48 Hours in Naples
There is only one word to describe Naples, the unruly-southern-does what it wants younger sibling-to-the-north: eclectic. Or energetic. Wait, interesting or unforgettable. OK, so the point has been made; there is no one-size-fits-all description for Naples. You will need to carve out a few days to venture down south to embrace a culture rich with liveliness, mouth-watering food, and history significant to Italy and its development to decide the one word (or five) that will best describe this memorable city. But you have been warned: it will be nothing you expect.
HOW TO GET THERE
As travelers throughout Italy know, Milan is a transportation hub for getaways with its easy access to trains and planes. However, choosing a train or plane depends on the time and money that you have. Flying to Naples from Milan is a quick 90-minute flight from Milano Linate or Malpensa, which depending on the day, can range from a mere 40 euros round trip or 300 euros (plan wisely!). Obviously, traveling within Italy during public holidays can be more costly and of course more crowded, so if you’re able to, shoot for a “normal” weekend to make your way down South. If you opt for the train, Trenitalia or Italo Treno have constant trains making the trek from Milano Centrale to Napoli Centrale from an estimated 100 euros for a round trip for a 4.5 to 5.5 hour journey. One of the pros of a train ride vs. a flight is no security check! Or feel free to spice it up: fly there and train it back. Of course, you can always drive, but plan to spend more time traveling with at least a 7.5-hour journey.
WHERE TO STAY
If you know where to look, booking the perfect spot for your solo or group trip is as easy as saying yes to another spritz during aperitivo time. Booking.com is a traveler’s lifesaving app when finding deals. Il Vicoletto del Castello , a cozy spot in the heart of Naples, also known as the bustling center, has offers of a deluxe or single apartment at a very affordable rate, in addition to 12th Floor Napoli, which is equipped with a great view of the Gulf of Naples, as well. One thing to remember is that while staying in the center of a city, it can be overwhelming at times with people and for lack of a better term, chaotic, but being close to a train station and to the city’s attractions can’t be beaten, and these apartments have exactly that. However, if you aren’t someone who likes to be on the scene at all times, choose a location in the Quartieri Spagnoli (Spanish Quarter) or in the Lungomare area; each of these spectacular in their own right but less crowded and a bit less cluttered.
WHERE AND WHAT TO EAT
Pizza, pastries, and wine, oh my! Fortunately, Naples, the birthplace of the Marguerita pizza and the symbol of pizza worldwide, has more than enough pizzerias to suit anyone’s taste. The pizza fritte (fried pizza), akin to a calzone, is a must to try, and Antica Pizzerria De Figliole is where you should begin. Although the price is small (only 6 euros) your appetite better be large in order to finish – or attempt to finish – the plate-size serving of some of the crispiest yet melt-in-your-mouth dough-filled deliciousness you have ever tasted. Other popular places not to be missed are 50 Kalo or Sorbillo Pizzeria (this is where the popular chain began.)
Do you desire a fun and lively vibe while you eat? Then, don’t miss Spaccanapoli, a long and narrow street covered from one end to the other with restaurants, cafes and bars. One tip: Watch out for the scooters! After pizza, who could say no to dessert? If your stomach has a little bit of room left after all of that glorious pizza, Poppella Pasticcerria should be your next stop to try the fiocco di neve. The fluffy cream-filled pastry, which has been dubbed a “snowflake” is the talk of the town, and rightfully so.
WHAT TO DO AND SEE
As with almost every city in Italy, the list of attractions to see are endless and in this historical city, it is no different. One of the first stops in Italian cities: the cathedrals. Duomo di Napoli, also known as the Cathedral of San Gennaro in honor of the city’s patron saint, is not to be missed. One big pull to this attraction besides its beauty, is the “miracle” that the ampoules of the saint’s blood liquify each year (hopefully), which is supposed to set a positive tone for the year ahead. Read more about this event here. The San Gennaro Catacombs is also widely popular as you are able to venture to the “underground” area where tombs as old as the 2nd century A.D. remain. Make sure to carve out extra time to the National Archaeological Museum to marvel at floors and floors of artifacts. Other not-to-be-missed places include the Undergound Naples and Sansevero Museum to view the famous veiled Christ sculpture. Tip: Book tickets in advance for each of these places!
However, if you want to escape the chaos of the city for at least a day, a trip down to Naples wouldn’t be complete without a tour of Pompeii. Hop onto the Circumvesuviana for about a 40-minute ride to the famous archaeological ruins of a city destroyed by Mt. Vesuvius in 79 A.D. Why not tack Sorrento onto that day plan at only about 35 minutes from Pompeii via the Circumvesuviana, this beautiful, coastal city is a quite literal breath of fresh air. And when life gives you lemons in Sorrento, you make sure to pop into i Giardini di Cataldo, a lemon grove ripe with limoncello, sweets, and did I say limoncello?
As you can see, one can’t decide to venture to Naples and come back with only one word to describe this vibrant city when a curious friend asks “How was it?” No, the only suitable reply is, “You have to go, and see for yourself.” Naples is not a city for the faint-hearted, but a city that will undoubtedly slowly edge its way deep into your soul.
Article by Mary Catherine Holcomb for Easy Milano
Easy Milano is the online publication for the international community of Milan. We offer practical tips, key information and essential insights about living and working in Italy. Easy Milano has been assisting English speaking expats in Milan since 1999.
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