Feast on History
Food, wine and art focused tours of Southern Italy
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Italian Things We Love

A magazine devoted to food, wine and art stories in Southern Italy.

Italy's Largest Art Museum

Tourists wait on line for hours at the Uffizi in Florence, pounce on tickets for the Borghese Gallery in Rome, but could much more easily visit the Museo di Capodimonte in Naples which rivals both. It's the largest museum in Italy housed inside a former Bourbon Palace. Its collection includes masterpieces by Raphael, Titian, Caravaggio and Andy Warhol. Now that tourism to Naples is on the rise, I say, go, go now to this incredible art museum while you can still wander the galleries in relative solitude. 



Originally a Bourbon Palace, Capodimonte sits in the middle of a public park overlooking the historic center of Naples. 

Originally a Bourbon Palace, Capodimonte sits in the middle of a public park overlooking the historic center of Naples. 

Highlights of the collection at Museo di Capodimonte

Capodimonte is an encyclopedic museum with works ranging from Roman to modern art and is in the top three largest museums in Italy. It includes historic rooms and furniture and a beautiful park overlooking the city. The building project began in 1738 as a hilltop palace for the ruling Bourbon royalty. By 1787, a studio for painting restoration was established there. In 1799, the Bourbons were overthrown including the Neapolitan queen who was Marie Antoinette's big sister. 

Maria Carolina, Queen of Naples and big sister to Marie Antoinette

Maria Carolina, Queen of Naples and big sister to Marie Antoinette

Bourbon salon rooms inside Museo di Capodimonte feel like a trip to Versailles

Bourbon salon rooms inside Museo di Capodimonte feel like a trip to Versailles

The Farnese Collection of art is the core of the museum's collection and it's worth the trip to Naples alone. (Sculpture from the same collection is at the Naples National Archaeological Museum.) Don't miss Parmigianino's "Antea". While reading Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan Novels, I imagined that Lila looked like her minus the Renaissance swag.

Parmigianino's "Antea" is a highlight of a visit to the Museo di Capodimonte in Naples

Parmigianino's "Antea" is a highlight of a visit to the Museo di Capodimonte in Naples

Three more paintings that absolutely can't be missed are Caravaggio's "Flagellation of Christ", Artemisia Gentileschi's "Judith and Holofernes" and "Danae" by Titian. The first two both belong to the Baroque period which was the most glorious period of Naples when the majority of the city's 600 churches were built or redesigned. 

Titian's "Danae", one of the most famous paintings of the Italian Renaissance belongs to the Museo di Capodimonte Naples

Titian's "Danae", one of the most famous paintings of the Italian Renaissance belongs to the Museo di Capodimonte Naples

How to get to Capodimonte from the historic center of Naples

In the past it was always difficult to reach Capodimonte from the city center of Naples. One could either take the city bus (long and confusing) or fork over €30 for a taxi. But just recently, a shuttle bus has been put in place with stops in front of the Teatro San Carlo opera house, Piazza Dante and the Naples National Archaeological Museum. A round-trip ticket which includes museum admission is only €12. And it's impossible to miss the bus as it's wrapped in Caravaggio's "Flagellation of Christ." The schedule and prices can be found at Museo di Capodimonte's new website

Shuttle bus from Piazza Trento e Trieste to Museo di Capodimonte is easy to spot and only costs €12 round-trip including museum admission.

Shuttle bus from Piazza Trento e Trieste to Museo di Capodimonte is easy to spot and only costs €12 round-trip including museum admission.

Tours of Capodimonte

As the biggest museum in Italy, it's helpful to see the extraordinary collections of Capodimonte with a guide. If you're interested in visiting the museum with an art historian, contact danielle@feastonhistory.com. You may also enjoy our tour of Naples inspired by Elena Ferrante which includes a visit to the Capodimonte on the final day of the tour.