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Italy’s third-largest city is one of its oldest, most artistic and most appetising. Naples’ centro storico (historic centre) is a Unesco World Heritage Site, its archaeological treasures are among the world’s most important, and its swag of vainglorious palaces, castles and churches make Rome look positively provincial.
Then there’s the food. Blessed with rich volcanic soils, a bountiful sea, and centuries of culinary know-how, the Naples region is one of Italy’s epicurean heavyweights, serving up the country’s best pizza, pasta and coffee, and many of its most celebrated seafood dishes, street snacks and sweet treats.
Certainly, Naples’ urban sprawl can feel anarchic, tattered and unloved. But look beyond and you’ll uncover a city of breathtaking frescoes, sculptures and panoramas, of unexpected elegance, of spontaneous conversations and profound humanity.
The city dominates the Gulf of Naples, expanding from the Sorrentine Peninsula to the volcanic area of the Phlegraean Fields. It offers an extremely evocative vista of not only the imposing Vesuvian mount but also the three magnificent islands of Capri, Ischia and Procida – three jewels that rise like Venus from the sea. In the immediate vicinity of Naples are numerous culturally and historically significant sites, including the Palace of Caserta and the Roman ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum.
Popular characters and historical figures who have come to symbolise the city include Januarius, the patron saint of Naples, the comic figure Pulcinella, and the Sirens from the Greek epic poem the Odyssey.
The Naples International Airport, Capodichino Airport, is the largest airport in southern Italy with national and international flights
The city’s main railway station is Napoli Centrale, which is located in Piazza Garibaldi; other significant stations include the Napoli Campi Flegrei,in the north, and Napoli Mergellina close to the molo of the same name, in the central area.
A1 (autostrada del sole) the longest motorway in Italy, links Naples to Milan
A3 from Salerno - Reggio Calabria
A16 from Avellino and Benevento
A14 - A16 from Bari
The port of Naples runs several public ferry, hydrofoil and catamaran services, linking numerous locations including Capri, Ischia, Sorrento, Salerno, Positano and Amalfi. Services are also available to destinations further afield, such as Sicily, Sardinia, Ponza and the Aeolian Islands
what to see....
The artistic treasure of Naples to visit are, in fact, to many to count: the historical centre, a patrimony under the tutelage of UNESCO, the palaces, churches, catacombs and underground passageways, the Archaeological Museum, the places of medieval and renaissance power amassed around the Castel Nuovo and Royal Palace, the unforgettable waterfront from Castel dell’Ovo to Posillipo. The hilly area of Vomero offers masterfully restored buildings like the Capodimonte Royal Palace and the Certosa (monastery) of San Martino, museum collections amongst the most important in the world. A trip through the twentieth century city takes you, among the notable urban and architectural sights, to the rationalist Mostra d’Oltremare, with its park, sports complex and exhibition space. Science is also witness to the recovery of industrial archaeological complexes and the originality of a scientific tradition that renews itself. Unusual and surprising is the exploration of the new homes of contemporary art: monumental structures like the PAN, Palazzo delle Arti Napoli, the MADRE, Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Donnaregina, and the unique artistry of the metro stations that evidence the original horizons of farseeing cultural politics.
what to visit....
Naples is a wonderful city immersed in a territory with many attractions and beauties. From here you can discover the famous archaeological sites of Pompeii, Herculaneum, Oplontis, Roman cities buried by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD. A climb to the cone of Mount Vesuvius will give you a view of the whole Gulf perhaps with a stop in a farm to enjoy the “Lacrima cristi” wine produced along the slopes. Caserta welcomes you with its Royal Palace, the Italian Versailles, the Park and English Gardens. Just west of Naples is the city’s best-kept secret, the volcanic land known as the Campi Flegrei (meaning ‘burning fields’). See bubbling mud pits and steaming fumaroles at the Solfatara Crater and wander the remarkably preserved underground passageways of the Flavian Amphitheatre. Visit Greek ruins at Cuma, the remains of a Roman seaside resort at Baia with a glass bottom boat ride at underwater archaeological area. The sun-kissed town of Sorrento radiates old world charm and the Amalfi Coast, a true jewel of the Mediterranean. The Gulf Islands: the enchanting Capri, the green Ischia, the Little pastel-colored Procida. And... Capua, Caserta vecchia, San Leucio, Benevento, Paestum, Salerno, Formia, Gaeta, & Sperlonga
what to eat....
Naples is traditionally credited as the home of pizza, the most famous is the “Margherita” made with San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella fior di latte, fresh basil, salt and extra-virgin olive oil.
Spaghetti with the sauce ragù; Parmigiana di melanzane, spaghetti alle vongole, casatiello, numerous seafood dishes, including impepata di cozze (peppered mussels), purpetiello affogato (octopus poached in broth), alici marinate (marinated anchovies), baccalà alla napoletana (salt cod) and baccalà fritto (fried cod).
As sweet dishes: zeppole, babà, sfogliatelle, pastiera (especially for Easter celebrations), struffoli, a sweet-tasting honey dough decorated and eaten around Christmas. Neapolitan coffee, espresso, is also widely acclaimed. Wineries in the Vesuvius area produce wines such as the Lacryma Christi and Terzigno. Naples is also the home of limoncello, a popular lemon liqueur. The nutritional value of the napolitan cuisine is often mentioned by epidemiologists as one of the best examples of the Mediterranean diet. Don’t forget street food ... with fried pizza, “calzoni”, the “Cupputiello” with fish fries, chips, crocchè, arancini, etc...
what to buy...
Naples is the paradise for shopping, here you can find everything from fashion to gastronomy, crafts to great boutiques, local products to international ones.
In Via Toledo (or “Via Roma”), one of the longest shopping street in Naples, you find numerous boutiques, a department store, and branches of big chains. At the Piazza Trieste e Trento you find the elegant Café Gambrinus in the Belle Èpoque style, when you look at the long counter with dolci (cake and pastries), it will be hard to choose: You should definitely try a sfogliatella!
Via San Gregorio Armeno, the street of the nativity scene makers, they produce wonderful nativity figurines, and in the alleyways of the historic city, you can find many antiques dealers.
In the small streets you can find beautiful ceramic from the Amalfi Coast in bright colours and the handmade nativity figurines in Via San Gregorio Armeno.
The markets a colourful mixture of clothes fluttering in the wind, fresh vegetables, fruits and fish, designer fashion, as well as second-hand clothes.