Stunning Naples from a Birds Eye View

Twilight begins to set over Naples from the old steps leading up to San Martino

San Martino, a small community high above the sprawling city of Naples, is a refuge from the chaos and confusion of overcrowded metropolitan life. With a reputation of being one of the best neighborhoods in the city, it is also the home of two outstanding historical buildings; Castel Sant’Elmo and the former Carthusian monastery of San Martino which is now a museum. As impressive as these two landmarks are, it is the sweeping view of Naples and the surrounding bay that take my breath away.

Museum of San Martino on the left looking out over Mt. Vesuvius and the Bay of Naples
Museum of San Martino on the left looking out over Mt. Vesuvius and the Bay of Naples

To reach San Martino at the top of the hill, I took a funicular from the crowded shop-strewn area of Montesanto. A funicular is a cable car that is pulleyed up the hillside. The neighborhood was clean and calm by comparison to the bustle below. I found it a refreshing escape. People drove normally and the streets were clear of bumper to bumper cars parked along the curb.

Mt. Vesuvius looms in the distance over Napoli
Mt.Vesuvius, like a camel’s back, looms in the distance over Naples
San Martino, now a museum
San Martino Monastery, now a museum

Once I reached the museum of San Martino on foot, which was a short uphill climb from the funicular, I was greeted by stunning views of the city of Naples below. Land and sea spanned out in every direction with a vast multitude of buildings that housed the crowded metropolis.

The former monastery, finished and consecrated in 1368, is now a museum with outstanding Bourbon and Spanish era artifacts. World-renown nativity scenes, old wooden ships, horse-drawn Cinderella carriages and several rooms of beautiful paintings brought the museum to life. In the center is a courtyard with gardens and an old monks graveyard.

View from San Martino
Veranda at San Martino Museum with commanding views of the Bay of Naples

This huge covered porch is part of the old monastery museum. As I walked around the entire perimeter, views of Naples, the water and surrounding districts sprawled out before me in one vast sweep. Sparkling and beautiful, my camera was fast at work in a futile attempt to capture it all.  But still the photos give a glimpse of its boundless splendor. 20131114-140541.jpg

Creepy Skull Courtyard inside the museum
Creepy Skulls, one on each corner, in the courtyard of the museum

The inner courtyard within the museum was very old but beautifully arched. This large marble square was marked with skulls all the way around.

Castel Sant'Elmo, situated right next to San Martino Museum
Castel Sant’Elmo, situated right next to San Martino Museum

The Castle stands tall and mountainous next to the museum.

Up close and personal-I zoomed in on the waterfront and palace
Up close and personal -I zoomed in on the waterfront and the palace of Naples
Stairs leading down from San Martino to the city
Stairs leading down from San Martino to the city

On the way back down I took the stairs instead of the funicular. It zig-zagged back and forth, providing many wonderful views of Naples as I descended. Old homes and garden walls framed the stairs tightly.

Strolling through a neighborhood street while descending Vomero hill.
Strolling through a neighborhood street while descending, with Naples ahead.

These houses were so close to the pathway that I could clearly hear conversations coming from them through the open windows. Older women were hanging their wash out to dry, and smells of cooking drifted through the air, making me hungry!

I had worked up an appetite! This sign looked good so I stopped on by.
I had worked up an appetite! This sign looked good so I stopped on by.
I think this will do nicely!
I think this will do nicely!
Bay of Naples
Bay of Naples

I hope to return to San Martino and stand once more at the old fortress walls to gaze out at the vast beauty of Naples with all its charms. Mt. Vesuvius, the sparkling bay, reddish-pink sunsets that streak across the sky….all that encompass the ancient symmetry of an aging land .


12 thoughts on “Stunning Naples from a Birds Eye View

  • I am so glad to see this post, Susan – I have avoided Naples for many years because people have told me it isn’t that beautiful. You have proven them wrong – and I very much look forward to being there during my next trip to Italy. Thanks for the tour!


    • David, I am so glad you enjoyed the post, and that you are going. The beauty of Naples is mainly from above from San Martino as you can see. The waterfront has a wide and long walkway that is very nice as well. Inland is a maze of streets that you can easily get lost in. Have a good map with you. There are some hidden gems among the clutter and chaos! I have always felt safe while visiting although others have warned me to be careful. Driving is very nerve wracking, and I don’t recommend it.


    • San Martino up above is where you will find those stunning views. I also loved the waterfront in Naples, especially during early evening. The rest is quite a maze of old medieval ‘confusion’ but still vibrant and full of life. It is a rare experience for sure!


  • Photos are breathtaking, Susan. It’s beautiful and you can look out and see the sea and coastline and the houses. I love the architecture and felt like I was walking down the cobbled street with you. It’s amazing how you can look out over a wide, expansive area. It’s like that where I live in Colorado. If you get up high, you can see for miles.

    Also, I wanted to let you know I nominated you for the Dragon’s Loyalty Award on a post at my site ( I’m happy to share you with my readers. 🙂


    • Pat, you are too kind! To nominate me….bless your heart. I’m humbled beyond measure, seriously…thank you also for appreciating my articles and being such a wonderful support. I am so glad you are out there! You are amazing, dear friend:)


  • Dear Susan:
    As a first-generation Neapolitan-American, this latest chronicle really stirred the ancestral embers! What wonderful places so beautifully described!

    My wife and I have been to Naples a few times but you have been to some places we have not yet had the pleasure of seeing! Your dramatic photos called to mind an “aural depiction” of Naples, captured by an old Columbia Masterwork LP (a truly wonderful 33 1/3 record) called “NEAPOLITAN GOLD”. It’s hard to describe the musical experience, but many of the photos you took reminded me of the Neapolitan music on this LP.

    The orchestrations of classic Neapolitan songs are by one Gianni Monese and are incomparable…I don’t think I have EVER heard their equal over all these years.
    I recommend trying to get a copy of it on Ebay or other sites. The musical experience is nothing short of magical and will reach deep down into your heart as you recall the mental images of these wonderful places you have visited in Naples.

    I leave you a link to the image on the NEAPOLITAN GOLD album cover–itself a marvel of color photography!



    • Hi Albert, thank you so much for your kind words. I would love to find a copy of Neapolitan Gold. Music that stirs my soul and conjures up those images of Napoli sounds wonderful…I would enjoy it completely. Thank you for introducing it to me. And I am so glad to hear from you and that you enjoyed the article:)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s