Palazzo dello Spagnuolo

sights / Architecture

Lonely Planet review

In baroque-rich Naples, even staircases can be an event and the masterpiece gracing the courtyard of this palazzo is one of its most showstopping. Designed by Ferdinando Sanfelice and dating from 1738, its double-ramped, five-arched flights were put to good use in film classics like Luigi Zampa's Processo alla città (A City Stands Still) and Vittorio de Sica's Giudizio universale (Judgement Day).

Believe it or not, horses once used the stairs, providing door-to-door service for lazy cavaliers.

If Sanfelice's sweeping architectural statement leaves you stair-crazy, a quick walk north will lead you to his debut effort inside the Palazzo Sanfelice . Upon its completion in 1726 the double-ramped diva became the talk of the town, and from then on there was no stopping Sanfelice, who perfected his dramatic staircase design in various palazzi across the city.

While neither of these two buildings is technically open to the public, the porter should let you through if you ask nicely. Porters generally work office hours, so avoid the early afternoon if you want to find someone there.