Naples Underground (Napoli Sotterranea)
Naples Underground (Napoli Sotterranea) is one of the most popular attractions in Naples. This underground route that includes everything from Roman ruins to caverns used as bomb shelters during World War II provides a fascinating glimpse into the history of Naples that is compelling for both adults and younger travelers. The route is easily accessible and can be enjoyed the entire family and even travelers who suffer from claustrophobia.
Departure point: Via San Gaetano n. 68 (in the historic center of Naples)
Hours: open daily; tours are offered in English at 10AM, noon, 2PM, 4PM, and 6PM.
Duration: 90 minutes
Tickets: EUR 10 for adults; children under 5 free; discount for children between 5 and 17 years of age.
Private tours and tours in languages other than English and Italian can also be booked.
The Napoli Sotterranea tour begins at Via San Gaetano, a cross street of Via dei Tribunali, in the heart of Naples' historic center. At the entrance, there are 136 low and easy to navigate steps that take you 40 meters below the modern city. Here, you can admire caverns carved into the soft tufo stone in the fourth century and first used as cisterns for water; in the mid-20th century, these same rooms protected locals from air strikes. The tour then passes the earthquake monitoring station to visit a number of ancient ruins, including burial tombs. The route take about an hour to complete and the spaces are all quite large. There is one tight passage that is about 10 meters in length, is lit only by candles, and leads to a cistern; visiting this portion of the route is optional and those who would rather avoid this enclosed space can sit it out on a nearby bench.
After the initial section, the tour continues with a visit to an ancient Greek - Roman theater. The theater is accessed through a “secret hatch” hidden beneath the bed of a ground-floor apartment (traditional Neapolitan “basso” apartments) and is the remains of a performance space dating from the Emperor Nero, as well as a number of canals dating from the time of the Bourbon reign and decorated with delightful majolica ceramics.
At the end of the tour, you can stop at the War Museum (Museo della Guerra) to admire documents and other artifacts from the Second World War.
Getting to Napoli Sotteranea
The Napoli Sotterranea tour beginning point is located in the historic center of the city where vehicular traffic is limited, so can only be reached on foot. The nearest metro station is Dante one line 1 (direction Piscinola).
If you are arriving by car, park at the Duomo, Piazza Cavour, or Corso Umberto parking garages, which are all about a 10-minute walk from the entrance of Napoli Sotteranea.
Tips for Visiting
The route is not challenging and anyone can visit. If you are travelling with young children, opt for a baby carrier or backpack rather than a stroller as there are a number of steps; there is a baby stroller (pushchair) parking area at the entrance. The steps are wide, have a handrail, and are easy to navigate even for those who have to be cautious about stairs.
The underground spaces are all quite large and are suitable even for visitors who suffer from claustrophobia. Visitors can decide to leave the tour at any point and return to ground level if they decide that they are not comfortable remaining underground.
The temperatures inside Naples Underground remain quite cool all year round, so bring a light jacket or sweater in the summer months.