The best way to soak up the street-theatre atmosphere of Neapolitan life is to start by walking down Spaccanapoli (literally ‘split Naples’), the popular name for the long straight street that cuts through the heart of the centro storico.
Via Francesco de Sanctis 17-21, Naples (00 39 081 551 8470;www.museosansevero.it). The Neapolitan taste for theatrical decoration is taken to wall-to-wall extremes in this private chapel, commissioned by eccentric prince Raimondo di Sangro in the 18th century. Open Wed-Fri, 10am-5.40pm, Sat-Sun, 10am-1.10pm.
MUSEO ARCHEOLOGICO NAZIONALE DI NAPOLI
Piazza Museo 19, Naples (00 39 081 442 2149). Offers a monumental array of antique art, mixing the Farnese classical sculpture collection with finds from Pompeii, Herculaneum and Stabiae. Don’t miss the Gabinetto Segreto, a one-room display of ancient porn. Open Wed-Mon 9am-7.30pm.
MUSEO NAZIONALE DI CAPODIMONTE
Via Miano 1, Naples (00 39 081 749 9111; www.museo-capodimonte.it). Another Farnese art-fest, this time of paintings and decorative art, Capodimonte is worth a visit not only for its exquisite Titians and Caravaggios, but also for the setting: a sumptuous villa in a leafy park, high above the chaotic centro storico. Open Thurs-Tues, 8.30am to 7.30pm.
SAN DOMENICO MAGGIORE
Piazza San Domenico Maggiore, Naples (00 39 081 459 298). If you visit only one church in Naples, make it this dark, Gothic palimpsest, parts of which date from the 14th century. Seek out the austerely beautiful frescoes by Pietro Cavallini, a contemporary of Giotto, and the sacristy with its array of Aragon coffins. Open Mon-Sat, 8.30am-noon and 4pm-7pm, Sun, 9am-1pm and 4.30-7pm.
OUTSIDE THE CITY
(00 39 081 857 5347; www.pompeiisites.org). Less than an hour by train from downtown (take Circumvesuviana Naples-Sorrento train line and alight at Pompeii Scavi.), Pompeii is the one entirely umissable archaeological site in Italy. Go out of season and wander away from the main streets and villas to plug into the intimate, domestic side of life in this provincial Roman town, which came to an abrupt end one day in AD79. Open daily April-Oct, 8.30am-7.30pm (last admission 6pm), Nov-March, 8.30am-5pm (last admission 3.30pm).