which—erected in royal thanksgiving for the restoration of Bourbon rule (1815)—is modeled on the Pantheon of Rome. The palace, created by Domenico Fontana early in the 17th century, now houses government offices and a notable picture gallery. Above San Francesco di Paola to the southwest, the rise of Monte di Dio is crowned by two important churches: the 17th-century Santa Maria degli Angeli and the 18th-century Nunziatella.

      Adjacent to the palace on the north is the San Carlo opera house, which has heard and inspired many of the great artists of bel canto. Although the prodigious musical creativity of 18th-century Naples has no modern parallel, the San Carlo remains an important element of Europe's musical life. Across the busy intersection from the San Carlo, the late 19th-century arcades of the cruciform Galleria Umberto I serve, under their glass cupola, as an ornate meeting place; the arcades were familiar ground to Allied servicemen in the closing phase of World War II—a dramatic period recalled in such writings as John Horne Burns's The Gallery (1947), Norman Lewis' Naples '44 (1978), and the macabre La pelle (1949; The Skin, by the politically volatile Curzio Malaparte, while early postwar disaffection is portrayed in Raffaele La Capria's Un giorno d'impazienza (1952; A Day of Impatience). Immediately south, on Piazza Trieste e Trento, the 17th-century church of San Ferdinando has traditionally given the Stabat Mater of Giovanni Battista Pergolesi—composed in 1736 for this confraternity—during Easter Week.

Via Toledo
      From Piazza Trieste e Trento, the teeming thoroughfare of Via Toledo—named for the Spanish viceroy Don Pedro di Toledo, who laid it out in 1536—passes north into the dense centre of Naples. Its innumerable shops interspersed with grand churches, Via Toledo is banked with 17th- and 18th-century palazzi whose former magnificence has been turned to commercial or municipal use or—as in the case of the mighty Palazzo Maddaloni—has been allowed to lapse into residential decay. On the slope above Via Toledo, steep alleys climb toward San Martino through a zone that, preserving its labyrinthine 17th-century structure, is still known as the Spanish Quarter. The lower line of Via Toledo is interrupted at Piazza Carità by structures built during the Fascist and postwar eras.

      Debouching into the Neoclassical hemicycle of Piazza Dante, Via Toledo resumes its route under other names, skirting the western flank of the National Archaeological Museum in its ascent toward Capodimonte.

      Piazza Dante forms part of the western boundary to the district that, lying along three principal decumani (streets of orientation) of the Greek and Roman town, has comprised the city's heart since ancient times. Beyond the picturesque Alba Gate this district is introduced, at the western extreme of Via Tribunali, by the historic Naples Conservatory of Music and its great adjoining Gothic church of San Pietro a Maiella. Via Tribunali, the decumanus maior of Greco-Roman Naples, extends east for approximately one mile, terminating at the law courts near the old Capuana Gate. At its western end, the Renaissance Pontano Chapel (in decay) recalls the humanist Giovanni Pontano, who lived in Naples under Aragonese rule, while the older origins of the contiguous Baroque church of Santa Maria Maggiore are apparent in a Romanesque campanile.

      Parallel to Via Tribunali, the upper, briefer Via Anticaglia conserves, within subsequent structures, evident remains of Roman public buildings. The lower parallel—the street that, bearing interim names, becomes Via San Biagio dei Librai—delineates the so-called Spaccanápoli (“Split of Naples”), a designation more loosely applied to all of this ancient centre.

      From Piazza del Municipio, Spaccanápoli is approached along the north-northwest trajectory formed by Via Medina and Via Monteoliveto—a route that passes, to the east of Via Monteoliveto, the recessed Renaissance and Baroque complex of Santa Maria la Nova; and, to the west, in a small square, the church of Monteoliveto, or Sant'Anna dei Lombardi, supreme in Naples for its abundance and quality of Renaissance sculpture. From Via Monteoliveto, the short slope called Calata Trinità Maggiore rises to Piazza del Gesù Nuovo, a principal means of access to Spaccanápoli.

