Okay, so it wasn’t a Saturday, it was Thursday. Festa della Liberazione to be exact.

It wasn’t really a stroll, but more of a hike.

It wasn’t a walk in the park either, but more like a walk to the park.

And we didn’t really go where I thought we were going.

But the day couldn’t have been more perfect.

And another hidden corner of Naples was revealed.

An unusual route between the hills of Naples

…join us for an unusual stroll through nature, just a short walk from the city. Nestled between the Marterdei, Colli Aminei and Capodimonte hills, there is a “hidden place”: the heart of Parco Metropolitano delle Colline di Napoli…

…we will visit a place suspended in time and space. We will cross a green area where the territory is enriched with tufo caves, cultivated terraces, and Mediterranean scrub brush. Ascending along a road carved into the tufo, an ancient drainage path, intoxicated by the fragrance of spring, slowly on foot, along the gentle ridge, progressively bringing into view, glimpses of the city unknown.

Organised by the cultural association SIRECOOP with the participation of SITIREALI, our guide for the day was Carlo Leggieri, founder of the cultural organisation Celanapoli. I met Carlo last summer when he led me through the Hellenistic Necropolis of Neapolis. Extremely knowledgeable and a tireless advocate for the city’s cultural heritage, Carlo’s passion for his city and especially for his quartiere, the Rione Sanità always inspires.

The meeting point was outside of the Marterdei metro station, where I met up with Ann Pizzorusso, our resident geologist and author of EarthScape Naples. Local photographer Giorgio Cossu of Naples Photo Walks and his wife Selina were there too, and we joined about 100 other daring souls for a journey to parts heretofore unknown.

A short walk down a few flights of stairs led us to Piazza Fontanelle. The centre of the Rione Sanità district, one of its spokes leads to the Fontanelle Cemetery. One takes you down through the Rione Sanità and out to Piazza Cavour. And one, Via del Serbatoio allo Scudillo, transports you into a green oases that feels like 1000 miles away from the hustle and bustle of the Sanità.

As I said in In Search of the Green and the Blue, if you’ve never been to Naples, you’d probably think green space is in precious short supply. And while it is true, Naples is no rural paradise, it’s not a concrete jungle either. In fact, in addition to miles of coastline and beaches and over 50 parks and gardens, Naples is home to two natural reserves. One of which, Parco Metropolitano delle Colline di Napoli, is a 5.5 acre (2.215 hectares) natural reserve that straddles the hills of Naples and is comprised of seven distinct zones.

Image courtesy of Parco Metropolitano delle Colline di Napoli

Our destination, was the Scudillo area and we ascended slowly, as advertised, along Via del Serbatoio allo Scudillo.

Through a residential area where apartment balconies led out to terraced gardens of grapes, figs, and olives. Under a series of arches that gave a bit of respite from the hot April sun.

Over ravines covered in Mediterranean scrub brush and peppered in wild flowers and orange trees.

And when we finally reached the top…

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…our efforts were rewarded with some Taralli, a glass of vino, and an amazing view of the city and Vesuvius beyond.

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