An Art Lover's Guide to Naples in 24 Hours

With ancient sculptures, masterpieces and street art, Naples has so much to offer
With ancient sculptures, masterpieces and street art, Naples has so much to offer | © Adam Eastland / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Emma Law
Hub Writer21 October 2021
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From ancient sculptures excavated from the ruins of nearby Pompei to the eclectic array of street art that has transformed a number of the city’s historic palazzi, the art scene in Naples is as diverse as it is prized. Take a whirlwind 24-hour trip and discover the must-see museums and thought-provoking galleries that make Naples one of Italy’s most captivating art cities.

Tempted by a trip to Naples? Experience it with a small group of culturally curious travellers and a Local Insider on Culture Trip’s specially curated 10-day Southern Italy trip, which includes a guided street food tour of Naples, as well as visits to the Amalfi Coast, Matera and several wonderful destinations in Puglia.

Must-Visit Museums in Naples

Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli

Museum
Naples. Italy. Visitor to Naples National Archaeological Museum looking at the Farnese Bull
© Adam Eastland / Alamy Stock Photo
Naples’ National Archaeological Museum takes you on a journey back in time with its vast collection of ancient Roman and Greek artefacts – many of which were discovered in nearby Pompei and Herculaneum. If you’re on a tight schedule, make a beeline for the museum’s most celebrated exhibits, starting with the Toro Farneseon the ground floor. Part of the prestigious Farnese Collection, this striking marble sculpture depicts the humiliating death of Dirce, Queen of Thebes.

Insider Tip: Some parts of the museum have been known to close without warning – this especially applies to the famed Gabinetto Segreto,a secret chamber that houses erotic art unearthed in Pompeii and Herculaneum. Avoid disappointment by calling ahead on the day. It’s open every day except Tuesdays from 9am-7.30pm.

Museo di Capodimonte

Museum
Italy, Campania, Naples, Capodimonte Park, Museo Capodimonte
© Hemis / Alamy Stock Photo
Commissioned in 1738 to house the Farnese Collection, the Palace of Capodimonte was once the summer residence of Charles VII of Bourbon. The lavish Royal Apartment rooms provide a glimpse into how the other half lived, but the main attraction these days is the exhaustive art collection that has grown into one of Italy’s largest. Works by some of the biggest names in classical and contemporary art hang from the walls and the likes of Botticelli, Titian, Caravaggio, Gentileschi and Raphael are joined by contemporary greats such as Alberto Burri and William Kentridge.

Insider Tip: Leave time to see Andy Warhol’s Technicolor depiction of Naples’ ever-present protagonist, the brooding Mount Vesuvius – located on the third floor. The museum is open every day except Wednesdays from 8.30am-7.30pm.

Museo Madre

Museum
Museo MADRE
© Livia Hengel
The 19th-century Palazzo Donnaregina was converted into a contemporary art museum in 2005 by Portuguese ‘starchitect’ Alvaro Siza. Situated in the heart of old Naples, Museo Madre offers a refreshing contrast to the Renaissance, baroque and classical art the city is renowned for. The permanent collection includes specially commissioned installations from the likes of Anish Kapoor and Napoli-born Francesco Clemente, as well as works by Jeff Koons, Andy Warhol and Sol LeWitt. Temporary exhibitions are held on the third floor.

Insider Tip: Check the Facebook page for details of upcoming events such as free guided tours, DJ sets and readings. The museum is open on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 10am-7.30pm, and from 10am-8pm on Sundays.

Must-Visit Cafés in Naples

Spazio Nea

Bar, Italian

A brisk 10-minute walk from the Museo Archeologico Nazionale is Piazza Bellini, a favourite hangout of Naples’ bohemian crowd. Look out for Spazio Nea – part art gallery, part café – just before you reach the piazza. A sweeping baroque staircase flanks the charming courtyard, making it the perfect spot for a light bite before heading inside to discover works by emerging artists. In the evenings, Spazio Nea takes on a cocktail bar vibe and hosts regular DJ sets and live music.

Intra Moenia

Cafe, Italian
People enjoying life underneath sunshades of a cafe at Piazza Bellini in Napoli, Italy, right next to some excavations from the ancient Roman Empire
© Around The World Photography / Alamy Stock Photo

Latin for ‘inside the walls’, Intra Moenia’s name is a nod to the 4th-century Greek city walls found just outside its doors in Piazza Bellini. Since 1989, this literary café has hosted art exhibitions, book readings and live music sessions with a focus on cultural, social and political subjects. From the artwork on the walls to the rows of books on display, there’s plenty to investigate in this lively spot.

Must-Visit Galleries in Naples

Galleria Alfonso Artiaco

Art Gallery
In 2016, the Galleria Alfonso Artiaco celebrated its 30-year anniversary as one of the region’s top contemporary art spaces. Though the original premises were in Pozzuoli – just outside Naples – the gallery has been showcasing work by Italian and international artists since 1986. It moved to Naples in 2003 and settled in its current location – the historic Palazzo de Sangro di Vietri in Piazzetta Nilo – in 2012. Past exhibitors include Sol Lewitt, Liam Gillick and controversial duo, Gilbert and George.

Galleria Andrea Ingenito

Art Gallery
Andrea Ingenito Contemporary Art
Courtesy of Andrea Ingenito Contemporary Art Gallery

The Andrea Ingenito Contemporary Art gallery (AICA) was established in Naples in 2008 with a focus on contemporary art, particularly from the 1960s and 1970s. As such, their lineup includes pieces by international pop artists such as Robert Rauschenberg, Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol. Joining them are works by top Italian artists such as Alighiero Boetti, Mimmo Paladino and Mario Schifano.

Take a Street-Art Tour in Naples

Art in Napoli isn’t just found behind the doors of museums and galleries – the whole city is a canvas with murals, stencil-work and graffiti art. Dive into this often-overlooked side of the city with a street-art tour by Napoli Paint Stories. Led by art historians and local experts, the tours take in the best works by local and international artists such as Cyop&Kaf, Banksy, Blu and Alice Pasquini.

Must-Visit Restaurants in Naples

Salumeria

Restaurant, Italian

The latest project of Upnea, a social collective aiming to promote and develop art – and in particular photography – in Naples, Salumeria is a meeting point for food and art. The menu focuses on top-quality local produce – often from small producers – and ranges from simple soups and charcuterie boards to hearty burgers and creatively filled sandwiches. Check the website for details of upcoming contemporary on-site exhibitions, which are often Neapolitan-themed.

La Stanza del Gusto

Restaurant, Italian, $$$

With a mish-mash of furniture and knick-knacks in every corner, this eclectic osteria is an ideal location to end a day of admiring art in Naples. Established by chef Mario Avallone, the restaurant uses premium ingredients from local artisanal producers – making the cured meat and cheese platters an obvious choice to start. Follow with one of the richly flavoursome main dishes, such as bucatini pasta with a tomato, anchovy and lemon sauce.

These recommendations were updated on October 21, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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