Naples: Chiaia District Walking Tour (Self Guided), Naples

Chiaia is deservedly considered to be the most exquisite part of Naples. Refined and exclusive, it hosts world-known brand name stores and is the place where one can always meet a famous personality. Home to once-in-a-lifetime pizzas and amazing seafood restaurants, it also offers gorgeous views of the Bay of Naples and its marina. The famous volcano Vesuvius can be seen from Chiaia too. Villa Pignatelli and Castello Aselmeyer are arguably the neighbourhood’s main attractions, however as you wander its streets you’ll see that there is much more to it. This self-guided tour will lead you through the most popular places in Chiaia.
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Naples: Chiaia District Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Naples: Chiaia District Walking Tour
Guide Location: Italy » Naples (See other walking tours in Naples)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 6
Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.8 Km or 1.7 Miles
Author: vickyc
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Villa Comunale
  • Villa Pignatelli
  • Castelo Aselmeyer
  • PAN Gallery
  • San Martino Monastery
  • Castel Sant'Elmo
1
Villa Comunale

1) Villa Comunale

The Villa Comunale is a park running along the shoreline of Naples. It was once a royal promenade and commands spectacular views of the bay.

The Villa Comunale was initially a paved promenade commissioned in 1697 by the Spanish viceroy, the Duke of Medinaceli. He also commissioned the thirteen fountains and rows of willow trees along the path. The park was later laid on reclaimed land in the 1780s under the orders of the Bourbon king, Ferdinand IV. Until the unification of Italy in 1871, members of the public were allowed only on September 9th during the Festival of Piedigrotta. Today it is a popular green space within the city and still attracts crowds during the festival which includes a song writing competition.

The Villa Comunale or People’s Park has well manicured lawns and tree lined paths today. It is studded with fountains, neoclassical sculptures and busts commemorating heroes who were born in Naples in the late 19th and early 20th century. The Anton Dohrn Aquarium and Zoological station, a well known scientific research center and the Naples Tennis Club are located here. A popular antique market called the Fiera Antiquaria Napoletana, is held in the Villa Comunale on weekends all through the year.
2
Villa Pignatelli

2) Villa Pignatelli

Located on the seafront, north of the Villa Comunale is this beautiful Greco Roman style residence that houses the Museo Principe di Aragona Pignatelli Cortes. It is popularly called the Villa Pignatelli.

The Villa Pignatelli was commissioned by Ferdinand Acton, the son of the then Prime Minister of Naples, Sir John Acton and designed by architect, Pietro Valente. It was completed in the year 1856 and was the most striking building in the area. Karl Meyer von Rothschild of the famous German family of bankers and financiers purchased and enlarged the building in 1841. It was sold to the Duke of Monteleone, Diego Aragona Pignatelli Cortes in 1867 and after his death, his widow bequeathed the building to the State in 1952.

The Villa Pignatelli, from the date of construction has remained the architectural centerpiece of the Villa Comunale. The Doric columns in the façade can be seen by viewers from 50 yards away. Today, it is a venue for exhibitions and temporary shows and houses a small museum. The ground floor consists of a magnificent ballroom, a library, a large dining room and a series of rooms where museum objects are displayed. The green room houses the display of porcelain objects from the 17th to the 19th centuries and other rooms exhibit valuable sculpture and landscapes. The treasure at the museum is the painting of St. George by Francesco Guarino. The grounds of the Villa Pignatelli host a small coach museum with 18th and 19th century French and German vehicles on display.
3
Castelo Aselmeyer

3) Castelo Aselmeyer

Castelo Aselmeyer is a beautiful castle, the work of Lamont Young. He was a prominent architect of Naples and made many buildings and roads in the city. Castelo Aselmeyer is a Neo-Gothic building. Like the other works of this architect, the castle too boasts of an original design and a magnetic, hypnotizing beauty.
4
PAN Gallery

4) PAN Gallery

PAN is an ultra new art gallery that displays the most innovative collections. There are all kinds of art works: paintings, photography, sculpture, multimedia, design and architecture. It is set in a beautiful, 16th century palace. There is also an experimental art lab and a multimedia library. The artists of Naples and from abroad display their works in temporary exhibitions here.
Hours: Mon & Wed - Sat 0930 - 1930, Sun 0930 - 1430
5
San Martino Monastery

5) San Martino Monastery (must see)

The San Martino Monastery is a complex that was once managed by monks of the Carthusian Order and dedicated to St. Martin of Tours. Today, it houses a museum with diverse religious and historical art exhibits.

The Certosa di San Martino or St Martin’s Charterhouse was commissioned by Charles of Anjou in 1325 and completed in 1368 during the reign of Queen Joan I of Naples. It was built on top of the Vomero Hill and commanded spectacular views of the bay. It was expanded in the 16th century and the present structure is the result of a 17th century expansion, designed by renowned architect, Cosimo Fanzago, in ornate Neapolitan Baroque style. The monastery was closed in the early 19th century during the reign of Napoleon’s brother in law, Joachim Murat. In 1866, it was converted into a museum dedicated to the artistic history and culture of Naples by Giuseppe Fiorelli.

The San Martino Museum consists of exhibits displayed in the former cells of the Carthusian monks. Objects exhibited include a range of paintings and artifacts from the 13th to the 19th centuries, 16th and 17th century frescoes and a separate section displaying Neapolitan folk art. The treasures at the museum are the famous collection of Neapolitan nativity scenes, including the celebrated Cuciniello’s Crib, depicting 28 angels, 162 people, 80 animals and over 450 miniature artifacts, that is regarded as the finest in the world.

Hours: Thursdays - Tuesdays, 8:30 am until 7:30 pm
6
Castel Sant'Elmo

6) Castel Sant'Elmo (must see)

The Castel Sant’Elmo is a unique star shaped structure that was built to protect Naples from attacks from the sea. It has served many purposes through history and is one of the important landmarks of the city.

The first historical record of a fort on the site of Castel Sant’Elmo is that of a small structure built by the Normans in 1170. Later, relatives of Charles of Anjou built a large residence called Belforte on the site of the old fort in 1275. The Aragonese viceroy, Don Pedro de Toledo commissioned renowned military architect, Pedro Luis Escriva to enlarge the structure and the fort owes its unique shape to his design. It was enlarged between the years 1537 and 1547. From 1604 until 1956, it was used as a prison.

The Castel Sant’Elmo is a popular tourist attraction in Naples today. It hosts exhibitions, concerts and conferences from time to time. Two early churches within the fort are the Church of Sant’Elmo that dates back to the 16th century and the Chapel of Santa Maria del Pilar that dates back to the 17th century. A funicular takes visitors up the San Martino Hill to reach the Castel Sant’Elmo and the prison cells within the fort offer spectacular views over the city and bay of Naples.

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