Galleria Umberto I is a spacious and elegant public shopping gallery right across from the San Carlo Theatre. It was constructed between 1887-1891 and named after the King of Italy at that time, Umberto I. It was built with the intention of combining public space- businesses, shops and cafes, with private space- apartments on the above floors.
The construction was the foundation of a decades-long project, leading up to World War I, to rebuild Naples. The project was appropriately termed the risanamento, literally meaning “make healthy again”. The architectural design is that of Emanuele Rocco, who used modern architectural elements similar of those used for the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan.
The Gallery has an open and spacious inside with high glass dome ceilings. There are four glass-vaulted wings, two of which open to the street. One on the side of Via Toledo, and the other onto the San Carlo Theater. It is interesting to note that Galleria Umberto was the setting for John Horne Burns’ The Gallery (1947). It was based on this American writers’ experience as a soldier in post-war Naples.
Directions: Turn right out of hostel, then left on Via Depretis. Walk towards the castle and pass it by about 100 meters. Entrance to Galleria Umberto is on the right side of the street, facing the Teatro San Carlo.