Santa Chiara
      Overlooked from the west by Palazzo Pignatelli (where the painter Edgar Degas resided while in Naples) and with the 18th-century ornate Neapolitan obelisk Guglia dell'Immacolata at its centre, this square is dominated by the church of Gesù Nuovo, its gem-cut facade masking a sumptuous Baroque interior. Opposite rises the medieval complex of Santa Chiara, erected for the Franciscan order in the 14th century. The vast church, transformed internally in the 18th century and now restored (following tragic bombardment in 1943) to its original Gothic form, houses a damaged splendour of royal tombs and early frescoes. At its rear the large cloister decorated in 18th-century majolica tiles is one of the loveliest in Naples.

      From this square the line of Spaccanápoli runs due east. The profusion of important monuments there, the mingling of eras, and the exuberance of the human setting are of inexhaustible fascination. Near the Gesù Nuovo, Palazzo Filomarino houses the Italian Institute for Historical Studies, founded by the philosopher Benedetto Croce. (Another celebrated Neapolitan philosopher, Giambattista Vico, was born, two centuries before Croce, in a house also preserved in this street.) Flanked by great palazzi, the basilica of San Domenico Maggiore, its Gothic form merged into the structures of later centuries, is a treasury of painting and sculpture. In 1272–74, St. Thomas Aquinas taught in the adjoining monastery. Where the intersecting Via Mezzocannone turns south toward the University of Naples, the church of Sant'Angelo a Nilo contains a lofty tomb sculptured by Donatello and Michelozzo. The nearby Renaissance Palazzo Santangelo was a stronghold of the once-mighty Carafa family.

      In the upward transverse of Via San Gregorio Armeno, the church of this name exemplifies the Neapolitan Rococo. In this street, in slotlike shops, figures are made for the innumerable Neapolitan family crèches—culminating each Christmas in a scene of indescribable liveliness and charm. Via San Gregorio Armeno terminates, at its junction with Via Tribunali, in the little Piazza San Gaetano, which overlies the site of the Greek agora and Roman forum. Bounded by the two great churches of San Lorenzo Maggiore and San Paolo Maggiore, and in close proximity to a third—the Gerolomini—this busy space remains a focus of Neapolitan continuity.

      The splendid Gothic church of San Lorenzo Maggiore stands on layers of antiquities. Beneath its cloister, which contains exposed remains from Roman times, a large excavation from the Greek and Roman eras of Naples constitutes—with antiquities discovered below the nearby Duomo—a considerable segment of the ancient city centre. At San Lorenzo Maggiore, in 1334, Boccaccio claimed to have first seen Fiammetta; and there, in November 1345, Petrarch, then lodging in the adjacent monastery, prayed—as he recounts in a memorable letter—for the city's deliverance from a catastrophic storm. San Paolo Maggiore, on the site of a Roman temple, features antiquities incorporated into its handsome exterior and into the adjacent cloister. The great complex of the Gerolomini embraces a magnificent library and a small gallery of Neapolitan pictures. Its entrance on Via del Duomo faces the cathedral (Duomo) of Naples.

The Duomo
      The Duomo is dedicated to the city's patron, St. Januarius (San Gennaro), the liquefaction of whose congealed blood is the stimulus for two popular festivals each year. The rich chapel (or treasury) of St. Januarius forms part of an interior whose abundance of antique columns, painting, sculpture, and fine objects constitutes, not least in its incongruity, a history of Naples. The present church gives access to the early basilica of Santa Restituta and the adjoining baptistery, with 5th-century mosaics, of San Giovanni in Fonte. Near the upper (southern) flank of the cathedral, the 14th-century church of Santa Maria Donnaregina is, in its interior decoration, among the most interesting and beautiful medieval monuments of Naples, while the nearby Santi Apostoli, on the site of a Roman temple, provides a prodigious display of 17th-century Neapolitan painting.

      To the east, the formidable Castel Capuano—site of law courts since the 16th century—rises near the round towers of the Capuana Gate, which in turn overshadow the Renaissance church of Santa Caterina a Formiello. Renaissance also is the decoration, by Giuliano da Maiano, of the exterior arch of this Aragonese city gate. Beyond the Capuana Gate, the northwest-southeast diagonal of Via Carbonara follows the line of demolished city walls. Marked, on its upper slope, by the monumental church of San Giovanni a Carbonara—containing the statuary tomb of King Ladislas and other capital late Gothic and early Renaissance works—Via Carbonara descends, with a change of name, to Piazza Garibaldi and the railway station.

