First settled by Greeks in the second millennium BC, Naples is one of the oldest continuously inhabited urban areas in the world. In the ninth century BC, a colony known as Parthenope or Παρθενόπη was established on the Island of Megaride, later refounded as Neápolis in the sixth century BC. The city was an important part of Magna Graecia, played a major role in the merging of Greek and Roman society and a significant cultural centre under the Romans. It was capital of the Duchy of Naples (661-1139), then the Kingdom of Naples (1282 and 1816) and finally the Two Sicilies until the unification of Italy in 1861.
Between 1925 and 1936, Naples was expanded and upgraded by Benito Mussolini's government but severely damaged by Allied bombing during World War II, leading to extensive post-1945 reconstruction work. Naples has experienced significant economic growth in recent decades, helped by the construction of the Centro Direzionale business district and an advanced transportation network, which includes the Alta Velocità high-speed rail link to Rome and Salerno and an expanded subway network. Naples is the third-largest urban economy in Italy, after Milan and Rome. The Port of Naples is one of the most important in Europe and home of the Allied Joint Force Command Naples, the NATO body that oversees North Africa, the Sahel and Middle East.
Naples' historic city centre is the largest in Europe and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with a wide range of culturally and historically significant sites nearby, including the Palace of Caserta and the Roman ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Naples is also known for its natural beauties (Posillipo, Phlegraean Fields, Nisida, Vesuvius, etc.), comparables to those of Rio de Janeiro. Neapolitan cuisine is synonymous with pizza, which originated in the city but it includes many other less well-known dishes and is the Italian city with the highest number of accredited stars from the Michelin Guide.