17 Fun Facts About Naples, Italy

Naples, known as Napoli in Italian, is one of the most iconic cities in Italy and one of the most popular destinations in the entire Mediterranean region. The Naples skyline features the looming Mount Vesuvius which erupted in 79 AD and buried the towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Its history spans back nearly 3,000 years to the ancient Greeks who founded the Naples area during the 8th century BC.

Since then, this southern Italian city has gone through countless transformations and has been under the rule of the Roman Empire, the Barbarians, Spain, and Austria, to name a few. The city is currently home to nearly a million residents with several million more living in the surrounding districts. Naples is divided into several districts or zones that are named after their locations or featured attributes and is the most densely populated city in Italy despite having fewer inhabitants and less tourism than other Italian cities.

If you’re thinking of visiting, here are a few more facts about Naples to provide you with some context for modern day Neapolitan culture:

Naples | History & Culture

1: Naples is the ‘new city’

Napoli comes from the Greek word Neapolis which means “new city” or “new town”. It was originally given this name by its early Greek inhabitants in the 8th century BC.

2: One of the largest cities in Italy

Naples is the third largest city in Italy after Rome and Milan.

3: Naples residents are ‘Neapolitans’

Naples residents are referred to as Neapolitans, or Napoletano in Italian.

4: Naples is home to several unique ocean species 

Naples is situated near the Gulf of Naples, or the Bay of Naples, which is home to several reefs, species of tuna, amberjacks, and tiny spotted sharks.

5: UNESCO World Heritage Site

In 1995, the historic city center of Naples was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

6: 3rd Century Catacombs

The San Gennaro Catacombs in Naples date back to the third century AD and contain ancient graves, crypts, and countless dark and chilling tunnels.

7: The primary church is (very) old

The main church in Naples is the Roman Catholic Naples Cathedral, known in Italian as Duomo di Napoli; it was built in the late 13th century.

8: Birthplace of pizza

The very first pizzeria in Italy and the entire world, Antica Pizzeria Port’Alba, was opened in Naples in 1830. It still remains open today.

9: Creation of the Margherita pizza

The classic Margherita Pizza got its name from Queen Margherita Teresa Giovanni after she visited Naples in the late 19th century. Learn more about and experience the many delights of the cuisine of Naples on our Naples Food Tour.

10: Home to 3 castles

Naples is home to three large castles which are known as Castel Nuovo, Castel dell’Ovo, and Castel Sant’Elmo. All three of these castles date back to at least the thirteenth century.

11: Legend of an egg in Castel dell’Ovo

Castel dell’Ovo is translated roughly to Egg Castle and is linked to a legend involving a magic egg that contained protective powers. This egg is said to have been buried in a secret location within the castle.

12: One of the largest funiculars in the world

The Central Funicular in Naples opened in 1928 and is one of the longest and most used funicular railways in the world.

13: The Academy of Fine Arts dates back to the 1700s

The world-renowned Neapolitan Academy of Fine Arts and museum was founded in 1752 by King Charles VII and houses several works of art from the middle ages.

14: Capital of the Campania region

Naples is the capital of the Campania region which comes from the aptly named Campania Felix, the latin term for “fertile countryside.”

15: One of the largest historic centers in the world

The historic Naples city centre is the largest in Europe and spans an entire 4,200 acres across the city.

16: Only became part of Italy in 1860

Naples only became part of the new Italy in October of 1860 as part of the Italian Unification movement.

17: The Royal Palace of Naples dates back to the 17th century

The Royal Palace of Naples dates back to the seventeenth century and is one of the largest and most visited structures in the city.

For an experience that’s packed with both new and ancient treasures, good food, and stunning landscapes, a visit to Naples doesn’t disappoint. Want to take a deep dive into the archeological treasures of Naples? Consider joining us for a guided tour of the Archaeological Muesum. These fun facts about Naples only scratch the surface of what can be discovered while spending time in this majestic location. As the locals say, you never know what you will stumble upon when exploring the winding city streets.