Naples is southern Italy’s great city, pulsing with life, full of wonderful buildings and museums and flanked by an idyllic bay. Capital of the region of Campania, on Italy’s west coast, it is 2.5 hours by fast train from Rome. It is as much famed for its citizens as its monuments, and there is nowhere else in Italy where you can find such a level of life lived on the streets, or such a stark demonstration of the north-south divide. With more than a million inhabitants, Naples is a big, sprawling city, so be prepared to walk; the upshot will be some fascinating discoveries and fabulous views. The city is divided up into 5 districts:
1- Historic Center: This place is most well-known with travelers and is understood for its outstanding restaurants, barouque churches, dynamic nightlife, and adequate souvenir shopping.
2- Agano: Right here you’ll discover sufficient thermal springs and the ruins of Roman baths along with among the city’s largest nightclubs.
3- Posillipo and Chiaia: There are a lot of Roman ruins right here along with a renowned view of the entire city. Here you can also walk by the sea along with discover an abundance of palaces, barouque churches, and captivating gardens
4- Arsenella: This is a much quieter part of the city with great deals of trees, villas, churches, and also castles to see.
5- San Carlo all’Arena: Right here you’ll discover the greatest significant palace of Naples, along with an old graveyard, and various other historical buildings.
Things to do in Naples: When to Visit?
You can arrive in Naples via the international airport called (NAP).
There’s no best time to visit Naples, although spring and fall are ideal for those who don’t enjoy extremes. July and August can be hot, with temperatures well over 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 degrees Celsius), while winter and spring can be cold and wet.
Things to do in Naples: What to See?
The National Archaeological Museum of Naples: The Museo Archeologico (Archeological Museum) houses one of the world’s most important collections of classical sculpture, mosaics, gems, glass and silver. You’ll need two to three hours to do it justice, and buy an English-language guide before you start. The first floor is devoted mainly to sculpture, much from the 17th-century Farnese collections that were largely discovered in Rome.
The stars are the muscular Farnese Hercules, and the Farnese Bull. Dating from 200 BC, this is the largest classical sculptural group to have survived. Many rooms are filled with finds from Pompei and Herculaneum, including charming frescoes and mosaics; don’t miss the graceful fresco of Flora scattering spring flowers, and a mosaic of a fierce but friendly dog from a Pompeian front door.
Duomo: A 13th-centuiy Gothic cathedral dedicated to San Cennaro, patron saint of Naples; the first chapel on the right contains two phials of his blood, said to liquefy three times a year. Also part of the complex are the fourth-century Basilica Santa Restituta (the oldest church in Naples), a baptistery and a Renaissance crypt.
Piazza del Plebiscito: Situated at the center of modern Naples, right here on the plaza you’ll find a large domed church, and the Royal Palace (Palazzo Reale). Inside the palace you can discover wonderfully restored rooms and royal apartments. Don’t forget to go up to the roof garden where you’ll see charming views of the bay.
Palazzo Reale: The 17 th-century palace of the Spanish viceroys of Naples, extended in the 18th century by the Bourbons and altered in the 19th century by the French. Houses the historic Biblioteca Nazionale (National Library), and a series of grandiose state rooms. wall-paintings, glass and silver, much of it plundered from the excavations around and to the south of Naples. The museum, founded in 1777, is badly labelled and confusingly laid out, with whole sections often closed, but it is nevertheless outstanding, and the exhibits do much to enhance visits to Pompei and Ercolano.
The ground floor is devoted to sculpture, much from the 17th- century Farnese collections, which were largely discovered in Rome. Highlights are the muscular Farnese Hercules and the Farnese Bull (200BC), the largest surviving classical sculptural group. Visit the wonderfully vivid mosaic collection and the Cabinetto Segreto (Secret Chamber), a collection of Roman erotica from Pompei, which ranges from sensual wall paintings to phallic charms.
Upstairs, rooms are filled with more finds from Pompei and Ercolano, including a naturalistic wall-painting of a graceful Flora scattering spring flowers, and a cave canem (Beware of the Dog) mosaic from the entrance to a house in Pompei.
