Port of Napoli
Review and History

The Port of Napoli (also known as Naples) is the capital of the Campania region in southern Italy. Naples lies on Italy's west coast some 44 kilometers northwest of the Port of Salerno and about 250 kilometers southeast of the Port of Civitavecchia, Rome's port. The Port of Napoli lies between two volcanic areas - Mount Vesuvius (last erupted in 1944) and the Plegraean Fields. A 1980 earthquake damaged some of Port of Napoli area. Since then, the area west of Naples has suffered from rises and falls of the land. In 2001, over 993 thousand people lived in the Port of Napoli.

Mount Vesuvius and the Bay of Naples

Mount Vesuvius and the Bay of Naples

Taken from the observatory module of the International Space Station (ISS) on New Year's Day, 2013.
Photo by NASA

The economy of the Port of Napoli and the Naples area is based on tourism, commerce, and agriculture. Today's Port of Napoli is a busy container terminal. In the past, Naples was a busy industrial city as well, but many of the factories have closed or moved. Today, the Port of Napoli is home to growing electronics and aircraft industries. Its biggest remaining industrial facilities are those that produce Alfa Romeo automobiles. Several ship builders are located in the Port of Napoli. Food processing is a major industry in Naples, and it is famous for its Neapolitan coffee. The economy of modern Naples has moved away from the traditional agricultural economy to a service-based economy, which is the biggest employment sector in the Port of Napoli.

Port History

In the 9th Century BC, a group of Greek sailors from Rhodes landed on the site of the future Port of Napoli and, between the 7th and 6th Centuries BC, a Greek colony called Cumae was founded. In 475 BC, Cumae residents founded Neapolis to the east of the colony. Serving as a military port for both Greece and Rome, Naples' growth as a commercial port grew over time.

During Rome's rule, the Port of Napoli joined Rome in the war against Carthage. Its walls stopped Hannibal from conquering Naples. Valued by Rome as a center of Greek culture, the people maintained Greek customs and language, and several emperors vacationed in the Port of Napoli. When Christianity came to Rome, both St. Peter and St. Paul are believed to have preached there. Naples' patron saint, St. Januarius, was martyred there.

After the decline of Rome's western empire, the Germanic Ostrogoths captured the Port of Napoli. But in 536 AD, the Byzantine Empire took Napoli. Struggle for control of Naples continued for many years. When Byzantine influence waned, the Duchy of Naples was created, and it continued to prize its Greco-Roman history. By the late 8th Century, the Port of Napoli was allied with Rome's papacy. The Port of Napoli gained complete independence by 840.

In the 11th Century, the Port of Napoli employed Norman mercenaries to battle their rivals. One hundred years later, the Normans took control of Napoli. Under Norman rule, the Port of Napoli became a member of the Hanseatic cities and enjoyed great prosperity. In the 13th Century, during the reign of Charles I of Anjou, the port grew rapidly and many new buildings were constructed. In 1501, it came under the rule of Louis XII of France, and the Neopolitan king was taken prisoner. This was short-lived, however, as Napoli soon came under the rule of the Spanish Empire.

Even after rule passed to Spain, construction continued with new warehouses, storage areas, factories, and fortifications. In the 18th Century, the dynasty of the Bourbons brought new prosperity, and the Port of Napoli became one of the great capitals of Europe, along with Paris and London. A shipyard was created there, and the first steamship on the Mediterranean set out from the Port in 1818.

The Port of Napoli went into a time of decline after the 1861 unification of Italy. The government siphoned the Port of Napoli' banks into the national treasury, and as many as four million people left the area. Revival finally came in the early 20th Century.

The World War II period saw the Port of Napoli as the primary link between Italy and its colonies. New infrastructure was installed, including the harbor station. Neapolitans did not rebel under Mussolini's fascism, but they were the first to rebel against German occupation. Then after the war, the Port of Napoli was the main disembarkation point for Italians leaving for a new future in America.

Of all Italian cities, Naples was the most bombed during the war. Italy's government provided funding from the 1950s to the 1980s that helped improve the economy. Today, the Port of Napoli still faces challenges from high unemployment and landfill management problems.

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