Whether it is the first time you go to Italy and you want to travel the country or whether you have been there before and want to see something new, you probably know that Naples is one of the best places to visit.
The main city of the region of Campania in the south of Italy, Naples has been inhabited since the Bronze Age when Greek settlements were created there during the II millennium BC, making it a link between the Greek and Roman worlds in later centuries. The importance of the city throughout history did not diminish in passing years, however, as it became the capital of the Kingdom of Naples in 1282, the capital of the Kingdom of Two Sicilies in 1816 and remained such until the unification of Italy which took place in 1861.
But as important as its past is, what Naples is best known for is the way of life and friendliness of its inhabitants, the beauty of its countryside and sea and its great culinary tradition. It is for all these reasons that tourists flock to Naples whatever the season and therefore it is quite easy to find a place to stay. A good idea is to book a room in a comfortable B&B, which will offer you both privacy and the chance to spend time in a homier environment.
Once in Naples the things to see and do are endless. However, if you would like to avoid the usual tourist venues, here are a couple of tips on what to do and see.
Enjoy the food, Napoletana style
While all typical dishes from the Naples are great, you should not leave the city without eating a pizza here as this is where the uber-famous dish was born and where the locals take its preparation extremely seriously regarding how the real Neapolitan pizza should be prepared. Therefore, stop in one of the hundreds of ‘pizzerie’ that pepper the city and enjoy one of the three specialties: ‘pizza napoletana margherita’, ‘pizza napoletana margherita DOC’ which is made with buffalo mozzarella, and ‘pizza napoletana marinara’ which is made with San Marzano tomatoes and seasoned with garlic, oregano, and olive oil. After that, why not stroll down the street as you enjoy an ice cream? This is another Italian specialties Neapolitans boast expertise in and the array of flavours on offers must be seen to be believed.
Visit the dead
Neapolitans are known throughout Italy for their traditions regarding the dead and one of these is particularly popular, if somewhat macabre. If you visit Santa Maria della Sanità or the Cimitero delle Fontanelle you will be able to see thousands of skulls and adopt one, if so you wish. This is in fact called the cult of the ‘capuzzelle’ (local dialect for skull) which means that people bring gifts such as flowers, clothes, and pillows to the bones in return for protection and favours.
Day trip to Pompeii and Vesuvius
Not only Naples but also the nearby towns and surrounding countryside are worth a visit and the city is the perfect place to start. If you are a history buff you will definitely enjoy a visit to Pompeii and its remains as well as a hike over Mount Vesuvius, the volcano that destroyed the city in 79 AD. If, on the other hand, you prefer enjoying the atmosphere of a seaside town, head towards the coast and to Amalfi or Sorrento, both picturesque destinations.
Learn traditional dancing
Although the tarantella was born further south, it is nowadays associated with Naples. This dance is usually performed in couples and its upbeat rhythm recalls the flamenco as well as gypsy and Arabic music yet the sung pieces usually deal in more sombre themes such as lost or unrequited love. So, while in Naples, why not master some moves? The dance is usually performed during festivals but there are many dance schools in the city that offer trial classes for free.
Head to the stunning Amalfi Coast
Italy is one of the best countries in the world to visit, visiting a place like Amalfi will not only help appreciate what the country has to offer but also fully agree with this statement. Amalfi coast with its series of town , right from Positano, Capri, Sorrento and Ischia has been destination of choice for many travelers since the ancient Roman period.
During summer Amalfi coast is packed with visitors from allover the world,it might not be the best time especially for travelers who do not like the inconveniences that come with high seasons . That said, Almalfi coast boasts of spectacular stretches alongside other beautiful features that are not available anywhere else.
If you want to enjoy use public means and escort services. Ferries and boats will allow you to have a close look of the sea and the coastline. A public bus will take you to places where you would not venture if you drove yourself, the bus drivers have stops where you can have a closer view of the features. The best experience is to hire a driver, this way you will stop in places with best scenes something that might not be possible while using a bus.
Shopping is one of the most fun activities you can do on holiday and this is especially true in Naples, where most shops have been handed down from one generation to the next. Here you will be able to find carefully crafted objects, clothes and accessories that are a far cry from the mass produced articles you usually find in big shopping centres. Therefore, hit the streets before returning home and add a few high-end pieces to your home and wardrobe.
Paolo was born in Naples in Southern Italy. He helps organizations in his hometown at promoting its cultural heritage and has a b&b in Naples.