Daydreaming about visiting a city with beauty and a historic flair? Looking to investigate the birthplace of pizza? Or do you just want to go for a swim on some volcanic beaches? Napoli has all of this to offer you and more. Still not convinced? Take a look below to see why this is the Italian city you don’t want to miss.
The ingredients in Italy are so fresh and high quality it doesn’t surprise that the main courses are to die for. I remember eating a white peach in Napoli and quietly thinking to myself it was the juiciest and most flavourful piece of fruit I’d ever tasted.
Napoli of course is the city of pizza. Since pizza was invented here you can’t go through your trip without stopping for at least one piece. The best place in the city is Gino e Toto Sorbillo, but don’t expect the fast-food-style Americanized pizza you’re used to. This pizza is baked soft with fresh tomato and mozzarella and the cleanest way to eat it is actually with a knife and fork. However, the texture of the pizza doesn’t take away from the deliciousness, as my hostel host said it’s just a “different dish.”
There is a street, Via S. Sebastiano, near the Dante Metro Station, where you can find 20 lively and exciting bars/clubs in a five-block radius. I especially enjoyed this street because of the outdoor drinking culture. You can snag a place outside the most appealing (or cheapest) place available and enjoy the cozy atmosphere of the city with locals passing by and engaging you in conversation. This is the best place to go and make plans for the following day because you can get some awesome recommendations from the locals and then put them to the test.
An alternative to Sebastiano is to buy an Aperol spritz and take an evening stroll along the Mediterranean. The coast in the city is gorgeous and has many pop-up shops along the way where you can purchase a cold beverage.
When taking a ferry up Italy’s Amalfi coast it’s important to ask yourself what is shinier; the dazzling sun bouncing off the ocean, or the light rays beaming from the town’s white stone cliffs. There is a boat that will take you from Sorrento up the Amalfi Coast all the way to the village of Amalfi. From there you can stretch out a towel on the rocky, volcanic beach or jump right back into the ocean to explore the sea caves nearby. Just be careful of the current! After you finish on the beach take the epic climb up through the city’s painted streets and catch the bus back to Sorrento. I recommend not eating or drinking too much before the bus ride because it takes place on what is little more than a goat path through winding mountains, not fun for a weak stomach.
Big history fan? Why not visit a city frozen in time? After Vesuvius erupted over a thousand years ago it preserved this ancient roman metropolis for the study and appreciation of visitors from around the world. See ancient Roman architecture as you’ve never seen it before and feel like a resident of the ancient city as you explore its complex streets and infrastructure complete with bars, baths and brothels. I highly recommend getting a guide or at least an audio tour for your trip here because you would miss out on the true story by being uninformed.
If you don’t have time to do a full day trip to Pompeii, there is another ruin close to Napoli called Ercolano. It is even better preserved than Pompeii (just a lot smaller) because it was even closer to Vesuvius when it erupted and was covered in ash within seconds. The site still has some of the original wood from that era. Bring plenty of water for either or both sites as the sun can be punishing and most of the area is open air.
The History & Museums
When you walk through Napoli’s crowded and intricate streets you feel the artistic complexity of the Renaissance, the sheer brutality of the middle ages, and even the stoic luxury of Roman times. The city and surrounding areas are filled with landmarks and ruins from all these periods and more. Beyond that, the museums in Napoli are fascinating. You can find a museum in an old church/convent where Roman ruins were found underneath. Take the tour to explore the catacombs which were also used as bunkers during WWII and learn about the way the Romans lived in their close-knit society. If you want to see some of the most visually perplexing and impressive art Italy has to offer then you must stop at the Cappella San Severo. The sculptures here have mind-boggling detail and meticulous design which will leave you staring at them for longer than expected.
Just off the coast of Napoli is a gorgeous island to complete your vacation. Take a boat from the docks in the city and be transported to fabulous limestone cliffs, painted houses, ancient overlooks, and much more.
Once on the island, renting a scooter is the most convenient way to get around. You can take a boat tour to the Blue Grotto, a sea cave that glows with a blue light due to reflections from the sun. Or, catch some more ruins by hiking up to the Village of Tiberius, a famous Roman Emperor.
If you’re really into hiking, the Phonecian Steps offer a new challenge (all 921 of them) just like the people of history did hundreds of years ago. At the top you will find a beautiful town that attracts the jet-set crowd for it’s array of designer shops and high-end bars and restaurants.
Beyond all that it’s also an option to just chill on the beach and soak up the sun with some lovely Italian wine. Capri has everything. It’s up to you what you want to do first.