The Naples underground has a history that most people don’t know much about. It wasn’t even until recently that Neapolitans themselves drew their attention to it, although it was born and has grown with the city of Naples itself. This simultaneous growth is most obviously demonstrated by the identical symbols and graffiti found on the underground’s quarry walls and on the walls of the city blocks above.
The very first excavations took place 5,000 years ago, and were then proceeded by Greek intervention. The Greeks obtained tufa stone blocks by digging deep into the ground and used it to build the city walls and temples. They also dug caves for use as graves known as hypogea. During the Augustan Age the Romans continued digging, eventually creating a 400 km long aqueduct named Claudio. Because of rapid city growth, by the 17th century the Greek Roman aqueduct had to be extended. In 1629 the Neapolitan nobleman named Carmignano built a new aqueduct in order to finally solve the problem.
In 1884, due to the cholera epidemic, people stopped digging and the aqueduct was definitely closed. The result was the abandonment of two million square meters of tunnels and empty space. The most recent use of the caves was during WWII when Neapolitans used them as air-raid shelters. Because of extensive damage during this time, some parts of the caves are not reachable.
Address: Piazza San Gaetano, 68
Phone: 081 296 944, cell 368 354 0585
Hours: Mon-Fri, 12:00, 14:00, 16:00. Thursday also at 21:00. Sat-Sun & holidays, 10:00, 12:00, 14:00, 16:00, 18:00.
Directions: Turn right our of hostel. Turn right on the first main street that you come to, Via Depretis. Follow Via Depretis, which becomes Corso Umberto. From Corso Umberto turn left on Via Mezzocannone (by the university). Continue up the hill into the historic center until you arrive at Via dei Tribunali. Turn right and follow Tribunali until you reach Piazza San Gaetano. The sign for Napoli Sotterranea is on your left side.
The tours last about 1 hour and a half. It is advisable to wear a sweater even if it is hot outside.
More info: www.napolisotterranea.org