The underground of Naples is still being discovered, and only small parts have been uncovered for tourists to explore, however these areas are possible to see with a guided tour and it is fascinating to get a chance to see the streets that lie under this busy city.
Yesterday I went on this tour: http://www.napolisotterranea.org/en/naples-underground/ and it was incredibly enjoyable. Our English tour guide was friendly and informative, I have just realised now that I didn’t catch her name, and it costs ten euros per person. It’s a fairly casually arranged affair, you turn up at the time the tour starts (I got there just before the 4pm English tour) and can pay as you enter.
The tour describes the history of the streets under the city, from its origins as a Greek-Roman Aqueduct (and the fairly hard-life of the well cleaners), from being used as a rubbish dumb, to bomb shelters during WWII. We were also told on the tour about the four-day rebellion against the Nazis in Naples, and I am amazed that I have not heard more about this before. More research post-tour (yes, from Wikipedia) tells me that The Four Days of Naples (Quattro giornate di Napoli) was during 27 and 30 September 1943 and involved the uprising against German forces occupying the city during World War II. The occupiers were forced out by the people of the city and the Italian Resistance before the arrival of allied forces in Naples on October 1st. For this the city was awarded the Gold Medal of Military Valor.
On this tour there are some tight squeezes, which are optional, where I could just about walk facing forwards, most opted for crab-style. During this part we were also given candles to hold to light our way, something I found incredibly exciting and insisted my companion take a photo of myself with a candle. The second half of the tour takes you to see the old theatre, aka the basements of the surrounding Neapolitan houses. Here you are told the fascinating story of how the old theatre was discovered, and can marvel at how integrated this old piece of history is with modern living. The old area of the theatre we were standing in was next door to someone’s kitchen. Apparently, even if they could buy all of these buildings, it would be impossible to reveal the old theatre as its structure is dependent on the modern buildings surrounding it – and there is something I love about this.
The tour is around two hours (though it did not feel like it), shorter if you don’t elect to see the old theatre, and definitely worth seeing. Right in the centre of town, in Piazza San Gaetano 68, it is easy to integrate this with exploring the rest of old town Naples. Further, the turning is just off Via Tribunali which is famous for its pizza (famous even within Naples) and a great way to start or end a tour of the underground.