Castelnuovo (Maschio Angioino): The Castel Nuovo (New Castle), with its five massive towers, dominates the Naples waterfront. First built in 1282, it was enlarged in the 15th century and was later the residence of the Aragonese monarchs. Today, it’s the home of the Naples city council. A magnificent Renaissance gatewav gives access to the central courtyard, which is surrounded by buildings housing the Museo Civico (Civic Museum), the splendid Gothic Sala dei Baroni (Baron’s Hall) and the Cappella Palatina (Palatine Chapel), the only surviving part of an earlier 13th- century building.
Nearby is the huge and imposing Palazzo Reale, a grandiose structure built in 1602 with a flamboyant but strangely dull interior. The famous San Carlo, Italy’s largest opera house, is to the east of the castle.
Museo Nazionale di Capodimonte: Built in 1738 as the Bourbon King Charles Ill’s palace and surrounded by a wooded park, Capodimonte has been restored and rearranged. You can wander freely through the opulent royal apartments on your way to the majolica and porcelain collection, much of it made by the Capodimonte factory and painted with local scenes. Upstairs is the superb picture gallery, a representative collection spanning the 15th to 17th centuries, with the emphasis on Renaissance paintings.
Some rooms are often closed, but with luck you should see Botticelli’s Madonna, Umbrian pictures by Perugino and Pinturricchio and some sensitive portraits of Pope Paul III by Titian. There’s a Raphael portrait of Pope Leo X, contrasting with Sebastiano del Piombo’s worldly interpretation of Pope Clement VII.
Santa Chiara: The great Franciscan church of Santa Chiara is a good starting point for exploring Spaccanapoli, the ebullient heart of historic Naples. Packed with squares and historic buildings, this entire area teems with life, noise and confusion. By contrast, the church is simple and austere.
Rebuilt after a fire in 1943, it contains tombs and gives access to the 14th-century cloister with its garden and 17th-century columns and seats. There is a museum and spectacular nativity scene.
Villa La Floridiana: A beautiful villa and park in the Vomero district, once the home of the Duchess of Floridia, morganatic wife of Ferdinand I. It now houses the Museo Nazionale della Ceramica, the porcelain museum (Tue-Sun 9.30-11), with a superb Limoges and Meissen collection.
Things to do in Naples: Where to Eat?
Home of the pizza, Naples has some of Italy’s best cooking- tasty, fresh and imaginative. Try the ultra-thin classic pizza marinara, and other food-to- go such as arancini, fried rice balls, and fiorilli, stuffed and battered courgette flowers. Expect mounds of pasta, simply served with tomato and basil sauce, superb fish and seafood with fresh mozzarella and vegetables such as peppers, aubergines and courgettes. Neapolitans are also famed for their pastries, often stuffed with sweetened ricotta and candied fruit.
Taverna dell’Arte: This characteristic Neapolitan restaurant, with an outside terrace for summer dining, offers traditional dishes made with attention to detail. (Adress: Rampe San Giovanni Maggiore 1/A – Tel: 081 552 7558)
Mimi alia Ferrovia: A typical Naples restaurant, buzzing and chaotic, where you can enjoy delicious dishes using the freshest ingredients A local favorite. (Adress: Via Alfonso d’Aragona 21 – Tel: 081 553 8525)
La Cantinella: This seafront restaurant specializes in creative fish meals, which you can enjoy on the terrace. (Adress: Via Cuma 42 – Tel: 0817 648 684)
Cinquanta tre: Naples’ oldest restaurant features 17th-century furnishings and an original mosaic pavement, serves great hors d’oeuvres, seafood pasta and Neapolitan desserts. (Adress:Piazza Dante 53- Tel: 0815 499 372)
Don Salvatore: You’ll find very good cooking using the freshest fish and other ingredients in this traditional irestaurant, which also doubles as a pizzeria Excellent desserts. (Adress: Via Mergellina 5 – Tel: 081 681 817)
Dora: Traditional fish dishes make up the bulk of the impressive menu here, where the staff often treat diners to an eccentric performance at the end of the evening. Well worth trying is the famous pasta alia Dora (pasta with a tomato sauce and shellfish), but the menu also offers a choice of grilled and baked fish dishes. Some very good wines are available and dessert is worth saving room for. (Adress: Via Ferdinando Palasciano 30,80122 Naples – Tel: 081 680519)
