Catacombe di Napoli
Exploring the underground Catacombs
of San Gennaro in Naples, Italy
I always look forward to the weekends here. We are still in temporary lodging while we are working out our housing contract so the weekdays aren't always exciting. We spent most of Saturday afternoon at the Centro Commerciale Campania, which is actually a quite humongous American-style mall. With ZARA...enough said. I am obsessed. After our shopping spree and Italian Apple store experience, we went to Vomero in downtown Naples for dinner and drinks with Tim's coworkers. Dinner was at a casual, but very popular, family restaurant called Trattoria Vanvitelli. There were tables full of large families, longtime friends, and an 82 year old celebrating his birthday complete with the entire restaurant dimming the lights and singing to him before he blew out his candles. It was so sweet. Italians are really all about family.
We had to make a second visit to our favorite bar, Archivio Storico. This bar has a posh, romantic vibe with an underground entrance hidden by a huge painting on the wall that moves to the left as you walk up. Yessss. Add to that, talented bartenders making craft cocktails and its the perfect atmosphere to spend time with your friends or your sweetie.
Sunday morning came quickly (Italians stay out late!) and it was time to explore more of this old city. It was rainy and chilly outside so we decided on The Catacombs! This ancient underground series of tombs and basilicas dates back to the 2nd century. All of the bodies have since been removed and have been buried in a nearby cemetery so you can see each of the tombs carved out of hard volcanic rock. The patron saint of Naples, San Gennaro, was once buried here so it is an important religious site for Italians. My favorite part was seeing the ancient frescos painted on the walls and ceilings. One depicted the wealthy family of three buried in a private room and others were Christian symbols including crosses, Adam & Eve, and grapes representing the blood of Christ. It is difficult to fathom just how old they are. The private company who runs the tours has done an excellent job of restoring this site and making it enjoyable to everyone. The tour can be in English or Italian and is wheelchair accessible. Plus, they have metal tactile plates for the visually impaired to feel what the frescos look like so they too can fully experience The Catacombs. The best part is, young people from local schools have spearheaded those projects. How cool is that?!
And like all our great adventures, we ended the afternoon with pizza. I swear each pizza is better than the last.
-Dress warmly. It is chilly underground.
-Tours run every hour so plan accordingly. There is a little cafe with espresso and pastries inside to pass the time.
-We did see someone bring a dog so that is fine if they are well behaved. We didn't bring the sausage dog because we weren't sure ahead of time.
-Tickets were 9 Euro for one adult and 6 for a student. They did not participate in the free museum Sundays (first Sunday of every month) because they are a private organization.
-Your ticket here also includes free admission to The Catacombs of San Gaudioso for up to one year.
-There weren't many walkable restaurants around. We went to Jamm Ja's up the road. It was delicious but we had to cross a busy road twice each way to get to it. Oh, Naples.
-FREE parking on site by the church!! Just be warned that is does close when the tours close for the day. We learned the hard way ;)
Ciao Bella xoxo,