San Gregorio Armeno and the San Lorenzo Maggiore Complex
San Gregorio Armeno is known as Naples' "Christmas Alley", one of the most famous and visited lanes in the city's historic center. A popular sight all year long, this short stretch is particularly crowded with visitors in the months of November and December, drawn to the historic artisan shops where traditional nativity scene figurines are crafted by hand. Locals come each Christmas season to purchase new figurines to add to the family nativity scene or simply to see what celebrities have been immortalized that year.
The artisan workshops where traditional Neapolitan nativity scene figurines and set pieces are crafted are open all year round, so San Gregorio Armeno is a fascinating destination any time of year, though it is at its most vibrant (and crowded) during the Christmas season.
Getting to San Gregorio Armeno
San Gregorio Armeno is located in Naples' historic center; the lane is in the heart of the city's limited traffic area and can only be reached on foot. The short stretch of road connects the Decumano Maggiore (Via dei Tribunali) with the Decumano Inferiore, best known as Spaccanapoli at San Biagio dei Librai.
The best way to approach San Gregorio Armeno is by strolling along Spaccanapoli, setting off from Piazza del Gesù and following Via Benedetto Croce, after taking a few minutes to visit the Monastery of Santa Chiara. Pass through Piazza San Domenico and continue to San Biagio dei Librari until it crosses San Gregorio Armeno on the left.
Walk the length of San Gregorio Armeno to Piazza San Gaetano on the opposite side, home to the entrance to Naples Underground. Head below the modern city to discover its hidden side, stop to enjoy a pizza in one of the many neighborhood pizzerias, or climb Via San Gregorio Armeno to the San Lorenzo Maggiore Complex''', site of the city's ancient main square known as the agorà.
San Gregorio Armeno by Car or Train
Via San Gregorio Armeno is in Naples' "old town", a neighborhood that is largely closed to traffic.
If you are travelling to Naples by car, you can leave it in one of the staffed car parks along Via Duomo, Corso Umberto, or Piazza Cavour. We also recommend parking at the Brin car park at the exit from the motorway and getting around the city with public transport from there.
The closest underground metro stop is “Dante” along line 1 toward Piscinola. From here, walk through the Port’Alba arch to enter the historic center and in just a few minutes you'll reach Via San Gregorio Armeno
Tips for Visiting San Gregorio Armeno
Weekends in November and December are the most popular time of year to visit San Gregorio Armeno, and the lane can get so crowded that it's hard to walk through or stop to admire the windows. If you want to avoid the throngs, arrive early in the morning or visit on a weekday. If you are travelling with young children, opt for a baby front or back carrier rather than a stroller.
Must-See Shops on Via San Gregorio Armeno
The artisans along Via San Gregorio Armeno carry on the tradition rooted in the 1700s, and the classic "presepe napoletano", or Neapolitan nativity scene, centers around the figures of Joseph, Mary, ,and the baby Jesus. Around the holy family, a number of stock figures recalling the culture of Naples are often grouped, including a "pizzaiolo" pizza chef or a group of men playing cards. Each year, new figurines are created based on the most prominent politicians, sports figures, celebrities, or other personalities of the moment....these are more novelty items than figurines meant to be added to the nativity scene.
The most famous workshops are Ferrigno and Maddaloni, where you can purchase true works of art like intricate nativity scenes under glass or figurines with rich clothing made of silk and brocade.
For those with a more limited budget, there are plenty of small figurines that can be purchased for just a few euros.
Where to Eat Near San Gregorio Armeno
San Gregorio is in the heart of Naples' old town, where there are plenty of choices for snacking or dining. That said, be prepared for long lines that often form outside the most popular landmark pizzerias.
Most restaurants and pizzerias do not take reservations; if there is a line, step inside to leave your name on the waitlist and you will be called when your table is ready.
The most famous pizzerias that are a short walk away:
- Di Matteo
- La Pizzeria del Presidente
- Antica Pizzeria da Michele
- Pizzeria De’ Figliole (only "pizza fritta", or fried pizza)
For a traditional trattoria, we recommend Campagnola; otherwise, there are a number of storefront street food vendors who serve fried delicacies, an excellent alternative to the crowded pizzerias during the busy weekends in December.
Visiting the San Lorenzo Maggiore Complex
The Monumental Complex of San Lorenzo Maggiore sits on what was once the main square of the city of Naples during ancient Greek and Roman times, known as the agorà. You can visit the ancient ruins beneath the basilica to admire the what remains of the Antico Foro di Neapolis, or ancient forum o Neapolis. On the site of today's Piazza di San Gaetano, there was a large square that led to what is now Via dei Tribunali built in the fourth century BC.
Hidden 10 meters below street level, the ancient streets lined with butcher shops, taverns, laundries, and other shops can still be admired. After the fifth century, the area began to change and this urban evolution culminated in the construction of the basilica and convent in the 13th century.
On the upper level of the complex, you can admire the richly frescoed Sala Capitolare, the grandeur of Sisto V and the Gothic basilica, and the Museo dell’Opera with its collection that spans from Naples' Greek roots to the 1800s, almost 2,500 years.
Hours, Prices, and Information for Visiting the San Lorenzo Maggiore Complex
The compex is open daily from 9:30AM to 5:30PM
Adult: EUR 10
Children from 6 to 18: EUR 7
Children under 6: free
Guided tours are included in the admission ticket price and are offered according to the following schedule:
From Monday to Thursday:
Guided tours in Italian: 10:30, noon, 1:30, 3, 4:30, 5:30
Guided tours in English: 10:40, 12:10, 1:40, 3:10, 4:20, 5:40
Friday, Saturday, Sunday
Guided tours in Italian: 10:30, 11:30, 12:30, 1:30, 2:30, 3:30, 4:30, 5:30
Guided tours in English: 10:40, 12:10, 1:40, 3:10, 4:20, 5:40
You can purchase tickets online and show them via your smartphone without having to carry a printed copy.
The San Lorenzo Maggiore Complex is accessible for wheelchair users and strollers, with the exception of the archaeological area.