During the eighteenth century, Naples was an important stopping place along the European Grand Tour. The travel accounts then produced have been a major source for historians to describe the city life, because of the difficulty to find other sources. The use of these accounts spread a stereotypical description of Naples. But how far did this common opinion reflect the reality? Was Naples a truly different city from other European capitals? Did it suffer from unique urban problems? In this contribution, the author claims that the issues which faced Naples were very similar to the ones other cities had to cope with. Thanks to the records of a municipal office, the Tribunale della Fortificazione, it has been possible to look inside the administration of the city, con cerning e.g. the care for paving streets, for water supply, for public hygiene. At the same time, a certain amount of corruption among public officers and the behaviour of inhabitants had not turned out to be a peculiarity of Naples. Instead, a distinctive trait can be found in the relationship between the geographical narrow shape of the city and its ever-growing population that appears already as part of the social condition of the city, a handicap destined to become worse and worse with the passing of time.
Keywords: Naples, Urban History, streets, water, smell.