Below the streets and buildings of Naples, there is a labyrinth of corridors and caves that over time has become one of the city’s most visited tourist attractions. There are several legends associated with these corridors.
Underground Naples (Napoli Sotterranea)
There are two places from which tours are organized. The first one is in the Piazza San Gaetano 68 and the second one in the Piazza del Plebiscito (next to Bar Gambrinus). Tel: (+39) 081296944. Guided tours in Italian begin at every full hour from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.. Guided tours in English begin at 10:00, 12:00, 14:00, 16:00 and 18:00. Entrance fee: 9 Euro.
(Note that times and rates may have been subject to change after this article was written.)
History Underground Naples
The total length of the corridors is about 80km. The deepest cave is about 40m underground.
The caves were originally created when excavating the yellowish volcanic rock called tufa (tuff stone), which was used to build houses.
They existed as early as 400 B.C. and were used for various purposes. Not only did they serve as shelters and catacombs, but they were also used for religious purposes. They were also often used for dumping garbage.
Over the centuries, the caves were often used as housing by poor people. Small children would sometimes crawl through extremely narrow passages to go steal food from other families. The unexplained theft was then attributed to a benevolent spirit called Munaciello. Munaciello was described as a hooded monk and his help is often invoked by the superstitious part of the population to recover a lost item or to predict a lottery number.
During World War II, people often took shelter from bombings inside the caves. All sorts of graffiti on the walls of the corridors testify to this.
The corridor system was also used to store the water that was brought into the city via aqueducts in underground areas, so that drinking water was available at various points in the city. This system, which dated back to Greek times, was used until the 19th century.