I’m sure you have heard of the buried city of Pompeii, but have you ever heard of the underground Naples?

Yeah, me neither. Well, not until I started a research for the visit to this Campania region capital.

Anything mysterious, weird, ridiculous or scary has my attention, so I have booked a guiding tour of the subterranean Napoli not knowing what to expect at all. Only that it will not be stroller suitable (so baby carrier it is) and might get claustrophobic, cold and dark. Whup whup! Not sure how the baby will react, but with a little help of Cocomellon on the cellphone, he made it through the entire tour.

The 40-meter-deep journey between tunnels and cisterns takes around two hours, starts from Piazza San Gaetano, just next to the Basilica di San Paolo Maggiore and ends near the Roman theater.

This labyrinth of tunnels dates back in the third century BC, when the Greeks opened the first underground quarries to obtain the tuff blocks necessary to build the walls and temples of their than Neapolis, now Napoli.

During the Romans began the development of the underground network that included road tunnels and a network of complex aqueducts, filled by underground conduits coming from Serino some 70 km away from the center of Napoli.

Serino Aquaduct was one of the largest and most complex aqueduct systems in the Roman world; it supplied water to at least eight ancient cities in the Bay of Naples including Pompeii and Herculaneum.

In some parts wide enough just to let a man pass through, the tunnels of the aqueduct branched off in all directions, with the scope of filling fountains and houses located in different areas of the city above.

During the 16th century, the old aqueduct and the cisterns that collected the rainwater, were no longer able to satisfy the water needs of the Napoletans, so a wealthy nobleman Cesare Carmignano built a new aqueduct. Easy as that.

Coming more advanced technology age and different water supply solutions, it was only at the beginning of the twentieth century that the network of tunnels was abandoned.

The latest active use of the underground basements was during the Second World War as air-raid shelters to protect people from the bombings of the city.

The cavities were illuminated and arranged to accommodate dozens and dozens of people who, at the sound of the siren, hurried down the stairs.

Remains of furniture, graffiti and various objects in excellent condition still testify today to the great fear of bombing and the several moments of the day lived in the shelters, bringing to the surface an important but at the same time tragic period in the history of the city.

The toilets

Many of the houses on the surface of Napoli were built on the remains of the tunnels and some of these were built next to the what was later discovered an ancient roman theatre.

Looking at the typical Roman brick layering opus reticulatum is how the archaeologists concluded it was a theater.

A fragment of the theater was found in an old carpentry shop, where now scarabattoli exhibition is set.

Scarabattoli are small wooden houses that represent nativity scenes

During the Second World War, the subsoil of Naples accommodated around 40 000 people during the bombings that have left the city of Napoli completely destroyed. While trying to rebuilt their home town, in order to clean the debris of ruined building was thrown into the well, leaving the underground city buried.

It took a handful of volunteers to clear the tunnels for us tourist to walk.

The Underground Naples War Museum collects and preserves documents relating to the Second World War from June 1940 to September 1943.

In the cold and dark basements, just below the Church of San Gregorio Armeno the sisters of the convent were ageing and selling the Tuffelo wine. The wine was surprisingly helping with infertility.

Along the way of this incredible tour, we found about the underground garden.

Protected from the various polluting outdoor factors, including the much needed sun, responsible for chlorophyll photosynthesis, they are set under special lamps, while the humidity of the air and Ph of the ground are constantly monitored.

Situated 35 meters deep under the ground there is a row of plants thriving in the cold and wet atmosphere

All in all this few hours long tour, that took us beneath the busy streets of Napoli, was truly amazing. In parts claustrophobic, as the tunnels were not wide for me to carry M in the carrier, or slippery because of the humidity, cold and inhospitable. But definitely worth the time, money and future recommendation!

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