10 great times to visit Naples in 2015
There's more to Naples than the views of Mount Vesuvius and its proximity to Pompeii and Herculaneum. Whether you arrive in this ancient city by land or sea, know that it hosts an incredible roster of year-round festivals. Events range from colourful celebrations of the city's artistic and cultural heritage to the fun and delicious Pizzafest. If you choose to explore Naples on the City Sightseeing open-top bus tour then keep an eye out for these 10 exciting occasions:
Maggio dei Monumenti (last weekend in Apr, and every weekend in May)
With a history spanning more than two millennia it's no surprise that Naples contains a treasure trove of priceless artistic relics and stunning architectural wonders. 'May of the Monuments' is a celebration of this vibrant heritage wherein landmarks which normally remain closed and collections that sit under lock and key are opened to the public throughout late April and May. Many institutions greet the occasion with special tours and exhibitions, and certain historic venues even put on a programme of concerts and performances. We'd highly recommend a trip to Naples at this time of year if you're going to be travelling on a limited budget.
Festa di San Gennaro (1st Sat in May, Sept 19 and Dec 19)
This is arguably one of Naples' most iconic events. Three times a year the clergy of Naples Cathedral take two vials of the blood of Saint Gennaro out of safe storage and display them to the public. During this tri-annual ritual the powdered blood in the containers appears to liquefy by unclear means. Some say that it's a miracle, others cite a simple chemical reaction instigated through physical handling and light exposure. If your trip to Naples coincides with any one of the showcases then why not head along to the Cathedral and decide for yourself. Hop-off at stop 10 on the City Sightseeing Naples open-top bus tour for a quick and easy arrival.
Napoli Film Festival (Dates TBC)
The city's annual celebration of big screen gems tends to take place during the summer months and has previously attracted famous names such as Milos Forman, Sigourney Weaver and Harvey Keitel. Recurring venues include the Palazzo Arti Napoli, Cinema Vittoria and the Istituto Francese di Napoli.
Napoli Teatro Festival Italia (Jun-Jul)
From the famous Teatro San Carlo to museums, castles, breweries and archaeological sites, Naples pulls back the curtains on a summer theatre extravaganza. Native and international performers will be converging in venues all across the city to wow and entertain local and visitor alike.
Open Estate a Napoli (Jun-Sept)
Another great time to visit Naples if you're trying to save a bit of cash. The summer season sees hundreds of free events spring up all across the city. Enjoy a bit of open-air cinema, see a play or hear a new band.
Brividi d'Estate (Jul)
During the height of summer take an evening stroll up Via Foria towards the Naples Botanical Garden (Orto botanico di Napoli). Amidst the lush flora and winding pathways you're likely to encounter an open-air musical theatre performance.
Festa di Piedigrotta (Sept)
This spectacle of song and dance takes place in the Piedigrotta district on the night of September 7th. Though its earliest origins can be traced back to an ancient pagan festival the modern event acts as a celebration of both traditional Neapolitan music and the city's modern cultural diversity. Other features include concerts by contemporary artists and a huge parade of floats whose various inspirations are derived from Neapolitan folklore.
As the proud birthplace of one of the world's most recognisable foodstuffs Naples has an entire citywide event dedicated to the cooking and consumption of pizza. Chefs from all across the world converge to demonstrate their skills and show off their favourite recipes. Take the opportunity to attend an exciting workshop or try an exotic new variety. See the video below for a little 'taster'.
Natale a Napoli (Nov-Dec)
Christmas sees Naples' beautiful churches roll out a wonderful assortment of nativity scenes. As you explore each spectacle you'll inevitably find yourself wandering through streets packed with busy stalls and glowing decorations. Be sure to check out the old alleyways surrounding the Church of San Gregorio Armeno, this bustling location is forever popular with visitors as well as locals looking to browse the festive displays.
Just outside Naples:
Giffoni Film Festival (Jul 17-26)
Giffoni is unique in that it is one of the world's most prominent international film festivals targeted specifically at children and young people. Whether it's to entertain youngsters as young as 3 years old or represent contemporary teenage culture, the programme incorporates elements that suit a complex range of age categories. Not only are Giffoni's film screenings relevant to the youth of today, but they're even judged by a panel of 6-18 year old's who assess, discuss and vote for the movies in their respective sections.
Past hosts of the festival have included big names in Hollywood such as: Robert De Niro, Naomi Watts, Oliver Stone, Ben Kingsley and more. Certainly if you're an indy film programmer, or maybe even just a parent/child couple with a passion for cinema, a trip to the picturesque provincial town of Giffoni Valle Piana is a great idea in 2015. Remember that French director François Truffaut once declared it 'the most necessary of all festivals'.