Even being out of the city center, no list with Things to do in Naples It is complete without visiting the San Gennaro Catacombs. For me, it was one of the highlights of my trip to the amazing capital of Campania.
The Catacombs of San Gennaro span almost 5.800 square meters, but only a portion is open to visitors. According to official literature, according to Greek and Roman law, it was forbidden to bury the dead within the walls; which is why the catacombs began to be excavated on Capodimonte hill.
Over time, catacombs will have been used for both pagan burials and Christians. They are formed by several interconnected chambers, distributed over two distinct levels, built over time underground. The upper level of the catacombs, for example, are believed to have once been a private crypt owned by a wealthy Neapolitan family.
The Catacombs of San Gennaro are thus an underground cemetery, carved into the porous rock of the Capodimonte slope in the north of Naples. They are not an imposing palace or cathedral, but I confess that I have a fascination for places like this. In a way, they reminded me of Malta Hypogeum.
My visit to the Catacombs of San Gennaro
The catacombs are currently underground in the Rione Sanità neighborhood. They were recovered at the initiative of the local community, which began the work of recovery, preservation and openness to tourism as a way to value the neighborhood, create jobs and finance the same preservation. The visit is currently only possible with a local guide.
I arrived a few minutes before the right time for the start of a tourNo advance ticket bought, but luckily I got a seat. In the company of a friendly young woman born in the neighborhood, we walked down the steps to the entrance to the catacombs.
Inside, I was welcomed by a dark, cold environment, dimly lit by lights discreet enough not to eliminate the mysticism of the underground corridors.
The guide was understandably explaining what archaeologists and historians know about the history of the catacombs. There are more questions than absolute certainties, but it is certain that the remains of San Gennaro were there until they were stolen by Sicone I, Prince of Benevento.
Regardless of whether or not to believe in the miracle associated with blood of San Gennaro, the catacombs are precious. In addition to the unique architecture, they are also home to a significant collection of frescoes and mosaics from the 9th and 10th centuries. And it was precisely the frescoes of the things that caught my attention in the Catacombs of San Gennaro.
And so I wandered on the trail of the guide, attracted by some frescoes in acceptable condition, painted in the chambers. I then descended to the lower level of the catacombs, but it no longer fascinated me in the same way. I quickly visited the underground chapel and it was not long before I left the catacombs and started down the slope towards the center of Naples.
It was a fantastic visit!
The easiest way to get to the Catacombs of San Gennaro from central Naples is by taking a bus (numbers 168 and C63 stop at the door). That's what I did. On my return, I chose to walk down, walking through areas of the city that I would not otherwise have known.
Note: Since you are only allowed to visit the San Gennaro Catacombs with a guide and at predetermined times, I advise you to purchase the ticket in advance. You can do it on official website from the catacombs.
Where to stay
For more detailed information on the different regions of the city, see the post specific where to stay in naples, in which I explain the advantages and disadvantages of each location.
Finally, if you prefer the heart of the city, around the Via Toledo / Plebiscito Squarechoose guesthouse ToledoStation B&B (with a lot of color and style); or the elegant That's Napoli, Rest to Napoli e Montecalvario 41, among others.
For other accommodation options, for all tastes and prices, please see link below.
A World Nomads offers one of the best and most complete travel insurance recommended by National Geographic and Lonely Planet. Other excellent and cheaper option is IATI Seguros, which has no age limit and allows multivariate insurance (including long-term travel) to any destination in the world. It's the insurance I use in my travels.