Deep in the heart of historic Naples

{ Naples, Italy - May 2011 }

Walking down the chaotic historic centre of Naples, you would never guess that there is a whole world deep underground. There are various sites and tours that bring visitors under the city, but on our visit we decided to explore the Naples' underground with Napoli Sotterranea, which literally means Naples Underground.

We were led to an apartment building, down a flight of stairs into the remains of a Roman theatre. Imagine, to be living in a building not knowing that it was built on a couple of thousands year old theatre! According to our guide, Emperor Nero, the Roman emperor, sang in this theatre through an earthquake. Many families are still living in the apartment above it. 

We were then brought to another passageway, down hundreds of steps underground, into what used to be a Greco-Roman aqueduct during the Roman times. The aqueduct was eventually not used, and the water redirected. Standing inside the aqueduct, I could not help but marvel at the amazing feats of engineering to build this aqueduct thousands of years ago. It was huge in both width and height, and the relatively stale air was cool. 

The aqueduct could fit hundreds of people, which it did during World War II. It was used as a bomb shelter during the world war, offering protection to the Neapolitans as their city was bombarded by the military. There were toy cars, beds and sewing machine on display, showing how the locals lived underground for days during those times. 

We were then given a candle each, with the lights switched off (for effect, of course), and walked along a long, narrow passageway where water once flowed through, to a cistern. The water in the cistern was pumped in from above just to show us how it would have been when it was in used. We were then brought back up into the historic centre of Naples, which in retrospect, was not as historic as what we have seen deep under the streets.

::: Footnotes :::

Napoli Sotterranea } Napoli Sotterranea provides two hours guided underground tours in English a few times a day, for Euro 9.30 per person. You can find them at Piazza San Gaetano 68, call them at +39 081 296 944, email them at and find more information at

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