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Hidden Gems and Secret Spots in Naples You Must Visit

Last Updated on 29th September 2022 by Sophie Nadeau

Napoli is a vibrant gritty city which is beautiful and chaotic simultaneously. Rich layers overlap one another to create a modern metropolis that’s the 4th largest city in Italy. The gateway to the Amalfi Coast and the birthplace of Neapolitan style pizza, here’s your guide to the best hidden gems and secret spots in Naples

For more inspiration about visiting Naples, be sure to check out our guide on how to spend one day in Naples.

Hidden Gems and Secret Spots in Naples You Must Visit

Busto di Pulcinella

Situated just off the Via dei Tribulani, the main street which crosses through the centro storico (historic centre) of Naples, the Busto di Pulcinella is a little symbol of luck that you may well miss if you’re not looking closely enough.

Pulcinella is a local character which was created in the commedia dell’arte in the 17th-century. Pulcinella is typically a schemer and a thief and has since become a common character in Neapolitan puppetry. The sculpture on Vico del Fico Al Purgatorio was created in 2012 as a gift from the artist Lello Esposito to the city of Naples.

It’s locally believed that if you rub Pulcinella’s nose, then you’ll be blessed with good luck, or at the very least, the chance to return to Naples! Whether this is true or not, one thing is clear: Pulcinella’s nose has been well rubbed and gleans a golden hue as opposed to its original bronze patination.

Busto di Pulcinella

Purgatorio ad Arco

Just across the street from the bust of Pulcinella, visitors will soon come across one of the more unique churches which Naples has to offer. Beautiful and slightly dilapidated, much like the rest of the city, the church of Santa Maria delle Anime del Purgatorio ad Arco was constructed in the 17th-century.

While this is not unusual or off the beaten path in of itself, what is unique about this place of worship is that there are actually two churches on the site constructed on top of one another; one in the basement and another on the ground floor.

A bronze skull sculpture on the bollard at the steps to the entrance of the church signals that you’re in the right place. The ecclesiastical building is dedicated to pray for souls in purgatory.

Though the church is listed as being open later, the underground church is only open until 2 PM, with last entrance at 1:45 PM. The upper church is free to visit while you’ll have to pay the underground area.

Purgatorio ad Arco

Galleria Principe di Napoli

Of course, everyone headed to the city of Milan has heard of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, a grand covered arcade which is filled with shops and residences. However, what you may not realise is that Naples, too, has its own covered arcades, though perhaps not as in such good condition as those of Milano.

Galleria Principe di Napoli is a little off the beaten path on the fringes of the historic city centre. Constructed between 1870 and 1883 to serve as a shopping centre, the gallery unfortunately fell into poor repair and the northern part actually collapsed in 1965.

Following extensive repairs in 2007 and 2008, the arcade was open once more to the public in 2009 and is now free to visit and wander through. Nearby, the Mosto bar lies in the shadow of the gallery and is a fun spot to grab a beer or an Aperol Spritz as the sun goes down.

Galleria Principe di Napoli

Libreria Colonnese

Those in search of a unique shopping experience while visiting Napoli would do well to head to Libreria Colonnese, which is located on Via S. Pietro a Maiella. As well as a vast selection of antiquarian books, the bookstore offers up the chance to buy vintage postcards which will make the perfect souvenir of your southern Italy trip.

Libreria Colonnese

Toledo metro station

Named for the nearby Via Toledo, the Toledo metro station is so beautiful that it has even won awards! Opened to the public on the 17th April 2012, the metro station is one of the many ‘art stations of Naples’ and is themed around water. Indeed, the dazzling station features blue basics surrounding an escalator that reaches from street level down to the trains themselves.

Piazza Bellini

While there are plenty of public squares in Naples, one of the most beautiful is undoubtedly that of Piazza Bellini. Largely pedestrianised, the square is centred around historic ruins and is studded with several bars and restaurants.

Truth be told, the shining star of the piazza is the central set of historic Greek ruins, which were uncovered between 1954 and 1984. The well-preserved walls are thought to have been the  ruins of the former western walls of the Ancient Greek city of Neapolis.

Piazza Bellini

Secrets of the cathedral of Naples

While one of Naples’ most visited attractions wouldn’t strike you as the first place you would uncover one of the best secret spots in Naples, this is indeed where you can find a tranquil and quiet spot away from the crowds, if only you know where to look.

Upon entering the cathedral, head to the left-hand side of the ecclesiastical building when facing the altar head on. Around halfway down the left-hand aisle, there is a small doorway leading to a little terrace which boasts various stone carvings from centuries gone by.

Secrets of the cathedral of Naples

Visit the Bourbon Tunnel

If you’re looking for a unique activity to partake in together with a local guide, then consider visiting the Bourbon Tunnel. Naples has plenty of underground spaces, including catacombs. But one of the more off the beaten path places is the tunnel built in 1853 by Ferdinand II of Bourbon. Check prices and availability here.

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Sophie Nadeau loves dogs, books, travel, pizza, and history. A fan of all things France related, she runs solosophie.com when she’s not chasing after the next sunset shot or consuming something sweet. She currently lives in Paris. Subscribe to Sophie’s YouTube Channel.

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