Where to Stay
As a surprise for my birthday Richard booked us a 6 night stay in Naples at the UNA Hotel Napoli. This hotel is very well located within the Piazza Giuseppe Garibaldi, right by the central train station for Naples.
Arrival and Departure
We had return flights to Naples International Airport and we chose to take a taxi to and from there to our hotel. There are other options that will be cheaper, train, bus etc. but take a taxi especially if you have never been to the city before. The experience will be worth the additional euros for most people and will reassure you the decision not to rent a car was the best one – you will not see an intact car in the city.
In Naples everybody goes, typical highway rules we’re use to don’t seem to apply and it takes some getting use to. Whether you’re walking or in a car it’s typical for the red lights to almost be ignored completely. Get use to crossing the street with groups of people even if the green man is not lit and at the same time if it is don’t be surprised if cars continue to drive across the pedestrian crossing. Be confident and follow what the locals do.
What to See
Naples is often overlooked as a holiday destination, a mistake I think as it’s my favourite Italian city and the Campania region is one of the most picturesque in Europe. Founded in 470 B.C. Naples is one of the oldest cities in Europe and the Historic Centre of Naples makes the UNESCO World Heritage List. Within easy reach for day trips are two further UNESCO sites, the Amalfi Coast and the Archaeological Areas of Pompei, Herculaneum and Torre Annunziata (Villa Oplontis).
Although Naples is a large city for the most part it’s very walkable and this is the best way to see the diversity the city has to offer. When your feet get tired take the metro, it’s easy to use and very cheap at 1.10 euro per single journey.
Municipio metro station is closest to the harbour area where you can visit some of the old town main sites, Castel Nuovo, Piazza del Plebiscito, Piazza Trieste e Trento and many more.
If you want a break from the hustle and bustle of the centre make your way up the hill to Vomero. You can take the metro and the stop you want is Vanvitelli. This area has a more relaxed vibe to it and feels less crowded than the city centre, the pedestrianised zones assist with this.
While you’re on the hill don’t miss your chance to get one of the best views of the city which is from the area around and inside Castel Sant’Elmo. It is worth going into the fortress where you can get an even greater view of the city with Vesuvius in the background.
Near Castel Sant’Elmo you can take the funicular back down the hill from Morghen station. We mistakenly got off a stop early at Corso V. Emanuele which meant quite a steep walk to avoid this stay on until Montesanto station.
Allocate plenty of time just to walk around the city. There are plenty of alleyways and side streets to explore and you never know what you might find. Chiesa del Gesù Nuovo is a prime example of this, we were walking past and it looked like nothing and had the door not been open we would never had gone in.
What to Eat
Not only are there lots of historical sights near the harbour to see and although it’s quite touristy, there is good food to try! We picked up some Cannoli’s and Babà’s from the bakery section in Gran Caffè Gambrinus which were delicious.
Nearby we also tried pizza from Pizzeria Brandi. I had the ham pizza and Richard had the margarita, both were great. Don’t let reviews of this pizzeria saying it’s touristy put you off, yes it’s in a “tourist” area but it has been there for over 100 years! How can you get more authentic than that?
Again great Pizza can be found here, but you have to look a bit harder for it, there is definitely a cafe culture in this part of the city and it’s easy to find sandwiches and such. We had lunch at the Pizzeria Ristorante Gorizia 1916 which is not far from Vanvitelli station but not on the pedestrianised area. It was very busy but we were served quickly.
They do a bizarre pizza here and I had to try it, wurtzel and patatine fritte pizza, basically sausage and french fries on a pizza. I’ve seen it on a couple of other menus since and although I wouldn’t order it again it was alright! If you’re just in Naples for a short time don’t get this but if you’re there a while or are likely to go back and want something different then why not give it a go?
I haven’t mentioned gelato yet, you can get gelato just about everywhere and nowhere that we tried was less than perfect, the nearest gelato shop to where you are will most likely be selling the best ice cream you’ve ever had. Near the Chiesa del Gesù Nuovo is a gelato shop with an odd name that we tried, Gay Odin, and of course the gelato was great!
So if you get the chance to visit Naples make sure you take it! You will not be disappointed, it’s still my favourite Italian city and situated in the best region with lots to explore nearby. Try the pizza, the gelato, the limoncello and of course the pasta. Walk down the side streets and get to know the real Naples. I’m not sure when we’ll be back again but I can’t wait!
What’s your favourite city in Italy? Do you have a must try food or drink when you’re there?