Piazza del Plebiscito and Quartieri Spagnoli
Quartieri Spagnoli is the area north of Piazza del Plebiscito – the city’s largest square, which is dominated on one side by the lavish façade of the Palazzo Reale, housing lavish royal apartments, the court theatre, and Italy’s National Library. Opposite is the church of San Francesco di Paola, with its colonnades of arched Doric columns wrapping around the piazza. Laid out in 1809, Antonio Canova was responsible for the massive equestrian statue in the centre of the newly laid pavement. Here kids play football among all the grandeur, and the square comes into its own on ceremonial occasions. The tight network of narrow streets behind the piazza once housed Spanish soldiers in tall tenements that march up the hill to the west of Napoli’s main shopping street, Via Toledo. Here you’ll spot offal sellers, fast-food stalls, organ players; in short a microcosm of the whole Neopolitan experience. It’s the place to wonder to get a feel for the romance and passion of the city. Remember some parts of the Quartieri Spagnoli are dodgy – especially after dark – be on guard for groups of small kids clamoring for your attention.