Stunning Naples from a Birds Eye View

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Twilight begins to set over Naples from the old steps leading up to San Martino

San Martino, a small community high above the sprawling city of Naples, is a refuge from the chaos and confusion of overcrowded metropolitan life. With a reputation of being one of the best neighborhoods in the city, it is also the home of two outstanding historical buildings; Castel Sant’Elmo and the former Carthusian monastery of San Martino which is now a museum. As impressive as these two landmarks are, it is the sweeping view of Naples and the surrounding bay that take my breath away.

Museum of San Martino on the left looking out over Mt. Vesuvius and the Bay of Naples
Museum of San Martino on the left looking out over Mt. Vesuvius and the Bay of Naples

To reach San Martino at the top of the hill, I took a funicular from the crowded shop-strewn area of Montesanto. A funicular is a cable car that is pulleyed up the hillside. The neighborhood was clean and calm by comparison to the bustle below. I found it a refreshing escape. People drove normally and the streets were clear of bumper to bumper cars parked along the curb.

Mt. Vesuvius looms in the distance over Napoli
Mt.Vesuvius, like a camel’s back, looms in the distance over Naples
San Martino, now a museum
San Martino Monastery, now a museum

Once I reached the museum of San Martino on foot, which was a short uphill climb from the funicular, I was greeted by stunning views of the city of Naples below. Land and sea spanned out in every direction with a vast multitude of buildings that housed the crowded metropolis.

The former monastery, finished and consecrated in 1368, is now a museum with outstanding Bourbon and Spanish era artifacts. World-renown nativity scenes, old wooden ships, horse-drawn Cinderella carriages and several rooms of beautiful paintings brought the museum to life. In the center is a courtyard with gardens and an old monks graveyard.

View from San Martino
Veranda at San Martino Museum with commanding views of the Bay of Naples

This huge covered porch is part of the old monastery museum. As I walked around the entire perimeter, views of Naples, the water and surrounding districts sprawled out before me in one vast sweep. Sparkling and beautiful, my camera was fast at work in a futile attempt to capture it all.  But still the photos give a glimpse of its boundless splendor. 20131114-140541.jpg

Creepy Skull Courtyard inside the museum
Creepy Skulls, one on each corner, in the courtyard of the museum

The inner courtyard within the museum was very old but beautifully arched. This large marble square was marked with skulls all the way around.

Castel Sant'Elmo, situated right next to San Martino Museum
Castel Sant’Elmo, situated right next to San Martino Museum

The Castle stands tall and mountainous next to the museum.

Up close and personal-I zoomed in on the waterfront and palace
Up close and personal -I zoomed in on the waterfront and the palace of Naples
Stairs leading down from San Martino to the city
Stairs leading down from San Martino to the city

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On the way back down I took the stairs instead of the funicular. It zig-zagged back and forth, providing many wonderful views of Naples as I descended. Old homes and garden walls framed the stairs tightly.

Strolling through a neighborhood street while descending Vomero hill.
Strolling through a neighborhood street while descending, with Naples ahead.

These houses were so close to the pathway that I could clearly hear conversations coming from them through the open windows. Older women were hanging their wash out to dry, and smells of cooking drifted through the air, making me hungry!

I had worked up an appetite! This sign looked good so I stopped on by.
I had worked up an appetite! This sign looked good so I stopped on by.
I think this will do nicely!
I think this will do nicely!
Bay of Naples
Bay of Naples

I hope to return to San Martino and stand once more at the old fortress walls to gaze out at the vast beauty of Naples with all its charms. Mt. Vesuvius, the sparkling bay, reddish-pink sunsets that streak across the sky….all that encompass the ancient symmetry of an aging land .