      Toward the end of the 19th century, precipitate change was wrought, from Piazza del Municipio to the railway station, by the slum clearance, or risanamento, that, following a calamitous epidemic of cholera in 1884, drove the straight, ugly Corso Umberto I (also called the Rettifilo) through that historic quarter. The stolid Rettifilo conceals, in small recesses, many historic buildings—beginning with the church of San Pietro Martire and concluding, at Piazza Garibaldi, with that of San Pietro ad Aram and its paleo-Christian crypt. Near Piazza Garibaldi, the Aragonese Nolana Gate is an enclave of busy markets.

      Naples possesses two of the world's great museums, both founded under Bourbon rule. The National Archaeological Museum houses unsurpassed collections of Greco-Roman antiquities, comprising many of the finest works—in marble, bronze, mosaic, fresco, and ceramic—from Herculaneum, Pompeii, and other Campanian sites and the Farnese marbles, a Bourbon inheritance. The museum also possesses significant Egyptian antiquities. Overlooking Naples on the north from its handsome park, the National Museum and Gallery of Capodimonte (Capodimonte, National Museum and Galleries of) contains, together with important tapestries and porcelain, a splendid collection of paintings, including masterworks by Simone Martini, Masaccio, Botticelli, Colantonio, Lotto, Parmigianino, Correggio, Titian, El Greco, and Pieter Bruegel the Elder, and fine examples of the Neapolitan 17th- and 18th-century painters. Following the earthquake of 1980, works by Caravaggio and Titian were removed to Capodimonte from their traditional settings in the city.

      In addition to museums already noted, the civic Filangieri Museum houses, in a Renaissance building on Via del Duomo, a collection of paintings and objects, many of them related to Neapolitan history. At the nearby State Archives, documents of great historic importance are installed in the former Benedictine monastery of SS. Severo and Sossio—a vast complex including, in the Platano cloister, celebrated frescoes by Antonio Solario.

The people
      Travelers in Italy accustomed to grand public squares where visitors may at leisure observe the monuments and manners of the town are often puzzled by Naples' apparent lack of such focal points—not because great piazzas do not exist there, but because they are often used as mere traffic arteries and because the city's life is not so much concentrated in such places as diffused around them. The city's heart will rather be discovered in the small, populous enclaves—animated in the mornings, dormant by afternoon, revived at evening—which, each with distinctive character, make up the town's traditional districts. Intimacy with such a city is necessarily gradual, requiring a state of mind amounting to a revelation.

      Naples, which, following the 18th-century discoveries of the buried cities of Vesuvius, long remained essential to cultivated travel, now serves visitors mainly as a wayside halt to neighbouring sites and resorts. Already in decline, tourism at Naples was sharply reduced by the effects of World War II, which left the city a shambles, and by the cessation of regular sea travel, which no longer brought visitors to the port of Naples. Many of the city's monuments were, moreover, embedded in what modern travelers often viewed as uninviting squalor; and random street crime—making it unsafe to carry items of value—compounded the disadvantages. A new touristic emphasis on brevity, velocity, and large numbers imposed, in turn, requirements that Naples could not meet—the city's riches of ancient continuity and of a slowly unfolding charm being unsuited to a hasty or systematic approach.

      Bypassed by the foreign influx, Naples has thus preserved much authenticity and some skepticism toward modern tenets. Goethe's generalization that Neapolitans “wish even their work to be a recreation” is still valid, however incompatible with economic and administrative realities. While Goethe himself could not resist the northern cliché that Neapolitans are childlike, the tolerant penetration of motive, the graceful absence of envy, belligerence, or nationalism, and above all the civilizing Neapolitan sense of mortality, seem indicative, rather, of a long transmitted comprehension in human affairs.

