Naples – San Ferdinando – Via Toledo – things to see

From Piazza Dante you can walk down Via Toledo which is the main shopping street in Naples. I’ve written two posts about this road, the following one about food and this one about things to see.

Galleria Umberto

At one end is the Galleria Umberto, a beautiful glass domed shopping centre built in 1887, which copies elements of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele in Milan, that in turn was influenced by the historic glass and metal arcades of Paris.

Galleria Umberto roof

It was under renovation for many years but now fully restored, it’s full of posh shops once again. Even if you’re not buying, you should definitely stop in to admire the ornate decoration and the beautiful roof.

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I particularly like the metal angels on the roof struts.

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A lasting memory is of a group of kids using the smooth expanse of the floor for an opportunistic game of football, before they were chased off by the security (this is a football-mad city with no green spaces).

At 185 Via Toledo, a few doors down from the Galleria, is Palazzo Zevallos Stigliano built in 1639. Once the family home of a rich Spanish merchant, it’s now an art gallery under the patronage of a national bank.

The ground floor is a bit gloomy but the glowing gold decoration on the walls of the main staircase, dating from 1832, is simply stunning.

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The ceiling depicts the poetess Sappho and the god Apollo sitting on clouds in a golden sky with the figures of the Muses in the background, framed by a gilded cornice.

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Various rooms contain beautiful sculptures…

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…and paintings by Neapolitan artists, which occasionally can be quite gruesome.

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I was enticed in by an exhibition of WW1 propaganda posters called ‘La Grande Guerra’; neoclassical art married with the brutal images of war.

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Please see my next post for food shops and restaurants along Via Toledo.

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