This 1-1/2 to 2 hour guided tour takes you to two underground locations. One takes you underneath a present-day apartment building to see the walls of the ancient Greek-Roman theatre-colosseum, and the other takes you to Greek cisterns that were Naples source of water right up until 1884. Later, they were used as bomb shelters during WWII. I really loved this tour because it explained how and why things worked in the ancient times and still do today. I looked and thought about buildings differently than I had before.
Tours are given Monday to Friday at 12:00, 14:00, 16:00. Saturday, Sunday and holidays at 10:00, 12:00, 14:00, 16:00, and 18:00. There were some very long stairs, so people with knee problems should be aware.
I didn't take any pictures while underground, though you can. These are pictures of places we stood while the guide pointed things out before we descended. The first one is a beautiful, vacant palazzo. The other photo is of a building that shows it's Greek foundation columns.
It is basically Naples' equivalent of the Roman catacombs.
The only difference is that these underground passgaeways and chambers run under the main part of the city.
The entrance is not clearly marked but not extremely hard to find because it is so central.
There are tours in English and for the more romantic at heart, you get your own candle to light your way.
Although it is not something that most do when in the city I strongly recommend it.
Napoli Sotterranea is made up of yellow sandstone, extracted by Greeks and Romans and used to build houses, than, during the Roman period this underground was changed into aqueduct built by Augustus (a roman emperor ). It started from an artificial basin fed by the Serino River and reached Naples via a duct that was completely buried in the city. It’s over 170 km long.
During the World War II, the old aqueduct was used as air-raid shelter.
Exploring “Napoli Sotterranea”, you can go over some historic events and relive the emotions of
refugees during the war, like reading on the wall of a small room: Anna e Renzo oggi sposi XX-09-43>> (Anna and Renzo just married), but, also to know that in this place a woman gave birth to her daughter.
Many stories are told about this site and the most suggesting is “Monaciello’s one” (little monk).
The neapolitans use to say that when something disappears from their house it is monaciello’s fault (Monaciello is the ghost of a little boy dressed as a monk).
But the monaciello was only a "Pozzaro", a professional man who drew water from underground cisterns and provided houses whit it. He entered and came out to the houses trought the wells. In doing this he took some objects with him. He ware a black hooded cloak and looked like a monk.
ps. It’s bettere to wear a sweater even in summertime, its cold down there!
[Egicom05 - Naples Eyes]
First you must choose which tour to go on. They offer tours in Italian, German and English. Then you decend down 138 steps into the heart of the city where the guide takes you on an 1.5 hour tour of the "caverns" There you learn about the way it was built, the way it was used during WWII for a shelter, and why it was stopped being used because of the Cholera epidemic. It is truly an architectural masterpiece given the time it was built.
Just on top of the underground lies the enormous body of the Basilica di San Paolo Maggiore, which was constructed in the place on which the Roman Temple of Dioscuri once stood. The Basilica of San Lorenzo Maggiore has the deambulatorio that crosses the dome and makes it one of the most important examples of gothic style in Italy, giving a religious presence to the commercial urban center, which was once a piazza (Agorà) in the Greek Neapolis.
Immediatlely after the enormous bell that emerges from the side, lies Via di San Gregorio Armeno, which was known as Via Degli Augustali in Roman times. Now days has the name of “Via dei Pastori,” which means “Street of the Shepards”, because of the numerous artisan shops that build biblical dioramas on this street. Returning to the piazza, we cross Via Dei Tribunali which was once a major street of Greek-Roman Naples.
This street runs into a smaller street with a close end, that takes us to the fascinating world of underground Naples.