The Piazza del Plebiscito is an immense paved area across which the domed San Francesco di Paola church and the Palazzo
Reale (Royal Palace of Naples) face each other. The area was once covered with a conglomeration of buildings, but this
arrangement proved offensive to Joachim Murat, Napoleon’s brother-in-law, who found himself ruling Naples from 1808 until
1815. He had the buildings removed as part of a plan for a large, symmetrical expanse and began construction on some of
the surrounding buildings. But Napoleon’s misfortune became Murat’s misfortune, and he was ousted before the plan could
be completed. The reinstated Ferdinand of Bourbon resolved to finish things, though, and he commissioned the design and
construction of the San Francesco di Paola church, a large domed structure inspired by the Pantheon in Rome.
Automobiles are not allowed in the Piazza these days, and the youth of Naples takes advantage of the open space to practice
Soccer Practice in the Piazza
Construction on the Palazzo Reale began in 1600 but wasn’t completed until 1843. As one would expect of a royal palace, it’s
full of magnificent rooms. Again, they accepted the ArteCard, and like the Castel Sant’ Elmo, they let us in for free. It
appeared that photography was against the rules, so we didn’t take very many pictures while inside.
The façade was fair game, though, so we took several pictures of the niches containing statues of several of the most
well-known kings of Naples ("well-known" being a relative term for non-Italians).
Near the Piazza is the medieval-looking Castel Nuovo, originally built in the 13th Century, and then completely rebuilt in the
15th Century. It was called nuovo, or new, to distinguish it from the other castles in town, which were less new. The castle
has five large cylindrical towers made of darker stone from the rest of the structure and an archway (the Arco di Trionfo)
which is quite impressive, but doesn’t seem to match anything else in the castle architecturally, despite being built around
the same time.
From the Castel Nuovo, we walked up the Via Toledo all the way back to our hotel. We spent the last part of our last day
in Naples recovering from the first part, but we eventually stirred ourselves enough to go to a pizzeria around the corner
which had wonderful pizza and wonderful pasta, apparently par for the course in Naples.
There was much we didn’t see in and around Naples, but we had a great time with what we did see, and hope to return someday.