New York has Central Park, London has Hyde Park, and though much smaller than its contemporaries, Naples has Villa Comunale. Set between Rivieria di Chiaia and Via Caracciolo, Naples Villa Comunale Park has long been a favorite of the locals. Stretching for over 1km between Piazza Vittoria on the east and Piazza della Repubblica on the west, Villa Comunale’s tree lined walking paths, playgrounds and outdoor roller rink make it a popular outdoor destination.
The park is home to the Naples Tennis Club, the oldest Aquarium in Europe, Naples Aquarium at the Anton Dohrn Zoological Station, the Naples Antiques Market, and on any given summer evening you are liable to find an open air concert at the historic Cassa Armonica. Neoclassical sculptures and fountains and 18th/19th century monuments and busts stand guard over the park that was once a seafront Royal Promenade known as Villa Reale. The city turned the park over to the people in 1869 renaming it Villa Comunale, but shortly after they built Via Caracciolo. Since then, 5 lanes of traffic have stood between the park and Naples seafront promenade, Lungomare.
That is until America’s Cup came to Naples in April 2012. The temporary pedestrianization of Via Caracciolo and Via Partenope for the event proved so successful that in May 2012 as part of the Lungomare Liberato initiative, the city permanently closed this stretch of Lungomore to traffic. More popular than ever, the line between Villa Comunale and the sea is once again beginning to blur and the entire area has become a green (and blue) oasis in the center of the city.