Italy is a wonder and I say that because of its historical heritage, arts and culture, spectacular cities, dream-like beaches and imposing mountains. I say that also because yes, Italy is undoubtedly a complex country that definitely made its mark. You probably might not know but it actually has more historical sites than any other country in the world! From the Nordic Piemonte, Aosta Valley, down to the coastal Liguria, Toscana, Puglia, Calabria and Campania – it is a real spectacle to actually observe how the different dialects, cuisine and ways of living are joined together into such an enriching Bouchet. Out of all these, I definitely had to drop some lines about the one and the only – Napoli – the third biggest city and also a place that is so close to my heart. I promise you should consider paying a visit! It is a bit like they say about India – you either love it or hate it – as it still holds a strong connection with Mafia, high criminality and chaos – but there is much, much more than that. Therefore, below I will share some of the main things I have enjoyed the last time I was here.
Mount Vesuvius and the National Archeological Museum
Mostly wherever you go in Napoli, you cannot miss the imposing Mt. Vesuvius and immediately Pompeii will come to mind. Definitely worth a visit for itself, when I visited Pompeii I was actually blown away by its silent and shocking imprint. So keep that in mind, and when in the city, you can go visit the National Archeological Museum, where all the treasures from Pompeii are in the exhibition. Probably one of the most impressive museums of this kind.
It is basically the moment when you find yourself in this big piazza where lies the Royal Palace – a museum and historical touristic site which makes you want to stop and to internalise everything. It is a place of encounter where street music, jogglers and photographers gather – to catch the grandiose place where prominent rulers of Napoli have resided.
Did you know that in ancient times, Napoli used to be called 'the city of the seven castles'? There is Castel Nuovo, Castel Sant'Elmo, Castel Capuano, Castello del Carmine, Castello di Nisida, Forte di Vigliena and finally, the romantic Castel dell'Ovo. You wouldn't have expected that from a city like Napoli, would you? But of course you will not have time to see them all if your stay will be short, so I recommend you see the Castel Sant'Elmo, a fortress overlooking the city built in medieval times. Inside is the Novecento Museum, but also where cultural events and art exhibitions take place. This is the place if you want to have the picture-perfect shot of the city – and just for you to know, if you are not interested in the events or the museum, you can easily explore its terraces and walkways free of charge!
Returning from Castel Sant'Elmo and on your way to via Toledo, you will stumble upon these numerous narrow, colourful streets, parallel to each other and filled with life. The real Napoli – used to be housing the Spanish Garissons in the 16th century, this part of the city is now considered to have a high rate of criminality. However, the high unemployment, prostitution and Camorra's influence didn't change my mind – I still walked these streets and tried not to be too bothering when taking pictures. It is a place that inspires and where you see the real beauty, the real authenticity of Napoli.
After the long walk along the Spanish Quarter, you will find yourself on the via Toledo. You will be in a crazy need for ice-cream – gelato. Do not pass by Menella – this is one of the oldest places that produce ice-cream in Napoli ( I had one every day I stayed here hehe). You might have to wait in the queue for a bit, but it is totally worth it (and add some /panna/ – its the real one!). Also, it was the biggest small size ice-cream I ever had!
Of course, I did not forget about the pizza – how could I? Napoli is THE homeplace of pizza, it is here that the first one was created and also – you cannot leave before you try the Pizza Margarita – a classic. Of course, there are lots of places that you might be drawn to try it, but generally, on Via dei Tribunali you would find a couple of good places to choose from. If you don't want to spend too much, you can always get one for 2,5 euros, enough to make you full and to look forward to some more 🙂
After exploring the city, the nourishing food and the refreshing gelato, feel free to treat yourself with a drink. Nights in Napoli are simply overwhelming. You might want to reach Piazza Dante in search for some clubs, and you will stumble upon so many pizzettas with street music and lots of people sitting around and sipping from their drinks in such a lively yet laid back atmosphere. At times I even observed that there were groups of youngsters that were making music and drinking their own – something like a midnight picnic – where you share your passion for life and music with the passers-by. If you would go for a little bit more privacy, you can always find a small bar, with good wine and a carefully selected playlist, where most probably you will find the waitress singing on the melodies of Nino d'Angelo, Aurelio Fierro or Raffaello. How wonderful are the streets of Napoli! I know that this is just a brief passage through Napoli, however, I hope that it gives you an incentive, a good enough base for you to pass by and experience it yourself, in your own way. Enjoy!