Home : Home : RMC : FDRMC : Italy Tours : Living in Italy : After Work – Off Base : Arts-Festivals-Sports
Arts, Festivals & Sports

THEATER AND OPERA

Italy has a wealth of beautiful, historic opera houses, many still serving as theaters. Opera fans should try to visit at least one opera house and enjoy a live performance in Italy. The opera season is generally October through March or April, but outdoor performances are held in the summer. Opera houses hold theater and dance performances at other times of the year, too, and some can be toured without going to a performance. Naples has some excellent theaters and performance troupes where you can enjoy this Italian cultural experience.

Teatro Bellini
The Teatro Bellini (Bellini Theater) is a private theater and opera stage located at the center of Naples on the Via Vincenzo Bellini at the corner of Via Conte di Ruo, across the street from the Academy of Fine Arts of Naples. For nearly a century, the theater presented operas and operettas, but by the 1960s it had become dilapidated, used only as a cheap movie theater, and it was considered for demolition. In 1962, the Bellini hosted its final operatic spectacle with Masaniello before being acquired in 1986 by a group led by a local artist and producer, Tato Russo. They restored the house for operatic and theatrical productions which are now frequently presented. For more information, visit: Teatro Bellini (website in Italian)

Teatro di San Carlo
The Teatro di San Carlo (San Carlo Theater) in Naples is the oldest opera house in Italy, founded in 1737. Some of the first ballet productions were also performed here during the opera intermissions. Opera, ballet, and short comic opera are still performed, and a museum is in the planning stage. For more information, visit: Teatro di San Carlo (website in Italian)

For additional information on music and theater in Italy, visit these websites:

Opera Houses:
Trip Savvy Top Opera Houses
Just Landed Italy – Culture Opera Theater

Classical Music:
Turchini
Associazione Scarlatti

Live Music:
New Around Midnight
Goodfella’s Club

EXPLORING NAPLES

Italy’s third-largest city is one of its oldest, most artistic, and most appetizing. Naples’ centro storico (historic center) is a Unesco World Heritage Site. Its archaeological treasures are among the world’s most important and its swag of ornate palaces, castles, and churches make Rome look positively provincial.

Then there’s the food. Blessed with rich volcanic soils, a bountiful sea, and centuries of culinary know-how, the Naples region is one of Italy’s epicurean heavyweights, serving up the country’s best pizza, pasta, and coffee, and many of its most celebrated seafood dishes, street snacks, and sweet treats.

Certainly, Naples’ urban sprawl can feel anarchic, tattered, and unloved. But look beyond the grime, graffiti, and occasional gruffness and you’ll uncover a city of breathtaking frescoes, sculptures, and panoramas, of unexpected elegance, of spontaneous conversations, and profound humanity. Welcome to Italy’s most unlikely masterpiece.

For more information, visit:
Lonely Planet – Campania Naples

Museo Archeologico Nazionale
The National Archaeological Museum of Naples (sometimes abbreviated to MANN) is an important Italian archaeological museum, particularly for ancient Roman remains. Its collection includes works from Greek, Roman, and Renaissance time—especially Roman artifacts from nearby Pompeii, Stabiae, and Herculaneum. Formerly the Real Museo Borbonico (“royal Bourbon museum”) tickets are 12 Euros and they are open from Monday to Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. (closed on Tuesday and some holidays).

For more information, visit:
Museo Archeologico Nazional Website

Centro Storico (Historic Center) of Naples
Listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, the historic center of Naples is the largest in Europe, covering 4,200 acres and 27 centuries of history. Though it’s difficult to narrow it down to a few, highlights include the Duomo, Complesso Monumentale di Santa Chiara, and Cappella Sansevero.

Whether you go for Giovanni Lanfranco’s fresco in the Cappella di San Gennaro (Chapel of St Janarius), the 4th-century mosaics in the baptistry, or the thrice-annual miracle of San Gennaro, Naples’ cathedral (Duomo) consecrated in 1315 is a must see site.

The religious complex of Santa Chiara includes the Church of Santa Chiara, a monastery, tombs, and an archeological museum. Vast, Gothic, and cleverly deceptive, the mighty Basilica di Santa Chiara stands at the heart of this tranquil monastery complex. The church was severely damaged in WWII: what you see today is a 20th-century recreation of Gagliardo Primario’s 14th-century original. Adjoining it are the basilica’s cloisters, adorned with brightly colored 17th-century majolica tiles and frescoes.

