If you do your research on Naples, almost every guide will tell you to go to Piazza Plebescito. In the center of the city, somewhere in between the maze of little streets and shops, this stretched out square offers some peace and a stunning view. Its building plan first emerged in the beginning of the 19th century, back in the good old days when territory was an ongoing issue of power struggle between a couple of machos. The plan changed throughout the years and subsequent leaders. Eventually it was build consisting of Palazzo Reale, the Basillica of San Francesco di Paolo (based on the pantheon of Rome) and two similar palazzos: Palazzo Salerno and Palazzo della Prefettura. These are some pretty important palaces, which are all worth a visit. In the middle you find two big statues: Karel III and Ferdinand I who are both riding a horse.
However, this square is not all about museums. The locals have created a fun game involving this area. My Italian friends told me over dinner that when you are blindfolded, it is impossible to walk between the two statues of horsemen. Amused by their conviction and thinking that the wine may have influenced their perceptions, I called bullshit. I had seen the square a numerous of times before, and for those who have not visited Naples yet, I can assure you there's at least a 10 meter gap between the two statues. Apparently, you have to try it when you visit the Piazza for the first time. So we gathered our napkins in the restaurant and headed towards the square.
The assignment seemed quite easy. You have to start with your back against palazzo Realo and try to walk in a straight line towards the basilica, between the two statues. You have to wear a blindfold but someone can walk with you, to stop you from bumping into strangers. Self-confident a couple of Belgian friends and I started our journey, guided by our Italian entourage. I was pretty sure I was nailing it, only to find out I had made a huge loop to the left and was nowhere near the statues. All of my friends were in different places, but nevertheless far removed from the horsemen. When it was Dries turn, we all laughed with his crooked walk. But of course, he had to show off and he was the only foreigner who managed to land perfectly in the middle of the statues. To this day I think he cheated, but then again, he must be good at keeping balance given the fact that he made his job out of it.
Maybe this Napolitan custom is not worth the mention in a guide for Naples. But for me this embraces the Napolitan culture; mixing their beautiful cultural heritage with some fun. If you are visiting the square, try this out and see for yourself!