Naples is one of the oldest places in the world, with records dating back almost 4000 years to when the ancient Greeks first established a settlement on the coast. The historic city of Neopolis was established and founded a culture that survived even after a Roman invasion.
Naples passed from Roman control to Goth, Byzantine, Lombard and Norman rule before becoming a part of the Kingdom of Sicily in 1266 and getting named its capital. During the Renaissance period of the 15th century, the rule of the King of Aragon, Alfonso I, made the city one of the most influential locations of the time, second only to Florence.
After falling under the power of the Spanish Empire in the 16th century, Naples swelled in population and size and became one of the largest cities in Europe. Whilst this did lead to the establishment of a Neapolitan Republic during the next two centuries, Naples was then conquered by Napoleon.
After once again becoming part of the Kingdom of Sicily, Naples eventually joined the unification of Italy in the late 1800s, although this process took a while because of the city’s power and defined culture. Whilst the location prospered after this, in part because of its favour as a Grand Tour destination, Naples suffered politically and economically in the 19th and 20th century and has only recently begun rebuilding its reputation as a safe and successful part of Italy.
Sicily is the largest region in Italy, consisting of an island found just off the ‘toe’ of the country’s boot. With a long history of different rulers and inhabitants, the island has a long and varied history that begins with the first significant colonization of the region in the 8th century B.C by Greek settlers.
Roman troops took control of Sicily almost two hundred years later in 212 B.C and ruled for six centuries, slowly trying to introduce their culture to the island and partially succeeding. Sicily was then invaded again after this period and fell under the rule of both Byzantine and Arabic groups.
Sicily became an independent kingdom in 1071 and was ruled by the Normans, who brought a lot of political and economic prosperity to the island. Control of the island passed to several different countries in the 17th century before Sicily became a Spanish island right at the start of the 1700s. The unification of Italy in the late 1800s marked the final change of control for the island, and Sicily was finally established as an autonomous region of the country in 1946.
Both locations have a rich and fascinating history, with plenty to discover in Naples and across the island of Sicily. If you’re looking for classic ancient historical monuments and lots of Greek and Roman history then Sicily is the best option for your vacation, whereas Naples is still full of history but more suited to those who want to learn the history of Neapolitan culture.