In the Masonic-inspired baroque chapel of Cappella Sansevero in Centro Storico, you’ll find Giuseppe Sanmartino’s incredible sculpture, Cristo velato (Veiled Christ), its marble veil so realistic that it’s tempting to try to lift it and view Christ underneath. It’s one of several artistic wonders that include Francesco Queirolo’s sculpture Disinganno (Disillusion), Antonio Corradini’s Pudicizia (Modesty), and riotously colorful frescoes by Francesco Maria Russo—the latter untouched since their creation in 1749.

For more information, visit:
Lonely Planet – Duomo in Naples
Lonely Planet – Complesso Monumentale di Santa Chiara
Lonely Planet – Cappella Sansevero

La Sanitá & Capodimonte
Rising to the north of the city center is former royal hunting ground Capodimonte. It’s here that you’ll find the recently rehabilitated green of Parco di Capodimonte and its resident Palazzo di Capodimonte, a mammoth repository of art spanning seven centuries. The Royal Palace of Capodimonte is a grand Bourbon palazzo in Naples, Italy, formerly the summer residence and hunting lodge of the kings of the Two Sicily’s and was one of the two Royal Palaces in Napoli. It today houses the National Museum of Capodimonte and art gallery of the city. “Capodimonte” means “top of the hill.” The palace was originally just outside the city, which has now expanded to surround it, and is somewhat cooler than the city in summer.

Wear comfortable shoes and a sweater when you descend to view the Catacombs of San Gennaro. This underground paleo-Christian burial and worship sites are carved out of tuff, a porous stone. They are situated in the northern part of the city on the slope leading up to Capodimonte and consist of two levels, San Gennaro Superiore and San Gennaro Inferiore. The catacombs lie under the Rione Sanitá neighborhood of Naples, sometimes called the “Valley of the Dead.” The site is now easily identified by the large church of Madre del Buon Consiglio.

For more information, visit:
Lonely Planet – La Sanità & Capodimonte
Catacombs of San Gennaro – Naples

Certosa e Museo di San Martin
The “Charterhouse of St. Martin” is a former monastery complex, now a museum, in Naples. Along with Castel Sant’Elmothat that stands beside it, this is the most visible landmark of the city, perched atop the Vomero hill that commands the gulf. A Carthusian monastery, it was finished and inaugurated under the rule of Queen Joan I in 1368. It was dedicated to St. Martin of Tours. During the first half of the 16th century it was expanded. Later, in 1623 under the direction of architect Cosimo Fanzago, it was further expanded and essentially became the structure one sees today. The monastery houses a baroque church with ceiling frescoes and marble altar, as well as a museum art collection.

For more information, visit:
Lonely Planet – Campania Naples
Certosa e Museo di San Martin (website in Italian)

Palazzo Reale
The Royal Palace of Naples is a palace, museum, and historical tourist destination located in central Naples. It was one of the four residences near Naples used by the Bourbon Kings during their rule of the Kingdom of the Two Sicily’s (1734-1860): the others were the palaces of Caserta, Capodimonte, overlooking Naples, and the third Portici, on the slopes of Vesuvius. Home of the National Library and connections to Napoleon Bonaparte and Marie Antoinette, this impressive royal residence is a must see for history buffs and architectural enthusiasts alike.

For more information, visit:
10 Reasons Why You Should Visit the Palazzo Reale

Additional websites for exploring Naples:
Napoli Unplugged

FESTIVALS

Italy has fun and fascinating festivals every single month of the year and the Italians don’t miss the chance to enjoy as many as possible. You can, too, if you know what events take place each month. Here is a month-by-month rundown of the most popular and unusual Italian festivals, holidays, and special events. Attending any one of these is a great way to experience Italian culture first-hand and make your time in Italy even more special.

January starts with New Year’s Day. On January 6, Italians join the many other Europeans who celebrate the Epiphany, an important holiday on the Christian calendar that marks the coming of the Magi bearing gifts. For children, it is the day they finally get their holiday toys and sweets that La Befana, an old woman riding a broomstick, delivered the night before. If you’re bad, you get lumps of coal! Also, in January, Italians celebrate the feast days of San Antonio Abate and San Sebastiano, and at the end of January, the Fair of Sant’Orso, an international woodcarving and handicrafts fair that’s been held annually for about 1,000 years in Italy’s Aosta Valley. It honors Saint Orso, a sixth-century Irish woodcarver and monk who distributed wooden sandals to the Valley’s poor.

