You do not have to evade Napoli … It is an interesting place of magnificent historic
heritage, and please bear in mind that most Neapolitans are really friendly!
People constantly shun Napoli due to its miserable reputation of being filthy, unsafe, and related to the mafia. Unfortunately, in many ways it is still like this, but Napoli is in constant struggle against these problems. Once there, just keep an eye out, be aware that it might look a bit shabby, and – only then – you will not regret being in this unique city.
During this trip, we first visited Napoli and then attached a few days to tour Sorrento, Capri, and the Amalfi Coast. This sneak peak is exclusively on Napoli. I will describe the rest of the route in another write up.
Day 1 – We checked in at Micalò, our B&B in the Chiaia district overlooking the Bay of Naples, and started exploring Napoli in the Galleria Borbonica. Through this post you will realize that there are plenty of history lessons in the subterranean areas of this city.
A short walk along the seaside to find the Castel dell’Ovo.
Only a few steps away we turned up at the Piazza del Plebiscito.
We stopped there for an aperitif at the — with all respect — ‘old-fashioned’ Caffè Gambrinus. I also had to try a sfogliatella, a typical Neapolitan sweet pastry – yummy!
For dinner I had booked at Umberto. A very nice restaurant serving traditional Neapolitan cuisine, appreciated by tourists but also by locals. By the way, this year they are celebrating their 100th anniversary — buon anniversario! The restaurant is conveniently located in the Chiaia. This was the first time I was handed out an iPad to select the wine …
If you like mozzarella di bufala, this is the place to order it. You get it here by half a kilo! Their main is seafood, but they have also excellent pasta dishes and, of course, pizza.
We liked it so much at Umberto that we returned to try their pizza. I was so excited about it that it was finished before I could take a picture …
Tip: The Chiaia is a good area to stroll around if you are interested in fashion stores.
Day 2 – We spent an unforgettable day in Pompeii (40-Km drive). It was an incredible experience to visit this stunning, ancient, Roman commercial town, buried together with the holiday resort of Herculaneum and other Vesuvian villas (like Villa Poppaea, owned by Emperor Nero) in AD 79 by the eruption of Monte Vesuvio.
Day 3 – Not having enough of Roman ruins, the next morning we visited Herculaneum (17-Km drive). The mosaics and frescoes here are just exquisite.
Cucumas Shop with painted sign, depicting four pitchers, listing the price of wine
Back in Napoli, we took the funicular (cable car) to get to Vomero, Napoli’s district on the hill, to enjoy a panoramic view.
Now from the top of the hill to the underground again, but this time to the modern one. Take metro Lines 1 and 6, and you will be able to see the Metro Art Stations, definitively, worthwhile the ride.
Strolling in the historic center of Napoli.
Very close to the Stazione Centrale (Central Station) we found Pizzeria Da Michele (1870), considered among the oldest in Napoli and which — I reckon — has also the longest queues! I may stand in a queue for one hour to see Pompeii, but certainly not for a slice of pizza. Perhaps your love for pizza is greater than mine — let me know.
At Piazza San Domenico Maggiore, in the heart of the historic center, we treated ourselves with a delicious aperitif at Jamón, a tiny deli place with a small bar and a few tables, perfect for a good glass of wine, artisan beer, and appetizers (prosciutto, salami, cheese from the best producers). Our host, who was a one-man show, was really friendly and recommended us two other restaurants belonging to the same group: Anhelo and Buona Merenda. We found Jamón so good, that we decided to try the other two suggestions as well (see Day 4).
Located in the same Piazza San Domenico Maggiore was Palazzo Petrucci Ristorante — note that it has now moved to Via Posillipo 16/c. This restaurant was the first one in Napoli to achieve a Michelin star. The original location in the old town keeps running now as Pizzeria Palazzo Petrucci.
Each dish at the Palazzo Petrucci Ristorante was tasty, and especially the first courses were originally innovative.
Stracotto di Maiale – Crudo Mare e Terra -Spaghettone Alici – Pescato del Giorno
The wine was a Nero 2009 Conti Zecca. Check my Foodie Route An Enchanting Getaway to Puglia, the Fertile High Heel of Italy for details on Conti Zecca.
Day 4 – Morning at the museum: Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli. This is a must, being one of the best archaeological museums in Italy. You can see here, among others, all the artifacts that were found in Pompeii and Herculaneum. What I liked the most were the mosaics found in Pompeii, dating 100 BC! Metro M-1 (Museo) or M-2 (Cavour)
In the heart of the old center, 40 m below the street level, we undertook another tour: Napoli Sotterranea (Naples Underground), this is where the history of Napoli started 2,400 years ago.
Continuing with the underground experience, we visited the ruins of the ancient Greek-Roman market that is beneath the Church of San Lorenzo Maggiore. In the historic center you will be able to find not only Roman but also older Greek ruins. If you are interested in Greek temples and ruins, you can take a day-trip to Paestum.
We had a quick lunch at Buona Merenda (5-min walk), one of the places that our host from Jamón had recommended us the day before. Funny enough he was there on duty and treated us like good old friends. He prepared for us gorgeous sandwiches and coffees with great home-roasted beans. We also took some coffee home.
After the break, we walked 5 min to the Museo Cappella Sansevero to admire The Veiled Christ (G. Sanmartino, 1753), a dramatic, marble masterpiece. Then, 5-min away the Church of Gesù Nuovo with its unusual stone façade. Napoli at its best!
Before returning to our hotel, we stopped for a coffee at the Intra Moenia Caffè Letterario (5-min walk), located in the Piazza Bellini, a buzzy hangout where students like to hit the town by night. Neapolitan coffee is so good, and this is a statement accepted by most Italians. Check this interesting article The Coffee Cultures of Naples, Fresh Cup Magazine.
In the evening we went to Anhelo, which was conveniently located a 20-min walk from our hotel, in an area full of very nice stores. This was the third tip our good friend from Jamón had given us. By the way, visit this post Napoli, Jamon: tapas e freselle a Piazza San Domenico Maggiore, Luciano Pignataro WineBlog. You will also see there our friend Gianpiero! We enjoyed our last night in Napoli at Anhelo, with a good glass of wine and some tapas.
We had four different, fantastic days in Napoli. A city that you will either love or hate … I am glad that I am for the first!
4 thoughts on “Curious in Napoli (Naples)”
Wonderful reading, thank you for all your tips! I was there some years ago and I must say that I tried there the most delicious Mozzarella di Buffala that I have ever tasted.
Avoid carrying anything of value, I had a bad experience. Otherwise I agree that it is an interesting spot.
Looking forward to next Wednesday! Have a good week!
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Cristina, I’m sure that mozzarella was really good! I’ve seen so many people enjoying it in Southern Italy; a pity I can’t eat it.
As you said, one have to be careful with valuables … nowadays … where not?
Again, thanks for following!
I admire your adventurousness! José and I planned to explore Napoli, and at least get a slice of pizza there, but we felt so unsafe just walking the half block from the train station to the car rental that we decided to get out of there as quickly as possible! There is another dish, famous in the area, that the woman at the car rental suggested we try, she said it was better than pizza! I wish I could remember what it was…we went in search of it, but ended up on these one way streets going up and up and up and never found it…oh well, on to Sorrento!
Robin, you’ll have to go back to Napoli! The central station area looks run-down and unsafe, but look ‘.. If you check the crime statistics of American cities over 500,000 people (I did) and compare them to the crime statistics of Naples, you will discover that if Naples were in the US it would be the safest city of that size, except for Honolulu and San Jose.’