Naples is the third largest city in Italy and one of vast contrast. On one hand, I saw a city that has taken advantage of its bayside location and built extensively around it with luxury hotels, water glittering with cruise ships, and a promenade filled with nice bars, restaurants and lemonade stands. There are some stunning views and building architecture that would give Rome a run for its money. On the other hand, away from the bay, it’s a city that is still rough around the edges, meaning still developing and a tad seedy. A positive side to this however, is there aren’t many tourists around so there is overall a more genuine feel about the city.
What Naples does take seriously is pizza. There are a few basic rules with the pizza of Naples. It must be cooked in wood burning brick ovens. The crust must be soft and light, thus the dough is made the day before it’s used allowing time for the yeast to rise. The pizza makers must be masters in their profession, which requires 2-3 years of apprenticeship experience. Told you – pizza is serious business.
Other than my highlight of pizza gluttony, having the opportunity to visit Pompeii the lost city that I’ve read so much about, was incredible. We were off to a rocky start in the morning since, being us, we bought train tickets to the wrong Pompeii station (being the modern Pomepeii city, called ‘Pompei’) instead of to the Pompeii ruins called ‘Pompeii scavi’. The wrong station is about a 15-20 minute walk to the ruins which isn’t a disaster, but inconvenient nonetheless since there was so much to see in one day. Walking into the ruins itself is like stepping back in time. Pompeii is frozen in 79AD when the volcano erupted and buried the city with its inhabitants. Walking down the streets and seeing these slices of ancient Roman life, including the apprehension when walking up to the glass exhibition where Pompeii’s victims are lying as a stone figure covered in ash, is an unreal experience.
Visiting the ruins of Pompeii was great, but climbing to the top of Mt. Vesuvius, the only active volcano in Europe was extraordinary! The hike to the mountain is quite steep, so shoes with good grip soles would be recommended, but the view will make you forget the sweat drops and short breaths (especially in AY’s case) of getting up there. The volcano blows out smoke since it’s active. Had to remind myself multiple times that it was real and not a movie.
- Pompeii: as described and pictured above, and don’t miss seeing Vesuvius. There is a cheap shuttle bus option (6 euro return) that you can get information for at the Pompeii ruins ticket office. The bus drives to and from the mountain 3 times a day and it’s about a 20-30 minute journey each way.
- Museo Cappella Sansevero (Sansevero Chapel Museum): The audioguide that accompanies this museum is the best audioguide I’ve listened to. It’s informative, factual, guides your eyes to different section of the museum while it tells you stories about it. I’m not sure why, but no photos are allowed to be taken in the museum. I’m also not sure why, but I hadn’t heard of this museum before even though the artwork inside, through its creativity, family values and mystery, caught my attention and awe more than any other museum I’d visited in Italy. It’s a small museum, but jam packed with detail and ingenuity. Entrance is 8 euro, or 5 euro if you’re under 25. They don’t check ID if you say you’re 25. I know this because…
- Naples Bay: Stroll along to enjoy the scenery, lively atmosphere and teenagers dipping in the water.
- Da Michele: They only do 2 pizzas – margarita and marinara, but they were the best pizzas I’ve ever eaten. Upon recommendation by my dearest Mo (@ theeleventhcolumn.wordpress.com), I’m convinced they may make the best pizzas you can find on this planet. A very no-frills restaurant where tables are shared with others and customer service is non-existent. We expected to wait in line for a while, but when we arrived at 6:30pm or so on a weekday, the restaurant was only half-filled so we got a seat straight away. I’m salivating now thinking about the pizza there. Must move on.
- Casa Infante: Artisan gelato! Rates as my equal first gelato favourites as Florence. I chose banana and chocolate chip, which may not be to everyone’s taste and not all that compatible now that I think about it. They know how to gelato.
- Palazzo Petrucci Restaurant: A michelin star restaurant experience that is second to none. It is the fanciest restaurant I’ve been to and they really don’t cut any corners in terms of customer experience. May not suit everyone’s budget, but if you have a special occasion coming up this is a definite winner and easy to book over email. I was honoured to be part of AY’s anniversary dinner.
I can’t stop thinking about that pizza.