Lungomare

Street in Santa Lucia & Chiaia

Image by Andrea Cozzolino Five Hundred Pixels

When you need a break from Naples' hyperactive tendencies, take a deep breath on its pedestrianised seafront strip. Stretching 2.5km along Via Partenope and Via Caracciolo, its views are nothing short of exquisite, taking in the bay, Mt Vesuvius, two castles and Vomero's Liberty-style villas. It's particularly romantic at dusk, when Capri and the volcano take on a mellow orange hue.

Separating the Lungomare from Riviera di Chiaia is the Villa Comunale, a long, leafy park designed by Luigi Vanvitelli for private Bourbon frolicking. Its bountiful booty of fountains includes the Fontana delle Paperelle (Duck Fountain), which replaced the famous Toro Farnese after its transfer to the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in 1825.

The park is also home to the Stazione Zoologica, Europe's oldest aquarium. Established by German Darwinist Anton Dohrn, it's housed in a stately neoclassical building designed by Adolf von Hildebrand. These days, the aquarium's tired-looking tanks are home to 200 species of marine flora and fauna from the city's bay. Arguably more impressive is the lovingly restored reading room upstairs, adorned with engaging, 19th-century frescoes of Mediterranean life by German painter Hans von Marées and Hildebrand himself. Library visits must be pre-booked by phone.


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