The populous Italian city of Naples is one of the oldest cities in the world to have had constant inhabitation. So it is somewhat ironic that its name comes from the Greek for “new city”.
The history of Naples covers some 2700 years or so. Greek people settled in the Naples areas during the Bronze Age, with the colony proving vital in allowing Greek influence on Rome culture. Naples then become an important city in the Roman Republic. After the fall of Rome, Naples held its own as the Kingdom of Naples (1282-1816). During this time, it was an important authority during the Renaissance and Enlightenment periods. Still, Naples was a hearty supporter of unification and, after a brief period in which Naples joined forces with Sicily, Italian unification took place in 1861.
During the Second World War, Naples took the brunt of bombs landing on Italian soil. During the fascist period under Bernito Mussolini, much rebuilding took the all-function, no-fuss architectural style of the time. More modern additions to the city of Naples has resulted in a unique mix of architectural styles throughout the city including many Medieval, Baroque, Renaissance, fascist-era and more modern styles.
Today, Naples is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, owing to the many historic sites therein and in the surrounds. The historic centre Naples is expansive, covering some 1,700 hectares – more than any other city in Europe.
Naples city is bordered by the coast that has allowed Naples to function as an important port town that has contributed significantly to the economy of Naples throughout history.
However perhaps the most famous export from Naples is pizza. Whilst flatbreads had been made around the world for centuries prior, in the 1500s in Naples the word ‘pizza’ came into use. At that time, it was a street food made for the poorer of the population. In 1889, pizza’s status was elevated when pizzaiolo Raffaele Esposito made the first “Margherita” pizza, featuring tomatoes, mozzarella and basil to represent the colours of the Italian flag in honour of Queen Margherita of Savoy.
In popular culture, Naples has contributed significantly to the music, film and theatre in Italy and even globally. Many operas also come from Naples, as do the mandolin and romantic guitar.