Dean Martin sang about a romantic encounter in Napoli and it’s easy to see why this city is so enchanting. Not only is Naples the third-largest municipality in Italy after Rome and Milan, but it is also one of the world’s oldest cities. Soaked in the Southern Italian sun and located near to the volcanic Mount Vesuvius, it’s not just the temperature that gets hot under the collar but also the passion and spice for life that the people of Naples have. Napoli is a fast-paced, vibrant place that contrasts with the city’s old-world feel and pulls it all together to produce a holiday destination you will love.
Thanks to the lovely warm climate and vast historical and artistic treasures, Naples has always been a popular destination for holidaymakers from all over the world. Being such a huge city it has plenty to offer the tourist and with the city trams and buses, it is an easy place to explore. It’s worth spending a few days to get a true flavour of the city so here are a few things to do when you visit Naples…
Enjoy great food in Naples
Being on the south-west coast of Italy Naples is a great place to visit if you enjoy fresh seafood. The traditional fish dishes are full of flavour with many delicious sauces based on garlic sauteed in olive oil, tomatoes, and local red wines. Most people enjoy a great Italian pizza. Not the kind of pizza that comes from the supermarket but a real Italian pizza cooked in a wood-burning oven. It’s said that Naples was the birthplace of the pizza and they have so many delicious recipes you could almost have pizza every night on your travels if it were not for the other tasty Italian food you can find in Naples. The classic Margherita pizza was actually named after Queen Margherita after her visit to Naples in 1889. It was designed with toppings that reflected the colours of the Italian flag with basil, mozzarella cheese and tomatoes for the red, white and green stripes. Spaghetti is also a popular dish in Naples, especially with ragu sauce. Neapolitans also love their sweet dishes and pastries, with their colourful gelato ice creams being a firm favourite with tourists thanks to one thing in particular – how good it tastes! Italian ice cream is something you really need to try.
Visit the Amalfi Coast
Famous for its infamous winding road, delightful seaside town and sumptuous food, the Amalfi Coast is well worth a visit if you are staying in Naples. Hire a car if you are feeling brave or grab a bus ride around the rocky roads of the Amalfi Coast and you will be treated to stunning views over the Mediterranean sea, beautiful towns and cities such as Sorrento, Positano and Ravello and some interesting driving by the local moped riders! You can even take a trip to one of the lovely islands nearby such as Capri and Ischia which make for a great day out. Don’t forget to try the fresh local seafood dishes, your taste buds will remember them for a long time!
Explore the churches of Naples
Naples is a very busy, bustling city full of vibrant piazzas and people full of life. You may find you need to take time out when exploring the delights of Naples’ city streets and there are not many better ways than by ducking into a cool, quiet church. With plenty of churches scattered around Naples, you won’t have any trouble finding a peaceful spot to relax in. The Duomo di Napoli (or ‘Cathedral of Naples’) is the main place of worship and is a real treat for the eyes with stunning architecture and rich frescoes hundreds of years old. It even includes mosaics from the 4th century. With Christianity playing an important role in the life of Naples residents it’s easy to see why there are so many churches in the city, and why they are so well looked after.
Delve beneath Naples
Thirty metres below the busy streets is a vast series of underground tunnels and caves which can be visited from the centre of Naples at Napoli Sotteranea. The expansive underground area was created by centuries of mining the geothermal zone which created an ideal building material called Tuff. Nowadays you can go and explore the underground tunnels with a travel guide if you don’t mind the dark, eerie atmosphere down there.
Go green in Naples
As a contradiction to the busy streets, there is another altogether green side to Naples. If you know where to look you can find some of the most beautiful parks and gardens in all of Italy. Try the Botanical gardens at Via Foria for a 30-acre haven of exotic plants and expansive gardens surrounded by giant walls. One of the most popular gardens is the Villa Comunale which was built in the 1780s by King Ferdinand. For a very special view try the Parco Virgiliano which looks out towards the volcanic island of Nisida. The views from here are really breathtaking so don’t forget your camera!
If you visit Naples, you must take a trip to the historic and spellbinding Pompeii and Vesuvius. Allow for at least three hours for walking around Pompeii – the archaeological ruins are something to behold. Everyone knows the story of what happened in AD 79 as the eruption obliterated Pompeii but to see the remains and people frozen in time as they tried to flee the volcano are something which takes time to digest. Pompeii is a stark reminder of how powerful Mother Nature can be. Vesuvius is the volcano in question and can be seen from the Bay of Naples as a towering and sleeping giant across the water. It lies dormant but authorities have said it could erupt any time. Maybe spend two hours there instead of three!
Being such a huge thriving city you can see why there is so much to do in Naples but hopefully, this quick guide will go some way to giving you inspiration for your visit. If you have been and want to mention anywhere we might have missed please drop us a note in the comments section, we’d love to hear from you.