Gran Caffe La Caffetteria: This café lies amidst the refined surroundings of Piazza dei Martiri. It’s a great choice if you like to sit outside and people-watch. Inside there’s a smart tearoom where you can sit and relax. Many of the locals take their espresso with a small Neapolitan pastry. A good place to start is with one of their baba cakes or a crispy sfogliatelle pastry. This is a child-friendly establishment. (Adress: Piazza dei Martiri 26,80121 Napoli, Tel: 081 7644243)
Trattoria San Ferdinando: This welcoming place is full of artwork evocative of the nearby San Carlo theatre. Choose from a dozen excellent first and second courses: The delicious peppers and buffalo cheese and penne pasta with courgettes stand out. There is a great selection of desserts and the wine list is faithful to local producers. (Adress: Via Nardones 117,80132 Napoli – Tel: 081 421964)
Things to do in Naples: Nightlife
Naples has actually seen a positive renewal of their nightlife scene thanks to an influx of the younger crowd. Have a look at the bars and cafes on Piazza Bellini, Piazza Santa Maria la Nova, and Piazza San Domenico Maggiore. You’re likewise bound to find numerous lively bars around the Piazza dei Martiri. Likewise, if you’re trying to find a break from the city, near the outskirts near to the port and boardwalk of Pozzuoli, you’ll find numerous bars and clubs also.
Things to do in Naples: Where to Stay?
Hotel Il Convento: This handsome 17th-century palace, next to the convent of Santa Maria Francesca, is newly renovated and has subtle lighting, wood details and attractive antique furniture.
The small roof garden is a relaxing place to enjoy breakfast. Two spacious junior suites have balcony views, but all the rooms have excellent, up-to-date amenities including telephone, radio, minibar and television.
Hotel Excelsior: One of Naples’ grandest establishments, located in the elegant Chiaia district. The hotel has period-style rooms and superb views over the bay to Capri.
Grand Hotel Parker’s: Nineteenth-century decor combines with 21st-century comforts in this hotel. There are lovely views over the city and the rooftop restaurant serves Neapolitan specialties.
Hotel Europa: A convenient location and decent service make this a good bet for accommodation near the centro storico. The 19th-century classical-style façade is reminiscent of the Bourbon royal palace nearby. Plants and frescoes fill the library and other public areas. Most of the soundproofed rooms have cheerful paintings hung on whitewashed walls. Facilities include television, phone, safe, hair-dryer and minibar. Traditional music is often played in the adjoining La Grande Abbuffata restaurant.
Grand Hotel Vesuvio: Many notable figures such as Grace Kelly and tenor Enrico Caruso have passed through the doors of the Grand Hôtel du Vesuve since it opened in 1882. Public rooms and guest rooms are filled with antiques and exquisite fabrics. Services are comprehensive: limousine service and even a boat to whisk you away. Dine in style at Caruso, the rooftop restaurant, or take advantage of the fitness, health and beauty facilities available at the Echia Club.
Margherita:The Margherita is a decent budget option near the San Martino museum and gardens. There is a small, functional reception and the staff are welcoming. Some of the rooms are a little dark, but they are kept clean and tidy. Most doubles have two single beds put together. There are no fancy facilities, and bathrooms are shared. A far better choice than one of the shabby 1-star hotels near the Napoli Centrale station. No credit cards.
Hotel Miramare: An aristocratic villa in the 19th century and the American consulate in the 1950s, this beautiful building has been transformed into an attractive hotel. Inside you will find quirky paintings and art nouveau furnishings. The bedrooms come with all modern comforts-satellite television, video player (with free video rental), trouser press, tea/coffee maker, minibar and hair-dryer. You can relax and enjoy the sublime vistas on the terrace.
Things to do in Naples: Naples Tours & Attractions