The Naples underground caves is an extensive network of caves that extends for nearly 50 miles underneath the city of Naples and is up to 130 feet deep in certain areas. To get here, there are entrances at both the Piazza Plebiscito and the Piazza San Gaetano. Subterranean Naples, or Napoli Sotterranea, has been used for a wide variety of purposes over the centuries by the Neapolitan population, including bomb shelters during WWII, sites for religious and cult gatherings, waste dumps, cisterns, and aqueducts. Today, visitors from all over the world have the opportunity to experience the immense beauty and the dark mystery that are all a part of the Naples caves.
When you visit the caves, you will have the opportunity to walk through the cave system and witness the impressive cisterns that were built during the time of the ancient Greeks and were still in use up to the nineteenth century. You will also see the vast caverns with far reaching ceilings, as well as the drawings on the cave walls that tell myriad stories all on their own. There are telling renderings of WWII bombers scrawled on the walls from the time when people used the Naples underground caves for shelters. They remind visitors of the intensely fearful time this was in Naples during the war, as Naples was heavily bombed. These caves are an excellent attraction for anyone interested in learning about the history of Naples.
Starting around 400 BC, the Napoli Sotterranea were a key component of the clean water system in the city of Naples. The aqueducts were used in conjunction with the large cisterns in the caves that allowed people in the city access to potable drinking water. These are some of the most impressive aspects of the Naples underground caves. It is interesting to witness these giant cisterns in the context of their massive dwelling place. The long history of Naples is evident all over the city—in the sites of the Roman ruins, at the museums and churches, and in the historic district itself. The Naples caves are certainly an important part of the nearly 2,800-year history of the city.
The Grotta di Seiano is one of the top attractions within the cave system. It is a huge tunnel that connects Coroglio and Trentaremi Bay. It was built in the first century to connect the houses of important Roman politicians to places of interest around the city and to one another. The Grotta di Seiano is a fascinating, half-mile journey through the tufo stone of Posillipo Hill. What is perhaps the most amazing feature of the Grotta di Seiano is that it opens on either end to allow in broad shafts of daylight and providing tourists with absolutely breathtaking views of the bay. The entire hike through this tunnel takes about an hour and you can arrange guided tours for a minimum of five people (by phone only). Guided tours last about two hours.
If you are planning a trip to southern Italy, you should consider a journey through the enigmatic Napoli Sotterranea. This is a fun and inexpensive way to spend a few hours in Naples. It is free to get in during the week unless you are setting up a guided tour.