With a passionate heart for history and a little knowledge of the Italian language, this is how easy it can be to find underground gems of the city. I write here of my personal experience:

Santa Maria Maggiore Della Pietrasanta Church was named after a holy stone (pietrasanta) and built by Cosimo Fanzago over the ruins of an early Christian basilica. When I entered this church, I spotted a young spelunker going inside and asked if I could speak with the custodian about the history of the Church. Instead, she briskly told me to follow and suddenly I was walking down steep steps into the underground belly of the edifice.

There, stones lay scattered everywhere and researchers bustled through an airy space. Excited, I forgot about the Church history entirely and asked about the history of this space. An enthusiastic researcher introduced himself as Raffaele Iovine and immediately gave me a tour.

He explained that the church is the most ancient in Naples, commissioned in 566 A.D. by Bishop Pomponio. It was constructed over a Roman villa, which in turn was constructed over the Greek foundations of Neapolis. Raffaele took me over to an enclosed area where he showed me the slanted Roman bricks and the Greek walls underneath. Most amazing of all, this space had a massive Greco-Roman aqueduct dating back to 500 B.C. The aqueduct was three kilometers long and began with an four hundred meter deep water tank (cistern) that could be accessed by spelunking down into it.

This underground area has never been officially open to the public. Raffaele, however, did say that anyone interested in Naples’ Parallel City can go to La Macchina Del Tempo for current information as well as upcoming events and lectures regarding the underground world.

Getting There: Santa Maria Maggiore Della Pietrasanta is on Via Tribunali next to Piazza Miraglia.