Planning on doing some photography in Naples, Italy? Looking for some inspiration? Here are a few of my favorite photography spots.
Welcome to Naples: Photographer’s Paradise
My home town of Naples – or Napoli in Italian – is one of Europe’s most underrated gems. Not only in terms of historical sites, culture, and food (especially food!) but also as a destination for photographers. Above all, Napoli is just simply a visually incredible city. However it’s also an exceedingly vibrant and energetic one too. This means that it offers near-unlimited material for landscape, architecture, and street photographers alike.
Here’s a run down of what I consider to be some of the best places for doing photography in Naples, Italy.
Architectural Photography in Naples, Italy
Naples is an ancient city with a long and colorful history. Its buildings encompass all kinds of architecture, from Neo Gothic and Liberty, to Rationalist leftovers from the Fascist era and the characteristic, ramshackle alleyways of the old city center. Now add in some amazing castles, elegant aristocratic villas, and an extensive network of subterranean sites, and you’re just beginning to get an idea of the excitement and grandeur on offer to architectural photographers in this lively Mediterranean metropolis.
Galleria Umberto I
A World Heritage Site, the Galleria Umberto shopping arcade is an amazing glass-roofed 19th Century structure. Great as a subject for photos in itself, or even as a background location for shooting models.
Piazza del Plebiscito
The Piazza del Plebiscito is a striking public square in the center of the city. It features a huge dome and is ringed by a long semicircular arcade of arches that looks stunning at night when lit up.
Casa del Portuale
For something a little different, check out Aldo Rossi’s brutalist social services building at the Port of Napoli. Like a futuristic ocean liner, turned inside out.
Street Photography in Naples, Italy
As with the bazaars of North Africa, the Mediterranean regions of Southern Europe provide a fantastic opportunity to photograph lively street scenes and authentic local markets. Along with Sicily, Naples is probably the best place in Italy to photograph the unique charm of traditional street life.
Whether you’re looking for unbelievable tumbledown locations or want to capture a cast of fantastical rustic characters, my home town is an unparalleled destination for street photography. Here are what I consider to be some of the best places to do street photography in Naples.
Old Center and Spaccanapoli
In the old center of Naples is the long street known as Spaccanapoli (literally “Naples splitter” because it visually cuts the city in half). Owing to the large number of interesting churches and other important cultural sites in the area, Spaccanapoli is a popular neighborhood with tourists. However, due to its tightly-packed lanes and busy street life, it’s also a great part of the city for street photography.
Fresh Food Markets
Shooting photography of Naples food markets is one of my favorite pastimes. The city is home to many local farmers’ markets, and the people to be found in these lively locations are like nowhere else in the world. Here you can see the real soul of Naples.
Probably my favorite market is Antignano in the Vomero neighborhood, a wealthy district of Naples up on the hill. Here in a rustic piazza you’ll find numerous stalls, run by local characters, and selling attractive regional produce, such as fresh fruit, vegetables, and fish. In any case, it’s well worth the trip up to Vomero for the journey on the charming funicular railway alone.
Photographing Napoli’s Spanish Quarter is like stepping back in time. Nowhere else will you find such a large concentration of charmingly dilapidated apartment buildings and narrow, labyrinthian alleyways – often filled with inhabitants’ laundry hanging out on a line between closely neighboring buildings.
Here the borderline between street photography and intimate documentary becomes fully blurred; during the warmer months, many inhabitants treat the street as an extension of their own homes, with doors thrown open to the world and ground floor living areas spilling out into the cobbled alleys.
Just be discrete and don’t flash your camera around too much though, as this area is still very “real.”
Landscape Photography in Naples, Italy
As if all this weren’t enough in itself, there’s also the fact that Naples is located on a sweeping bay with views of the famed Amalfi peninsula and the glamorous Islands of Capri, Ischia, and Procida. And what about the fantastic Southern European light and year-round good weather? All these factors combine to make Naples an equally amazing location for landscape photography too – urban or otherwise. And that’s without even mentioning the volcano…
How could a city dominated by an active volcano ever fail to be anything but inspiring to photographers? Aside from perhaps the deepest recesses of the Spanish Quarter, or the warren of old streets around Spaccanapoli, the double peaks of Vesuvius tower high over every corner of Naples, imposing themselves on views from almost any part of the city. What a backdrop!
For the best vistas, head halfway up the hill towards Vomero, where the road looks out above the Quartieri Spagnoli. Here you can capture stunning shots of Napoli’s oldest quarters sprawling out along the gracefully curved shoreline – with the formidable majesty of Vesuvio in the near distance.
The more actively-inclined will want to climb Vesuvius itself for dramatic views of the Gulf; with Naples itself on one side, and Pompei and the Amalfi on the other.
Another great location for shooting Vesuvius and the Gulf is Cape Posillipo, on the opposite side off town. But Posillipo is not only worth the trip for the views it affords of the rest of Napoli. Indeed, with its rugged greenery-covered outcrops populated with luxurious villas, it’s a neighborhood with many charms of its own – especially for landscape and travel photographers.
Check out the quaint little port of Marechiaro. A popular hang out of Hollywood stars back in the days of the Dolce Vita, and well worth a trip for photographers today. Or head over to Gaiola Island; actually two tiny islands joined by a precarious bridge with a strange little villa-cum-military-installation on top. Just be careful while you’re there: due to the unfortunate endings many of its previous owners met, Gaiola is said to be cursed!
Go beyond Posillipo to the Pozzuoli area to the west of Naples and you’ll be greeted with sights worthy of Hades; the region is dotted with active sulfur craters and boiling mud pits. In fact, while Vesuvius is more famous, and clearly dominates the entire city, the Campi Flegrei actually pose an even greater risk of impending seismic activity and eruption than Vesuvius. Armchair geologists and volcanic photography enthusiasts will be in their element here.
Hopefully the above list of places to do photography in Naples, Italy will be of use to anyone visiting my home town for just a few days. Of course, as a local photographer in Naples, I have a lot of favorite spots for photography here. And if you’re lucky enough to spend a longer period of time in this wonderful city, you’ll no doubt find many great locations of your own too. If unfortunately, Naples is still not on your travel list, and you need right now some photos for business or personal purpose, feel free to check my Photo Gallery ( link), where you can buy my original shots.