One of the great adventures of travel often takes place in museums as you explore a culture’s revered artwork, both past and contemporary. Some of the more exciting masterpieces can be found outside of these traditional institutions and instead in the streets. But delve deeper in Naples, Italy and you’ll find even greater treasures below the city’s surface in their underground metro stations.
The Naples metro system has seen its share of setbacks since its initiation in the 1980s. But today it stands as one of the premier art installations of the incredible Italian city. As you take the subway through various stations, you’ll find Italy’s renown as a destination for fine art extends to this unconventional format. The Naples metro program’s objective has been to both reconfigure the city’s public transportation infrastructure and turn Naples into a must-see travel destination for the arts.
Crafted by Italian artist Michelangelo Pistoletto, the Garibaldi Station’s Stazione installation creates a meta-message. The railway’s exterior is covered by metal and glass structures that lead to shops and stairs near the docks. Walking the futuristic path between escalators, you end up finding a mirrored wall full of photos of passengers, waiting or moving. Its purpose: to make the real passengers interact with the passengers in the art installation.
This station lies close to the city’s most important port, Molo Beverello, an archaeological site rife with relics. As work was done to prepare the station for artists Àlvaro Siza and Eduardo Souto de Moura, digs came across remains of the original port of Neapolis. Using lava stone and white plaster, Siza and de Moura crafted an image of purity in combination with the seamless lines of the station. Municipio Station also features Michal Rovner’s Passagi, a video installation depicting the city, as well as Jerusalem and Paris, with figures in the distance.
This one stands as one of the newest of the Naples Metro Art Stations. Its architectural design displays a more modern sensibility that reminds one of an Ikea rather than art. But the elegance of its engineering that serves both as aesthetic and infrastructure portrays the marriage of practicality with artistic tastes.
Architects Karim Rashid and Alessandro Mendini designed the University Station in 2011, one of the most colorful of the Naples Metro Art Stations. Bright hues of fuchsia and lime pop out in whimsical, geometric shapes from the walls, complementing the shining steel sculptures and black pillars in the middle. Pieces titled Synapsis, Ikon, and Conversation profiles emphasize how important it is to communicate.
Heralded as the shining jewel of the Naples Metro Art Stations, the Toledo Station was even nominated as the most beautiful transit station in all of Europe. Every level’s art and architecture are centered around a different color theme related to Naples’ history and culture. The first level atrium in black reflects the asphalt of contemporary life while the next level of ochre and yellow refers to Neapolitan tuff and sunny scenes. As you reach the deepest level, you come across a shimmering, violet-blue ceiling mosaic that gives way to mesmerizing greens that give the impression of moving through water. Throughout every level, a dome across all floors called the “Crater de Luz” creates an opening for light to filter through and illuminate the beauty of the station’s art installation.
Explore Naples and its blooming art project on our “7-Night Iconic Greece and Italy” luxe-adventure voyage.