Yet another week of Coronavirus lock down has passed us by. The sun is shining here in the UK which at least means my one bit of exercise a day can be a lovely walk. It’s amazing how we adjust to a new ‘normal’, but I’m starting to feel sad about what this all means for us long term.
So to cheer myself (and hopefully you) up, I’m continuing with my recaps on past trips to remember happier times and dream of when we may be able to get back to travelling again.
So, this post we’re off to Naples. This post covers spending a weekend in Naples, and the main sites there, but if you’re there for longer, you could also do day trips to Pompeii, Mount Vesuvius and Capri – so check those posts out too!
Naples is often seen as the bad boy of Italy. All I really knew about it before I went was that it was famous for the mafia, Diego Maradona and crazy football fans. That was my ignorance and no reflection of Naples. Yes it’s a bit noisy and dirty and less picture perfect than some other Italian cities, but did you know it’s actually the birth place of pizza? And my goodness, they know how to make pizza. It’s also home to great architecture, a lovely coast line, and is close to historic architectural sites like Herculaneum and Pompeii.
Here are my top 5 things to do there, plus best of the rest and full itinerary for anyone interested.
ONE. PIZZA. Amazing, incredible, delicious pizza.
I don’t even really know where to start. If, like me, the pizza you normally eat is either frozen or from Dominos, you haven’t really eaten pizza. Pizza in Naples is an institution, and I can honestly say they are just delicious. My favourite places were Sorbillo (but be prepared to queue for an hour), Gorizia or Pizzeria Oliva da Salvatore. All were absolutely delicious…and absolutely heaving.
TWO. Castel dell’Ovo
Probably the best named castle ever. Egg Castle (once translated in to English), sits right on the sea shore. The castle’s name comes from a legend where the Poet Virgil put a magical egg into the foundations of the castle. It was said that if the egg had been broken, the castle would have been destroyed and a series of disastrous events for Naples would have followed. Luckily, it remained unbroken, and the castle and Naples still stand!
You can now visit the castle, walk the walls, and get some beautiful sea views.
You can do most things in central Naples in 1.5-2 days. If you have half a day to spare, I really recommend visiting Herculaneum. Herculaneum was an ancient town, which like it’s sister town Pompeii, was destroyed and buried under volcanic ash when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79AD.
You can reach Herculaneum by taking the Circumvesuviana train from the main station in Naples to the ‘Ercolano’ stop in about 15 minutes. It’s a bit of a walk from the station to the site, but the site is absolutely incredible. Everything is so well preserved and it’s so much smaller than Pompeii so you can see everything there in a couple of hours. I personally preferred it to Pompeii, and if you don’t have time to make the trip to Pompeii, it’s a great alternative.
FOUR. Piazza del Plebiscito
This fancy Piazza is home to the Royal Palace, Church of San Francesco di Paola and some lovely collonades to each side. We enjoyed visiting the palace and discovering a lot of ornate rooms and frescoes (plus an awesome staircase), and then sitting down with some drinks (and pizza of course) to watch the world go by.
FIVE. Castel Nuovo
This Castle was built in 1279 and was a royal seat for the kings of Naples, Spain and Aragon until the 1800s. It is currently home to two historical societies, and there is also a museum inside which displays some frescoes, paintings and cultural exhibitions. Well worth a couple of hours of your time.
The best of the rest in Naples…
- Duomo di Napoli – An impressive cathedral housing lots of lovely paintings and treasures
- Castel Sant Elmo – This castle is actually a medieval fortress on the hilltop, looking down over Naples. There are now several permanent art exhibits in the castle. One of the most unique is the railing featuring an inscription in braille. It also has some nice views down to the city.
- Catacombs – A welcome break from the heat, the Catacombs of San Gennaro are a bit eerie to say the least. They are underground Christian burial sites carved out of the stone. They’re quite a sight, and you can visit them on a guided tour. The restoration is fairly recent, and being conducted by a group of friends as a community project to protect the city’s history. We loved their enthusiasm and knowledge.
- Exploring the streets – Naples isn’t beautiful like picture perfect Amalfi, or Capri, or Sorrento. It’s noisy and dirty and busy. But it’s also real, and there’s something about the hectic busy streets that I quite liked. It’s worth exploring them if you want to see a bit of reality.
Full Itinerary for those interested
- Day 1 – Castel dell’Ovo, Piazza del Plebiscito, Herculaneum
- Day 2 – Castel Nuovo, Duomo di Napoli, Catacombs, Castel Sant Elmo, city walk.
Thank you for reading! We enjoyed our trip to Naples, but wouldn’t put it top of our places to visit in Italy. What did you think? Are you planning to visit Naples? Let me know in the comments below.