      Intellectual life in Naples, which is mainly centred around scholars concerned with the classical and Neapolitan past, is marked by high distinction and strong animosities and generates an important and varied literature. Despite the growth of a middle class and a notable advance in the status of women, emphatic divisions persist between prosperous and poor, while, in all classes, history has fatally extinguished—with rare exceptions—the flame of civic spirit. Government corruption and neglect are intensified by bureaucratic confusion and by the violent interventions of the Camorra, an illicit Neapolitan association analogous to the Sicilian Mafia. Nevertheless, with infinite adaptation, a sense of identity is maintained. Many festivals have fallen victim to traffic, and the old Neapolitan songs—now electronically diffused—have no successors. But fervour and fireworks still greet saints and football (soccer) players alike. The ironic Neapolitan dialect holds its own. Individuality and family loyalty remain strong, as does a capacity not only for pleasure but for joy.

The economy
      Naples is the industrial centre of southern Italy. Under the Bourbons the city had an early start in manufacturing, with foundation of the porcelain factory at the royal palace of Capodimonte (Capodimonte, National Museum and Galleries of) in 1740 and the development of silk and other textile production soon thereafter. The textile industry has remained important. Other traditional industries of continuing importance are food processing and winemaking. The first steel mill opened at the end of the 19th century, but the industry did not add significantly to national production until the 1970s. Among the newer industries in the region are electronics manufacturing, petroleum refining, and automobile assembly. The tourist industry continues to be important to the regional economy.

      Industrial development was aided considerably after World War II by the concerted action of state planning and fiscal agencies and of companies either owned or controlled by the national government. Local enterprise was associated with the programs. The region's infrastructure was upgraded extensively and its energy production expanded. Nevertheless, Naples and the whole of southern Italy lags well behind the north.

      In 1818 the first steamboat on the Mediterranean was launched at the royal shipyards in Naples. Remodeling of the ancient harbour and its early medieval additions—now mostly filled in—was begun in 1826. Port facilities were badly damaged during World War II, but the subsequent reconstruction and modernization of its facilities have kept Naples one of the chief Mediterranean ports.

      In 1839 Italy's first railway traversed the five miles from Naples to the royal residence of Portici. The first funicular railway on the peninsula was opened to the heights of Vomero in 1880. Naples developed into an important railway centre, being the main junction between Rome and southern Italy. Since World War II the city also has become a major junction point for road and air travel.


The early period
      Naples was founded about 600 BC as Neapolis (“New City”), close to the more ancient Palaepolis, which had itself absorbed the name of the siren Parthenope. Both towns originated as Greek settlements, extensions almost certainly of Greek colonies established, during the 7th and 6th centuries BC, on the nearby island of Pithecusa (now Ischia) and at Cumae on the adjacent mainland, where remarkable Greek ruins may be visited today. Ancient Neapolis, as Gibbon (Gibbon, Edward) says, “long cherished the language and manners of a Grecian colony; and the choice of Virgil had ennobled this elegant retreat, which attracted the lovers of repose and study from the noise, the smoke, and the laborious opulence of Rome.” Horace (here paraphrased by Gibbon), Virgil, and the Neapolitan poet Statius are among numerous classical writers who attest the Hellenism of Naples. The Greek language was preserved throughout the city's first millennium, surviving submission, in the 4th century BC, to the dominion of Rome.

      Under the empire, Naples and its environs served as a centre of Greek culture and erudition and as a pleasure resort for a succession of emperors and wealthy Romans, whose coastal villas extended from Misenum on the Gulf of Pozzuoli (the ancient Puteoli) to the Sorrentine peninsula. The amenity of these dwellings, depicted in recovered Vesuvian frescoes, is confirmed in such remains as Tiberius' Villa Jovis on Capri, the villa of Oplontis at Torre Annunziata, and the ruins of Villa Pausilypon, which gave its Greek name—meaning “a pause from care”—to the headland of Posillipo. Near Herculaneum, the buried private establishment known as the Villa of the Papyri yielded, in the mid-18th century, a treasure of antique sculpture and a group of papyrus scrolls presumed to belong to an ancient library. These scrolls, many of them deciphered, are conserved in the National Library at Naples. The villa was never uncovered, and its 18th-century tunnels of approach were reopened only in 1987. A floor plan drawn up in the 18th century was the basis for the J. Paul Getty Museum at Malibu, Calif., U.S.

