According to wholevehicles.com, Naples has a dubious reputation as the dirtiest and most thieving city in Italy. But at the same time, it is one of the most beautiful cities in the country with baroque churches, luxurious palaces and unique museums. In fact, Naples is an explosive mixture of paradoxes and contradictions, architectural masterpieces, bustling markets, sclerotic streets, pickpockets, bel canto, religious fervor, roaring motorinos and chic boutiques.
According to Homer, Naples arose on the spot where the waves carried the body of the siren Parthenope. She threw herself into the sea when Odysseus safely passed the rocks, not tempted by her singing.
The city in the shadow of Vesuvius used to live, literally, like on a volcano. It descends in terraces from the castle of Sant’Elmo to the blue bowl of the Gulf of Naples. A favorite place for evening walks of local residents is Partenope Street, which runs along the bay, lined with expensive hotels. Closer to midnight, the noisy Neapolitan party moves to Piazza Trieste e Trento, the center of the city’s nightlife with many nightclubs and discos. And yet, the true soul of Naples can only be felt in its historic center, entirely inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
It is unlikely that somewhere you can spend money faster than in the Umberto I shopping gallery, like two drops of water similar to its Milanese twin sister. And even if shopping is not included in your plans, it is still worth coming here to admire the interiors.
You will find world fashion giants Prada, Louis Vuitton, Versace, Ferragamo, Armani on Calabritto Street. Via dei Mille and Gaetano Filangi have the same alluring names and one showcase is more beautiful than the other: Hermes, Frette, Mariano Rubinacci, Bulgari.
Via Toledo – the longest stall in Naples – 3 km. This is an ordinary shopping street for ordinary people, as well as Via Chiaia – another street with mass-brand stores, affordable prices and an emphasis on youth fashion.
The most tempting place for inveterate shopaholics is the Neapolitan outlets, where year-round discounts start from 30% and peak during the sales season. The largest of them La Reggia Designer, Centro Commerciale Campania and Vulcano Buono are located in the suburbs of Naples.
In addition to high-quality clothing, ceramics, thermal cosmetics from Ischia, handmade presepe dolls, Pulcinella figurines, the character of Commedia dell’arte and the symbol of the city, are brought from Naples. Cameos on shells, onyx or coral are good, but not cheap. A popular souvenir is Limoncello liqueur (about 10 EUR) and huge lemons for 3-4 EUR each.
On a Sunday, check out the picturesque antique market on Via Caracciolo. Despite the anarchy and utter confusion, this is one of the best antique markets in Southern Italy.
What to try
The role of the first violin in the Neapolitan cuisine, of course, belongs to pizza. And how could it be otherwise, because Naples is the birthplace of this famous dish, which has flooded the rest of the world with Italian ease. A classic of the genre is Margherita pizza with tomatoes, mozzarella and basil, giving it the colors of the national flag. It was she who, according to the film “Eat, Pray, Love”, helped to perk up the heroine of Julia Roberts.
Like all Italians, Neapolitans idolize pasta in all its forms. A local culinary highlight is spaghetti with a spicy putanesca sauce based on olive oil, garlic and chili peppers. Another truly Neapolitan dish is caprese ravioli. They are filled with Capri soft cheese, parmesan, eggs and served with ripe tomato and basil sauce.
Sfogliatella, a typical Neapolitan dessert, is a puff pastry made from the finest dough with a sweet filling of ricotta, cinnamon and citrus fruits. It competes with chocolate-almond cake “Caprese” and a local variety of rum baba – muffins soaked in liquor and filled with ricotta, whipped cream, fruit, chocolate paste.
A great addition to the local cuisine is the white wine Lacrima Christi, made from grapes grown on the volcanic soils of the slopes of Vesuvius. As a digestif, a variety of citrus-based liqueurs are preferred here.
Cafes and restaurants in Naples
You have to try hard to stay hungry among the many Neapolitan restaurants, trattorias, osterias, pizzerias, pastry shops and other fast food establishments. In the evening, a table in a popular restaurant should be booked in advance; dinner will cost 40-50 EUR per person. Trattorias and osterias are more democratic, the average check is quite within 20-30 EUR. But even they are far from Neapolitan pizzerias, where pizza from a wood-fired oven costs only 4-10 EUR, and drinks – 2 EUR. They say that there are more than a thousand pizzerias in Naples, and it is they who solve an important task – to prevent the inhabitants of the city and its guests from feeling the pangs of hunger. In addition, pizzerias are open from 11:00 to 23:00. True, many of them do not work on Sundays.
Popular Neapolitan establishments for those who want to eat on the go are frigitoria, which are especially numerous in the historic center. All the food in them is meatballs and deep-fried balls of mashed potatoes with ham, cheese and seasonings in batter. Any dish on the menu costs no more than 5 EUR.
It is worth pampering yourself by visiting one of the Neapolitan confectioneries, where, in addition to cakes and pastries, you will definitely be offered the famous Neapolitan coffee – very strong, very hot and, like nowhere else, very sweet. Such a “pit stop” will cost no more than 10 EUR.
The climate of Naples is typically Mediterranean with mild, wet winters and hot summers. April and the first half of May are the best time for sightseeing. In June, the thermometer quickly approaches +30 ° C. In July and August, the city literally melts from the heat, there are almost no cloudy days, the beach season is in full swing, sightseeing is akin to a feat.
In September, the temperature drops, in October, the arrival of autumn is felt, the sea begins to storm, the weather is ideal for walking around the city. November is still comfortable.
Winter comes with fogs and rains, strong winds are possible. The coldest month is February In March, the weather changes. Blooming crocuses and mimosa remind of the arrival of spring.