Okay, so you’ve checked out the list of what to do in Naples, and you’re thinking that even though you’ll probably hit most of the big items on that list you’d also like to throw in some oddball stuff as well. You know, the stuff that will make your friends back home raise an eyebrow when you’re telling vacation stories. Well, this list of weird things to see in Naples should satisfy you, then.
>> Believe it or not, a few of the sights on this list of weird attractions in Naples are also on my list of must-see attractions in Naples!
Weird & Wonderful Naples
- Ospedale delle Bambole, or Doll’s Hospital – This tiny shop smells like your grandmother’s attic and is crammed floor to ceiling with antique dolls and doll parts (which is alternately cool and creepy). The family is now on its 4th generation of doll repair.
- “Bodyworlds” Basement of Capella di Sansevero – While the sculpted Veiled Christ in the main chapel is exquisite in the most beautiful way, the two glass-encased bodies a few feet away down a short staircase are more than a little weird.
- “Secret Cabinet” at the National Archaeological Museum – The museum’s so-called “secret cabinet” is so well-known that it’s hardly a secret anymore, but it definitely adds interest to your museum tour. It’s where they keep all the ancient Roman erotica (or at least the stuff we consider erotica), behind a padlocked metal gate.
- Does your church have Roman ruins in the basement? – While it may not be unusual in Italy for Roman ruins to be underneath (or sometimes built into) the foundations of every other building, the church of San Lorenzo Maggiore has a half-excavated Roman market in its basement which you can walk through. You can even walk into the various old storefronts. Incredibly cool.
- Statue of a Lactacting Male (Kind Of) – A quick look at the statue of a reclining bearded man in the Piazzetta Nilo wouldn’t raise an eyebrow, but if you look again you’ll notice there’s a baby who appears to be suckling at said bearded man’s chest. Word is that the Greek statue was unearthed in the 12th century but was missing a head. A 17th century restorer thought that putting a bearded male head on the headless statue would be nice, to represent the River Nile, completely ignoring the fact that the body was that of a woman meant to represent the city of Naples nourishing her children.
- The Legend of the Magical Egg – You might think the Castel dell’Ovo, or Egg Castle, would be shaped like an egg to get such a name. It’s not. Instead, the name comes from a legend that the poet Virgil (renowned as a bit of a magician) put a magic egg into the castle’s foundation to give it strength.
- The Obelisks of Naples – Other cities have plundered obelisks from Egypt to erect in their main squares, thereby showing their power. In Naples, they went a different route. Throughout the old center you’ll find ornately-decorated Baroque obelisks commissioned by local families, the government at the time, or various churches to – yes – show their power.
- How many pizza places in Naples have pictures of Bill Clinton eating there? – I counted two, but given our former President’s penchant for eating it’s quite likely there are more. How many can you find?
- Year-Round Christmas Alley – No matter what time of year you visit Naples, you can pick up a figurine for your nativity scene or a bauble for your Christmas tree on Via San Gregorio Armeno. Why? Naples has long been home to a collection of craftspeople making terra cotta figures for the traditional nativities which are so popular in Italy at Christmastime. (And if that’s not enough for you, the Museo Nazionale di San Martino in Naples has nativities dating back to the 18th century.)
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all photos by Jessica Spiegel & may not be used without permission