Tour of Italy Part II: Naples
Today I continue the Tour of Italy series, sharing some photos and favorite things to do in Naples, Italy.
Let me start by saying this: Naples took some getting used to, but in the end I found the charm of Napoli. Before our trip I heard a whole lot of negative remarks about Naples: it's dirty, there's crime, you need to be careful....etc. I actually found all of those things to be true. Naples was less polished than many other Italian cities. There were a few times where I felt mildly uneasy. And I was careful to keep a tighter hold on my purse and not flash my phone around. However, I found much more to Naples than these things.
In Naples, I found a city with beautiful and grand old architecture. I found the Neapolitan people to be a genuine and no-nonsense sort of people with a warmth beneath the surface. And I found a city that despite the dirt, has a beautiful natural setting with the glittering Bay of Naples in the foreground and the silhouette of Mount Vesuvius framed in the distance. Here are some of my favorite things to see, do, and eat in Naples.
What To See & Do in Naples
When in Naples, wander the streets and take in the views. I especially enjoyed the area around Piazza del Plebiscito and Galleria Umberto. Make a visit to Ovo Castle (free!) for priceless views of Mount Vesuvius and the Bay of Naples. Walk Via Toledo for it's retail stores and food shops. Walk Via dei Tribunali to see the sights. Then turn off the beaten path a little bit (though not too far) and see how actual Neapolitans live. In Naples it wasn't so hard for me to envision how life was before all of the toursits arrived. Naples also has more than it's fair share of beautiful churches so be sure to pay a visit to a few of them. I'd recommend Chiesa del Gesu Nuovo with it's unique facade, Chiostro di Santa Chiara, and of course il Duomo the Cathedral Santa Maria Assunta.
If there's one thing you must do in Napoli, it's try the pizza. Pizza began in Naples and you can visit the original pizza shop Gino e Toto Sorbillo. It was a mob scene when I visited, so we went to a shop nearby called Pizzeria Decumani and it was amazing (this coming from someone who wouldn't categorize herself as a "pizza person").
Naples has plenty of other great food too. Stop by any honest looking Hosteria (avoid the tourist traps with pictures on the menu) in the side streets off of Via Toledo to try the local specialties. We had a wonderful meal and experience at Hosteria Toledo. Also be sure to try the sfogliatella (a speciality of the region), a breakfast pastry to have with your morning coffee. Most any local bakery or cafe will have them. Also be sure to try the gelato at Casa Infante, my favorite in Naples and second favorite in Italy.
Speaking of coffee, make sure that you also have a few cappucinos or shots of espresso in Naples. Naples is known for its coffee. There is a third wave coffee shop in Naples (Australian/American style specialty coffee) called Ventimetriquadri, that we unfortunately didn't make it to during our trip, but I'd love to visit next time. We had a great espresso at a shop called Anhelo off of Via San Biagio Dei Librei. And there's a coffee shop in the bottom of Chiostro di Santa Chiara that looked wonderful as well.
This should be enough to get your started on your trip to Naples. I hope that you discover a warm and genuine city that continues to charm you, even after you've left.
If you have anything to add to the list or favorites that you discovered during your trip, leave it in the comments below.