Churches and chapels are everywhere in Italy, but Cappella Sansevero is unlike any other. Deep in the crypt are the macchine anatomiche – real human skeletons embellished with arterial and nervous systems made from beeswax, iron wire and silk. In the nave of the chapel, the Veiled Christ, an incredibly realistic marble sculpture of Christ’s tortured body, adds to the eerie atmosphere.
Via Francesco De Sanctis, 19/21, 80134 Napoli, Italy, +39 081 551 8470
Twisting and turning 40 metres beneath Naples is a maze of underground tunnels and caves. The ancient Greeks created vast subterranean quarries here when they extracted tufa limestone in the 3rd century BC, but artifacts dating back 5,000 years have also been discovered. The most famous tour meets at Piazza San Gaetano and takes in a Greek-Roman aqueduct, the remains of a Roman theatre and a candle-lit collection of items from when the caves were used as an air-raid shelter in World War II.
Piazza San Gaetano, 68, Napoli, Italy, +39 081 296944
Piazza Bellini’s proximity to a nearby university makes it a favourite hangout of students as well as the young crowd of Naples. Grab a coffee and admire the ruins of 4th-century Greek city walls by day or hang out in the bustling square with a spritz for a low-key night out.
It’s not often public transport makes it into the guide books, but the ‘art stations’ of Naples’ metro are truly deserving of their place. Designed by the Spanish firm of architect Oscar Tusquets Blanca, the most impressive stop is undoubtedly Toledo. Covered in varying shades of blue mosaics, the light and airy space transports passengers into a dreamlike underwater world.
Another of Naples’ underground attractions, the Bourbon Tunnel takes visitors through an ancient aqueduct turned emergency escape route. Fearful of rebellion, King Ferdinand II ordered construction of a tunnel in case he ever needed to flee Palazzo Reale; however, the collapse of Bourbon dynasty meant his project was never completed. Later, the tunnels were used as a rubbish dump and, in World War II, as an air-raid shelter and makeshift hospital. Today the jumble of decaying classic cars, motorcycles, and children’s abandoned toys make for a moving experience.
Vico del Grottone, 4, 80132 Napoli, Italy, +39 081 764 5808