Topping the list of February festivals in Italy is Carnevale, an event with parades and balls like a pre-Lenten Mardi Gras, that is celebrated as a final party before Ash Wednesday. In Catania, Sicily, a big festival held on Saint Agatha’s feast day includes the second largest religious procession in the world. Other February Italian festivals include Saint Biago Day, Saint Faustino’s Day, and an almond blossom fair at Agrigento, Sicily.

Songs and gifts of chocolate mark Italian festivals in March, which include La Festa della Donna, honoring women on March 8, and Saint Joseph’s Day or Father’s Day on March 19. In Venice, at the important Marriage of the Sea event, a.k.a. the Marriage of the Adriatic, boats come out to commemorate Venice’s connection to the sea where it once held supremacy. March also marks the start of spring events, which in some years includes Easter.

In April, you’ll find Rome’s birthday, the festival of San Marco in Venice, and Saint George’s Day especially popular in Portofino and Modica. Easter often falls in April and Italy’s many food festivals start to occur for the season. April 25 is Italy’s Liberation Day, a national holiday that commemorates the fall of Mussolini’s Italian Social Republic and the end of the Nazis’ World War II occupation of Italy in 1945.

May Day (May 1) in Italy is Labor Day, a national holiday to honor the achievements of the country’s labor movement. This is also the date of Sardinia’s most important festival, the four-day Sant Efisio procession. In May, there are many spring festivals celebrating flowers and food and wine, and there are plenty of medieval re-enactments. Unusual May festivals in Italy include the Wedding of the Trees in Vetralla and the Snake Handlers’ Procession in Abruzzo.

Summer in Italy is the season of outdoor festivals. Look for posters announcing a festa or sagra.

June 2 is Festa della Repubblica, in English it means Italian National Day or Republic Day. It marks the fall of fascism and the moment Italians voted after World War II to institute a republic and oust the monarchy. On June 24, it’s the feast day of San Giovanni in Florence, when soccer games and fireworks honor the city’s patron saint. Infiorata, colorful flower petal carpets that resemble paintings, are painstakingly pieced together in June (and May), usually on the Sunday of Corpus Domini (Corpus Christi) nine weeks after Easter. Beginning in June, too, Italian towns organize outdoor music concerts.

July is one of the busiest months for festivals in Italy. Siena holds its historic Palio horse race in the town square, and there are the much-loved Festa de la Madonna Bruna in Matera and L’Ardia di San Costantino in Sardinia. You’ll find food festivals, medieval festivals, and lots of fireworks all over the country. There are also many music festivals in July.

Ferragosto (Assumption Day) is a major Italian national holiday on August 15. In August, you’ll find local festivals throughout Italy, where you can sample inexpensive regional food. Many Italians take vacations in August, often to the seaside, so you’re more likely to find festivals there. You might even run across a medieval festival where people are dressed in medieval costumes. There are also many outdoor music performances in August.

In September, Italians return from their vacations. Many festivals take place the first Sunday in September as summer comes to an end. During the month of September, you’ll still find throughout Italy local food festivals, which are a great place to mingle and sample regional food. Major September festivals include Venice’s historic regatta, the Feast of San Gennaro in Naples and the feast day of San Michele.

October is a busy month for Italian food festivals, especially for mushrooms, chestnuts, chocolate and truffles. On October weekends, you’ll find fall food festivals and wine harvest celebrations all over Italy. Although Halloween is not such a big celebration in Italy, it is becoming more popular and you may find Halloween festivals, especially in the larger cities.

November 1 is All Saints Day, which is a national holiday. November is the height of white truffle season and you’ll find truffle fairs and chestnut festivals. Rome, which has many music, theater, and dance festivals in November also hosts the important Rome International Film Festival which attracts world premieres and global cinema stars.

Celebrations and events in December revolve around Christmas. In December, Italians celebrate the Feast Day of the Immaculate Conception, Santa Lucia Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Saint Stephen’s Day, and several other Saints’ feast days. There’s a jazz festival in Orvieto, and Umbria. In Tuscany, there’s a wild boar festival honoring the emblematic animal of Tuscany that is hunted November through January for its meat, which appears in ragùs and pasta such as pappardelle cinghiale (Tuscany’s national dish). The month ends with New Year’s Eve celebrations all over the country.

