After our visit to the Fontanelle Cemetery, we wandered back to the historic centre of Naples and took a stroll down Via dei Tribunale. In ancient times, this was one of the main streets of Naples. Now, it is one of the main touristy streets with plenty of food and things to look at.
Just off Via dei Tribunale, we found a tour of Naples underground. The history of Naples starts with the Greeks building the city of Neapolis (New City). The Greeks used tufo, the porous volcanic rock in the ground, for the building materials. This city later became a Roman colony and the Romans used the hollowed out tufo quarries as underground aqueducts. These aqueducts were then used as bomb shelters in World War II, some of which we saw on our underground tour. During the war, the Italians sealed off most of the wells to protect from bombs. However, there was one well that didn’t get sealed off, but luckily none of the Allies bombs found their way in. As part of the tour, they had two bomb shells hanging there, showing how easily the bombs could have come through the well. The walls in these shelters also had drawings and graffiti left by those who were sheltering inside.
Then we arrived at a very narrow part where we were given one candle between two people and had to shuffle through a tiny corridor. Anyone with claustrophobia was given the option to sit this part out. The passageway was quite tight – the lady in front of me kept getting stuck. At one point, I had a man with a backpack in front of me whose backpack kept getting stuck and his candle partner took off ahead so he only had the light from my candle behind him! It was worth it though. The underground cisterns that these passageways opened out into were so beautiful.
Our guide took us to another apartment and down a hatch in the floor which led us to the remains of an old Roman theater. This is where it is said that Emperor Nero sung during an earthquake and possibly refused to allow anyone to leave and possibly thanked the gods for their applause afterwards. It makes a good story either way.
After having dinner back on Via dei Tribunale, we headed back to our apartment and chatted with our lovely host family whilst enjoying the view of Naples from their balcony.