      In Roman times Naples was adorned with temples and baths and with arenas similar to those surviving at Pozzuoli and Pompeii. Principal Roman roads connected the city to the capital, and aqueducts supplied fresh water. The gulfs of Naples and Pozzuoli were linked by galleries pierced through the yellow tufa of lower Posillipo. Of these, an evocative example may be visited at Mergellina, at the Crypta Neapolitana, beside the Roman tumulus long venerated as the Tomb of Virgil, in tribute to the Mantuan poet who celebrated the Neapolitan ambience in the sixth book of his Aeneid and composed the Georgics there between 37 and 30 BC.

      In AD 79 the great eruption of Vesuvius buried the seaside towns of Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Stabiae, engulfing also many villas confidently constructed on the slopes of a mountain that had not erupted for more than seven centuries. A contemporary account of this event survives in two letters addressed to the historian Tacitus by Pliny the Younger, who describes the doomed attempt of his uncle, the polymathic elder Pliny, to rescue survivors by sea. More than 16 centuries later, in 1738, systematic excavation of the buried towns was inaugurated at Herculaneum, under the aegis of the Neapolitan Bourbons—initiating discoveries that would profoundly influence Western aesthetic and scientific concepts and transform our knowledge of the ancient world.

      Early tribulations of Christians at Naples are exemplified in the martyrdom of the city's patron, St. Januarius (Januarius, Saint). The Catacombs of St. Januarius, on the Capodimonte slope, antedate in their earliest section the saint's legendary decapitation in AD 305 and are extremely interesting historically and for paleo-Christian decoration. Other early Christian sites include the baptistery incorporated in the Duomo, the ancient apse at the nearby church of San Giorgio Maggiore, and the Catacombs of San Gaudioso below the great church of Santa Maria della Sanità in one of the city's most colourful districts.

      During the decline of the Roman Empire, Naples suffered with all the Italian Peninsula, and, having espoused the Gothic cause, drew, in 536, the vengeance of the Roman commander Belisarius. In the division of the late empire the city remained, with some vacillation, under the Exarchate of Ravenna until the 8th century when, rebelling against the Eastern emperors, Naples established a form of republican government that secured embattled independence for more than three centuries. Succumbing at last to the Lombard power established at Capua and Benevento, Naples saw the Lombards dispossessed, in turn, by the Norman conquests that swept southern Italy in the 12th century. While including Naples in that turbulent subjugation, Norman—and, subsequently, Swabian—dominion elevated the metropolis to a regional and cultural capital, a position Naples would retain under diverse rulers until the 19th century. Although maintaining his court at Palermo, the Holy Roman emperor Frederick II fortified Naples, founded the university there in 1224, and nurtured, in a rebellious ambience, the city's intellectual life.

Naples from the Angevins to the Risorgimento
      In 1266 establishment of the Angevin dynasty in Naples renewed the city's importance—formidably proclaimed by erection of the Castel Nuovo and the Sant'Elmo fortress. The Angevin kings and their Aragonese successors attracted to Naples great figures of Italian thought and literature and the northern architects and artists whose genius survives in many Gothic and Renaissance monuments. Under Alfonso V of Aragon—a monarch, in the words of the historian Jacob Burckhardt, “brilliant in his whole existence”—culture at Naples transcended warfare. In 1453 fugitives from the fall of Constantinople brought an infusion of Byzantine arts. The growth of Neapolitan political power is implicit in the visit of Lorenzo de'Medici, ruler of Florence, to the court of Ferdinand (Ferrante) I in 1479–80.

      In 1503 Naples entered the possession of the Spanish Habsburgs (Habsburg, House of), whose viceroys presided with autocratic severity for more than two centuries. Great churches, convents, and private palaces from this period testify to a concentration of power against which an oppressed populace might periodically but ineffectually rebel—as in the ill-fated revolt led by Masaniello (Tomaso Aniello) in 1647–48. This harsh viceregal power was terminated by Austrian conquest (1707). And, in 1734, Naples became, under the Spanish Bourbons (Bourbon, House of), the capital of a large independent southern kingdom, Don Carlos (the future Charles III of Spain) assuming the old and all but impenetrable title of “king of the Two Sicilies.”

