Its that time of year again when Naples takes time out to celebrate its rich cultural heritage. Every year during the month of May, Naples plans a variety of events, tours, exhibits and more that celebrate a specific cultural, historical or artistic period from Naples’ history.

This year’s theme is ‘Storie e leggende napoletane’ meaning ‘Neapolitan stories and legends’, based on Benedetto Croce’s text of the same name.  The theme especially lends itself to highlight the true meaning of the initiative through an exploration of the historical experience of Naples, the collective imagination of the city and its historical European and Mediterranean roots.

Besides celebrating its 20th year, this edition is also special in that it coincides with the Universal Forum of Neapolitan Culture (Forum Universale delle Culture di Napoli), and is the first major event both organised and funded by the Forum, as such, this Maggio dei Monumenti is expected to be bigger and better than ever, with the help of numerous associations, cultural workers, school children, teachers and prestigious cultural institutions.

…all rallied together to present to the world, once again, the true image of a beautiful city not only creative and intelligent, but justifiably proud of its great past and conscious of being a resource for Italy, for Europe, for the World.

Running from May 1st to June 1st (with events coinciding with the Forum running until June 30th), it is a unique opportunity to discover the many treasures of Naples, some of which are inaccessible during the year, to visit the museums (often at a special price or for free), and explore the city through guided tours led by experts in Neapolitan history.

Here you can find the full program (in Italian), which is divided into the following 8 sections:

1. Neapolitan stories and legends – the institutions
This section has exhibitions, conferences and lectures divided by institution – e.g. The ‘Vittorio Emanuele III’ Library hosts the exhibition ‘Stories and legends: The Naples of Benedetto Croce’.

2. Neapolitan stories and legends – the routes
This section has details of 8 artistic/literary and tourist/cultural themed guided tour routes around the city.  These are for groups of between 25 and 30 people over the five weekends in May on Saturday and Sunday mornings.  Booking is required.  For details, please see the link to the full program, above.

3. School adopts a monument
Every weekend during the month, students from the schools who are taking part in the project ‘School adopts a monument’ provide guided tours of the most important sites of the city.  A number of these tours are available in English, along with French, German and Spanish. – e.g. The Liceo Comenio gives guided tours (in Italian, English, French and Spanish) of the Maschio Angioino (Castel Nuovo). Besides guided tours, the schools will also be providing a number of other cultural activities, such as poetry readings and theatrical performances.

4. Guided visits
This is one of the largest sections, with a huge number of cultural associations etc. involved.  In this section are the details of all the guided visits happening during the month. – e.g. The Carlo Rendano Association is providing a ‘Food and Art Tour’, with the purpose of promoting and disseminating the tourist-gastronomical heritage.  The route, in which at each monument a tasty dish, typical of the neighbourhood has been assigned, is divided into three stages, from San Giovanni a Carbonara to Porta Capuana.

5. Exhibitions
A section dedicated to exhibitions open during this period. – e.g. Andy Warhol at PANEttore Spalletti ‘A day so white, so white’ at MADRE or “Plant, not just the garden…” at Naples Botanical Gardens.

6. Events – theatre, music, bio
By far the biggest section of the lot, with theatrical, musical and biographical events happening at many diverse locations throughout the city.  – e.g. The concert by the Jubilee Choir – Music from the 16th-19th Century at the Museum of the Naples Diocese, or the show by the Naples Cultural Association Society of Dance – Grand Ball at the court: re-enactment in historical costumes of a Grand Ball from the 19th Century Romantic period.

7. Seminars and conventions and sport
A relatively small section with a couple of seminars and conventions and a few sporting events. e.g. – Vans “Off the Wall” skateboarding contest.

8. Outside of Naples
New for this year, Maggio dei Monumenti has spread out of Naples and into Boscoreale and Castellammare di Stabia.  This section has the events happening in these locations. – e.g. ‘The place of the treasure’ – extraordinary opening of the ruins of Villa Pisanella, Boscoreale, or the showing of the film of Pope John Paul II’s visit to Castellammare di Stabia in 1992 at the Sorrentino Stabiaese Diocese Museum (MuDiSS) in Castellammare di Stabia.

With so many wonderful things happening in this great city, why not make the most of the month and discover something new.