Ciao Naples! again…
On a spur of the moment, we decided to have a celebratory weekend away for our wedding anniversary and Naples seemed like an obvious choice. I was really looking forward to our return visit to the Bay of Naples. To be honest our last visit to Naples 17 years ago was not a memorable one. I remember shabby and derelict buildings and streets you would not want to get lost in at night. We decided to give it another try as we wanted to revisit our honeymoon spots of Sorrento and Capri and Naples seemed as an ideal base.
A Room With A View
I have to admit it was a nice surprise and I think it was down to the hotel and the area we stayed in. Our hotel, the Royal Continental, was right on the promenade (via Partenope) overlooking Castel dell’Ovo and the Bay of Naples. The view from the balcony was absolutely stunning and I would definitely recommend paying a little bit extra just for this.
We were in the Chiaia district, near Castel Nuovo and via Toledo which are close to the sea and the ferry terminal. This area is also a more elegant and cleaner one with designer shops and nice cafes. There are numerous historical buildings that can be explored here: Castel dell’Ovo which offers beautiful views to the city; Piazza Plebiscito which is a complete juxtaposition to the narrow and warrenlike streets of Naples; Castel Nuovo or Galleria Umberto, a glass roofed 19th shopping centre. Basically, something for everyone.
We did not have much time to explore this area much but it is fair to say, there is a huge contrast between this district and the area described before. The historic centre is the oldest part of Naples, founded by the Greeks and currently one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
There is definitely a different feel to this part of the city. Despite tourists’ eyes feasting on buildings so rich in history, displaying fine examples of art and of religious significance, it is hard not to notice the more run down aspect of this place. The streets are lined with buildings that are obviously very old and in desperate need of a facelift. This is where you see the iconic washing hanging outside the windows but also plaster coming off the walls, graffiti and it does feel more claustrophobic walking down the narrow streets.
Up Above The City In Vomero
Catching the funicular (Funiculare Centrale) to the Vomero District is another thing I would recommend. Villa Floridiana is just a short walking distance from the funicular. It is a beautiful villa set in a tranquil and leafy park filled with pine trees and cypresses which has been turned into a museum now. The garden offers amazing and scenic views over the city and the Bay and the whole setting is ideal for reflection and a bit of down time. There is even has a fountain with lots of turtles and fish which was quite an attraction.
Last But Not Least… FOOD!
As Italy is famous for its delicious food, I had to name just a few Campanian delicacies that we tried on our trip. Firstly, you need to try the pizza fritta at Sorbillo. It is a famous fried pizza with a choice of prosciutto, riccota and tomato sauce filling. It is delicious and the constant queues outside this family- run business just prove how good it is.
Another food to try is sfogliatella. It is a kind of sweet pastry made of overlapping filo pastry and filled with riccota flavoured with orange or lemon peel and vanilla. The best place to get them is at Scaturchio in the Centro Storico. I have to admit I got quite addicted to them…
Naples Dos And Don’ts
Definitely visit the city… It is full of history and a great base to discover the islands of Capri and Ischia, Vesuvius and the whole of the Amalfi Coast. I would recommend staying on the seafront which is picturesque, clean and safer than the areas further up north. Do watch the traffic. It is mad and nobody will stop for you unless you make the first move – just be careful! Do try the local pizza fritta but don’t forget the seafood which is obviously in abundance here. Don’t try to visit all the churches, not sure this is possible! And don’t worry if you have not planned your trip, there is something for everybody here. Grab an espresso and do a bit of people watching. Take in the vibrant colours and the size of lemons, the colours of the sea and the buildings around you. Or take a dip in the sea. Naples is your oyster.
More pictures here