      Naples now burgeoned as a potent European capital, its implacable divisions of wealth and poverty thrown in relief by 18th-century illumination. It is significant that, despite the importance of preceding Neapolitan artists, it was only with the 18th century that Naples developed its own school of painting. Scholars and statesmen from that era—such as Giambattista Vico, Pietro Giannone, Bernardo Tanucci, Ferdinando Galiani, and Gaetano Filangieri—are of universal rather than exclusively Neapolitan distinction. Another period of prolific construction is commemorated in Bourbon public edifices—including the royal palaces of Portici and Caserta—and in private mansions. The Vesuvian littoral again became a site of busy communities and of the elegant Ville Vesuviane, today mostly in disrepair. The excavations at Herculaneum and Pompeii attracted foreign visitors, while, in a climate of Neoclassicism and incipient Romanticism, artists, writers, and scholars arrived to experience the Neapolitan ambience. Depictions of the city and its surroundings—and of its presiding volcano, somewhat slighted by earlier painters—now found their way around the world.

      At the court of Ferdinand IV (Ferdinand I) (Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies) and his masterful queen, Maria Carolina, the cultivated British envoy Sir William Hamilton forged an Anglo-Neapolitan bond that lingers today. Maria Carolina's repressive tendencies were traumatically intensified by the execution in 1793 of her sister Marie Antoinette, queen of France. With the irruption of Napoleon into Italy (1798), the royal family withdrew in panic to Palermo aboard Admiral Horatio Nelson's British ships. The Neapolitan educated classes proclaimed a republic, while the Neapolitan poor, the lazzaroni, abandoned by their sovereign, remained vigorously if incomprehensibly monarchist. The nobly conceived Parthenopean Republic collapsed in a welter of blood. A punitive return by the Bourbons and the execution or exile of the republicans make the year 1799 a tragic epoch in the Neapolitan story.

      In 1805 the court fled anew to Palermo, and, until 1815, the Kingdom of Naples was ruled, with legislative reforms, by Napoleon's brother Joseph Bonaparte and, subsequently, by Joachim Murat. Following the fall of Napoleon, the Bourbons reentered Naples with Austrian assistance. However, the weakness and corruption of succeeding Bourbon monarchs and their ruthless suppression of progressive ideas set the scene for Giuseppe Garibaldi's triumphant entry into the city in 1860 and for absorption of Naples into the Kingdom of Italy.

The modern city
      Deprived of territorial power, the city of Naples has, since the late 19th century, increasingly sought survival in an elusive and temperamentally incompatible degree of industrialization and in the ingenuity of its citizens, whose gifts for improvisation have been called forth no less by modern bureaucratic riddles than by the indifference of past monarchies. The cholera epidemic of 1884 aroused a transient spirit of reform, reflected in slum clearance, modernization of water and transport systems, and other public works. (A striking contemporary account of the epidemic and its context may be found in Il ventre di Napoli, by the journalist Matilde Serao. In 1973, during a brief reappearance of cholera in the city, this book, reissued, was found all too apposite.) The optimism of the risanamento was blighted by the onset of World War I.

      The rise of fascism in Italy, compounded by the Great Depression of the 1930s, darkened the interval between the wars—from which, at Naples, the philosopher Benedetto Croce and other enlightened figures stand forth in defense of humanity and reason. While Naples shared with all Italy the degradation of fascism, few Italian cities suffered so heavily in World War II or made so painful and incomplete a recovery. Concerted restoration of decaying monuments was only inaugurated, in any appreciable degree, in the 1980s. That the city survived the postwar period without complete economic and social collapse can be attributed almost exclusively to the vitality and philosophy of its populace and to the Neapolitan ability to combine strong passions with a resilient endurance.

Additional Reading

Sir William Hamilton, Campi Phlegraei (1776), offers illustrated observations on the area of volcanic activity that influences the environment of Naples. Other relevant historic writings include Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe, Italian Journey, 1786–1788, trans. from German by W.H. Auden and Elizabeth Mayer (1962, reprinted 1982), a travel diary, completed in 1816–17, with celebrated chapters on Naples; and Norman Douglas, Siren Land (1911, reprinted 1982), an illuminating discussion of the ancient Neapolitan setting, Capri, and Sorrento. Desmond Seward (ed.), Naples, a Travellers' Companion (1984), is an anthology of writings on Naples by authors from the 13th to the mid-19th century. Peter Gunn, The Companion Guide to Southern Italy (1969); and H.V. Morton, A Traveller in Southern Italy (1969, reprinted 1987), are descriptive guidebooks. Essential information is collected in the detailed guidebook Napoli e dintorni, 5th ed. (1976). Social conditions, the poor, and especially children are the topic of Maria Carmela Barbiero (ed.), Gli eredi della povertà: stabilità e mutamento nel sottoproletariato nepoletano (1981); Judith Chubb, Patronage, Power, and Poverty in Southern Italy: A Tale of Two Cities (1982); and Thomas Belmonte, The Broken Fountain (1979). For an analysis of political developments, see P.A. Allum, Politics and Society in Post-War Naples (1973).

