Spaccanapoli – The Heart of Naples

 Spaccanapoli - Photo by Margie MiklasNoisy, chaotic, vibrant, intense, colorful, edgy, and authentic. Naples oozes reality of life in Italy. Hovering over this city from an almost surreal and tranquil place is the hilltop Castel Sant’ Elmo, a medieval fortress offering spectacular views of Napoli. From this vantage point, I overlook the centro storico, historic center, and clearly recognize Spaccanapoli, the designation attributed to the perfectly straight, three-mile-long street that is the heart of Naples.

Spaccanapoli means “split Naples,” and the street equally divides the old center of Naples in half, separating the north and the south. This bustling pedestrian thoroughfare is the most southern of the three decumani, or east-west streets that have their origins in the grid of ancient Greco-Roman times. By sauntering through the lively and dynamic working-class neighborhood, I experience first-hand the passion, grittiness, and drama of the Neapolitan people. Their lives play out on these hectic streets and in the graffiti-decorated alleys.

Many of the most impressive sights of the city lie along the street and neighborhood that is Spaccanapoli, so tourists throng to this area to appreciate its rich history and culture. Magnificent churches like San Lorenzo Maggiore, Gesù Nuovo, and Santa Chiara, are found here as well as the chapel Cappella Sansevero; Via San Gregorio Armeno, the home of the presepe artisans’ workshops is mixed in with small shops, eateries, and street food. This is the heart of Napoli, and I feel the vibe.

The words here are from a page in Colors of Naples and the Amalfi Coast, my recently published photo book.

Colors of Naples and the Amalfi Coast by Margie MiklasIf you like this post, you may be interested in my book, available either on Amazon.com, or directly through me. I’d be happy to send you an autographed copy for the same price ($24.99) plus shipping ($5.01).  International shipping costs are higher. Contact me at margieeee@comcast.net

Have you experienced Naples? Did you walk down Spaccanapoli? I’d like to hear your stories, so please leave a comment.

Ciao and grazie.

15 Responses

  1. Amazing history and picture!

  2. I love Naples and took a similar shot myself. I must return.

  3. I bought the book and have enjoyed it very much. So have several of my friends who leafed through it while we waited on coffee. And NO, I don’t lend art books. Learned my lesson on that about 50 years ago! It really is nice and you can pick it up on any page and enjoy what you see and read.

  4. Did you ever feel afraid during your visit?

    • No Andrea, not once. I was fortunate enough to have the guidance of Tina from Discover Napoli Destinations. I spent much of my time with her but I also was on my own and never felt afraid to walk in Napoli. She was very helpful in pointing out the few areas one should not venture alone at night.

      • Margie, tell her about the time you got into the unknown car “taxi” and they wanted to renegotiate the ride rate and so on. I nearly had a heart attack when I read that. Margie has a big heart and if a thug approached her she is more likely to buy him some food than to give him her money. That is Margie. I am not so kind when approached by this type of person.

        • Ah, thanks for reminding me. That was in Rome. I have learned a few things since then!

          • You are just too ready to give people a chance while I am too ready to push them away. People like me worry about people like you but we do think very kindly of you. And as an author I once read said, “The sky could fall down and it would miss (Margie’s) head! Thank goodness!

      • I would love to hear where I should avoid, (not that I will be doing much venturing at night being a chicken). The only outing I have arranged is to go to the opera house one evening, I thought I would take the metro to Toledo. Please tell me if this plan sounds reasonable or completely ridiculously unsafe…

        • Yes I think your plan is fine. The area to stay away from especially at night is the Quartiere Spagnoli and also Piazza Garibaldi near the main train station. Also as in NYC and any other large cities, it pays to be attentive as pickpockets will hang out in crowded areas. A fellow blogger just had her iPhone stolen in Naples last week.

    • I was in Naples a month ago and didn’t feel unsafe at all. Not once. Its an incredibly vibrant city and if you keep your wits about you in the same day as you would in any big city, you should be fine.

      We really enjoyed our all too brief stay and want to go back for more pizza and exploring … mmm pizza!

  5. […] is a typical scene in one of the narrow alleys in Spaccanapoli, the heart of historic Naples. In Italy I expect things to look old and not be painted…it […]

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