For more information, visit:
TripSavvy.com – Festivals, Holidays and Special Events in Italy

SPORTS

Calcio (Football/Soccer)
Like most of the world, soccer is the sport that most captures the heart of Italians and those in Naples are no different. Whether you happen upon a pickup game with kids in the street or are watching one of the professional games, you are bound to get caught up in the excitement of calcio, the Italian word for football/soccer. Serie A club S.S.C. Napoli (Società Sportiva Calcio Napoli), two-time Italian champions, and winner of European trophies tops the soccer scene. Napoli has many well-known and highly-regarded players. The legendary Maradonna was once a member of this team before his fall from grace. The team takes on other Serie A teams, of which there are 18 of them, at the Stadio di San Paolo in Fuorigrotta in the southwest of the city. The Stadio Arturo Collana is another football arena located in Naples where Internapoli Calcio (Internapoli Soccer Club) plays and the stadium is used for other soccer matches and athletic competitions, including rugby.

For more information, visit:
Italian Football Federation
SSC Napoli Official Site (website in Italian)

Cycling
The Giro d’Italia (Tour of Italy or the Giro) is an annual multiple-stage bicycle race primarily held in Italy, while also occasionally passing through nearby countries. For those who enjoy cycling a hobby, there are many coastal trials throughout the city. Italians enjoy the sport of cycling and a handful of bicycle rental and repair shops exist throughout Naples.

For more information, visit:
Giro d’Italia Official Website
10 Awe Inspiring Routes for Cycling through Italy
Naples Cycling Guide

Basketball
The Lega Basket Serie A (LBA or Serie A Basketball League) is a professional men’s club basketball league that began in Italy in 1920. It constitutes the first and highest-tier level of the Italian league pyramid and currently consists of 16 teams, with the lowest-placed team relegated to the Serie A2 and replaced by the winner of the play-offs of that division. Local basketball courts exist as well for those who would rather play than watch basketball.

For more information, visit:
Lega Basket Serie A Official Website
Courts of the World

Running/Jogging
Next to the Piazza Vittoria, the Villa Comunale Park is a reliable bet for joggers and comes with a series of trails, as well as a roller-skating rink and sea views.

For more information, visit:
Greatruns.com Location – Naples, Italy
Map my run – Napoli, Campania

Auto Racing/Formula OneTITLE
Auto Racing has always been popular in Italy and the Italian Grand Prix is one of the longest running events on the Formula One calendar.

For more information, visit:
Formula1.com Italy

Golf
Golf is a popular sport in southern Italy and there are a series of golf courses around the city of Naples, both with nine and 18 holes, all offering extensive facilities and distant views. Pozzuoli, around 6 miles from Naples, has a particularly good course.

For more information, visit:
Top 100 Golf Courses – Southern Italy

Tennis
Naples has many tennis courts and players often find that it is best to book ahead by phone. Popular public courts can be found on Via Giochi del Mediterraneo and also at Forio d’Ischia on the island of Ischia. Many of the more expensive hotels also have courts and non-residents are usually able to use them by arrangement with either the hotel or the tourist information office. Carney Park, located about 20 kilometers east of Naples Capodichino International Airport, is one nearby location that has tennis courts.

For more information, visit:
Global Tennis Network – Naples Italy, Tennis Court Locator

Fishing
There are many freshwater lakes and streams in and around Naples, often being heavily stocked and ideal for fresh water fishing. To fish in fresh water, you need to purchase a year’s membership card from the Federazione Italiana della Pesca Sportiva, which has an office in every province. Sea fishing is possible from the shores, from boats and even underwater, and is allowed almost everywhere without a permit.

Water Sports
Many types of water sport are available in the Bay of Naples and popular water sports include windsurfing, waterskiing, canoeing, swimming, and scuba diving. The Isle of Capri is one of the best locations for these activities and has some of the cleanest water in the bay. It is also possible to take submarine trips around the island.

Sailing
There are facilities for sailing at almost all of the nearby islands around Naples and it is possible to bring your own boat to Italy for six months without any paperwork – if you transport it by car. The main bay at Naples has yacht harbors in Posillipo, while further harbors and marinas can be found at Capri, Procida, Porto, Casamicciola, Lacco Ameno, and Forio d’Ischia on the island of Ischia. At most resorts it is possible to hire boats and equipment to sail.

Beaches
Beaches around the Bay of Naples are flat and popular, especially during the warm summer months. Resort beaches charge a small fee, but is sometimes worth avoiding the crowded small and free options. The sand is often imported to the resorts, so the beaches differ from the local ones where the natural sand is grey, volcanic sand. The most attractive beaches around Naples include those of Capri, Minori, Positano, and Procida (all roughly an hour away) or along the stunning Almafi coast, a little further away.

For more information, visit:
Stripes Article – Italians Love the Beach
World Guides: Naples Sports and Outdoor Activities

Helpful Links

Note: This page contains one or more external links. See the External Links Disclaimer.