Naples is not for everyone. If the Italian cities were a family, Milan would be the aloof business woman. Florence, the elegant aunt; Rome the smart Mamma. And Naples would be the aunt who comes to Christmas dinner in hot pants and an old sweater and asks Aunt Florence’s boyfriend if he’d like a quick tumble.
The place has some great assets, a world-class archeological museum, Herculaneum, Castel Nuovo, Santa Chiara, and pizza. But you wonder what could be done if there was less graffiti and more money. This is urban Italy with all the heart of the south and all the crazy.
We spent an afternoon wandering around the historical center of the city, the area just up the hill from the cruise ship dock. Here are some of the images I got.
I’m not sure what we’re protesting here but whatever it is, it’s eclectic.
We wandered past the Piazza del Gesu and found an outdoor cafe that was OK. But our lukewarm feeling might be partly because we were ordering blind — neither the menu or the wait person knew English. One thing we discovered though was that they have sardine pizza and it’s intense. The interior of the cafe was a classic — straight out of a 1950s Italian movie including pictures of the old movie stars:
Further on, we discovered that the Sant’ Angelo church was closed but the high school kids on the steps were definitely open.
And a street performer:
Naples is the starting point when you’re going to Sorrento, Capri or the Amalfi Coast. And it’s worth a day if you have time. Naples is definitely the real Italy.
Great article, however Napoli is most definitely worthy of more than a day! Me and my wife spent 9 days in Naples when we first met. After a few days in Napoli you become hooked, it slowly draws you in, and there is something to see on every corner. Among the sights we took in were the castel del uovo, castel nuovo, the Capella San Severo, the archaeological museum, a small chapel containing Caravaggio’s 7 deadly sins, the Duomo di San Gennaro, and a restaurant that is also a bookshop! At night the town becomes a huge party, especially along the arrow straight Spaccanapoli. We found that we couldn’t see all of Napoli’s offerings in 9 days and vowed to return….that was 10 years ago!
Modohunt — what a great comment! This is just the kind of feedback I’m looking for. To me, travel is always an exploration, a work in progress. And If I haven’t seen all the cool stuff a place has to offer, I’m looking for suggestions for that next visit. So if you want to add more details on any of the Naples sights, please go for it.
As far as my idea of Naples being worth a day, let me reference where I’m coming from. My basic preconception for that comment was that the average Italy traveler 1. is going for their first time and 2. has about 2 weeks. And if that’s the time frame, most guidebooks will break it down something like this: Rome 4-5 days, Florence/Siena 3-4 days, Venice 3 days, 1-2 days travel time and a couple of days in the Naples/Amalfi Coast/Capri area.
But you’re right. There are tons of travelers who have more time or are on their 2nd, 3rd or 4th trip to Italy. And they want to explore the stuff they missed the first time.
So I should probably do a post on that — the fact that it’s a mistake to think of Italy as a one-shot deal . The savvy traveler needs to realize that the big, touristy spots in Italy are only a part of a larger travel picture and plan their time accordingly.