A fundamental encyclopaedic work, dealing authoritatively with every aspect of Neapolitan history, is Storia di Napoli, 11 vol. in 14 (1967–78), published by the Società Editrice Storia di Napoli; it is complemented by “Napoli Nobilissima,” a series of brief scholarly monographs on every aspect of Neapolitan history, which periodically is bound into volumes. John H. D'Arms, Romans on the Bay of Naples: A Social and Cultural Study of the Villas and Their Owners from 150 BC to AD 400 (1970), traces the life and culture through the analysis of the remains of important constructions; Martin Frederiksen, Campania (1984), is a history of the region beginning with antiquity. Giovanni Pugliese Carratelli et al., Megale Hellas: storia e civiltà della Magna Grecia (1983), provides a comprehensive scholarly history of Greek civilization in southern Italy. Urban Naples and its administration in the Greek and Roman periods are examined in Bartolommeo Capasso, Napoli graeco-romana (1905, reprinted 1978).Works on later historical periods include Gino Doria, Storia di una capitale: Napoli dalle origini al 1860, 6th rev. ed. (1975), covering the period up to the absorption of Naples into the Kingdom of Italy; Jerry H. Bentley, Politics and Culture in Renaissance Naples (1987); Vincenzo Cuoco, Saggio storico sulla rivoluzione napoletana del 1799, new ed. (1929, reissued 1980), on the Parthenopean Republic and the revolution; Benedetto Croce, La rivoluzione napoletana del 1799, 8th ed. (1968), on the personalities of the revolution; Harold Acton, The Bourbons of Naples, 1734–1825 (1956, reprinted 1974), and The Last Bourbons of Naples, 1825–1861 (1961); Pietro Colletta, History of the Kingdom of Naples, 1734–1825, 2 vol. (1858; originally published in Italian, 1834); and John A. Davis, Merchants, Monopolists, and Contractors: A Study of Economic Activity and Society in Bourbon Naples, 1815–1860 (1981), on Bourbon rule in Naples. An essential comprehensive survey is provided in Benedetto Croce, Storia del regno di Napoli, 5th ed. (1984).For the modern period, see Peter Gunn, Naples: A Palimpsest (1961), a popular history including modern developments; and Giancarlo Alisio, Napoli e il risanamento: recupero di una struttura urbana (1980), a study of urban renewal after the cholera epidemic of 1884.

Arts and architecture
Roberto Pane, Il Rinascimento nell'Italia meridionale, 2 vol. (1975), is a pioneering work on Renaissance art and architecture in Naples. Pierluigi Leone De Castris, Arte di corte nella Napoli angiona (1986), treats the arts and art patronage under Angevin rule. Other works include Rudolf Wittkower, Art and Architecture in Italy, 1600 to 1750, 3rd ed. (1973, reprinted with corrections and augmented bibliography, 1980); Sacheverell Sitwell, Southern Baroque Art: A Study of Painting, Architecture, and Music in Italy and Spain of the 17th & 18th Centuries (1924, reprinted 1971); Anthony Blunt, Neapolitan Baroque & Rococo Architecture (1975); Roberto Pane, Architettura dell'età barocca Napoli (1939); Roberto Pane et al., Ville vesuviane del settecento (1959); Benedetto Croce, I teatri di Napoli: dal Rinascimento alla fine del secolo decimotavo, 5th ed. (1966), on the theatre from the Renaissance to the end of the 18th century; and Michael F. Robinson, Naples and Neapolitan Opera (1972, reprinted 1984), a careful historical study.Shirley Hazzard

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Universalium. 2010.

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