For the past year, I’ve been watching a show called Cities of the Underworld. You can imagine my surprise when they showed one of the cities with which I’m familiar. Granted, this city isn’t in Naples, but they actually showed a few places in Italy, nevertheless.
We have a lot of history buried in Italy, some dating back as far as 50,000 years ago: the San Felice Circeo, grotta San Bernardino and grotta di Fumane are just a few. However, in my opinion, nothing can match my old stomping ground of Naples.
Napoli Sotterranea is one of the most fascinating places in Naples, and it just so happens to be underground. Beneath beautiful Naples lies a city. Tunnel networks, spacious cavities and cisterns create this ancient habitat – a spectacular labyrinth of old Napoli, Italia history several miles below Naples. It spreads below the old town, lending credibility to myriads of myths and legends passed down from Neopolitan to Neopolitan.
World War II threatened the “Parallel City”, as many people call it, with massive aerial bombardments. The destruction caused enough concern that a citizen’s committee recommended a complete restoration in 1956. However, construction struck the underground city, worsening the conditions below Naples; 1967 marked the involvement of the local press to such a point that a “Bureau of the Underground” was appointed.
After 20 years of digging and reclaiming, mostly done by volunteers interested in maintaining the historic underground city’s fragile architecture, many parts of Napoli Sotterranea have been restored. A complete census of the tunnels and aqueducts found a total of 150 cavities – over 260,000 square meters of hollow space dedicated to thousands of years of Naples history.
The hidden world of Napoli Sotterranea is a fascinating mixture of archeology and cave exploration. Ancient Roman aqueducts, Greco-Roman excavation sites and Paleochristian chambers blend to create a place out of time full of architecture, art and spiritual heritage.
Visit Naples Underground
- The Bourbon Tunnel
- Napoli Sotterranea at Piazza San Gaetano
- Napoli Sotterranea L.A.E.S at Piazza Trieste e Trento
- Other Subterranean Sites in Naples