As you descend into stazione Toledo, a blue mosaic ceiling wraps you in the magic of a pointillist cone of light. A few hundred metres away, all your senses are challenged as stazione Università’s psychedelic floors morph beneath your feet. It sounds unreal, especially if you’re used to travelling the cash-strapped transit systems of many big cities. In Naples, Italy, however, a major program of architecture, art and archaeology — the “three As” — animates the public transportation network.

Known for many of the wrong reasons, but also for its remarkable heritage and beauty, Naples embarked on the formidable infrastructure undertaking in the 1980s. From the start, the idea was to revamp the city’s image while upgrading and expanding…

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