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9.21.2010

What to do in Naples {Beautiful Chaos}



Naples is much maligned, and it is indeed not for every taste. I will even admit to buying into the fear factor casually thrown about about - danger lurking at every corner and every interaction a scam.

This summer we actually thought about it. Three coups, one mutinyone stray bullet, over a decade of living in volatile african countries between us. We couldn't figure out what to be so afraid of, so south we went.


A podcast I heard a few years ago poses a very wise maxim. "if you love Rome, head further south. If you don't love Rome, start planning Tuscan and alpine adventures.
Here are some of the things we loved on two recent visits.
Don't Miss Sights

Start with a walk along the Via Tribunale once known as the central decumanus

Take in the altars in every niche (dont miss one to soccer legend maradonna - with a vial of tears of neapolitans at the bar Nilo), dodge the scooters, admire the presepe supplies and many many pastries.

Visit the Duomo. The chapel to the right houses the relics of San Gennaro. The Saturday afternoon we visited there was a wedding. As the couple were exchanging their vows of lifelong devotion, there was a man on his knees in an open confessional, head bowed in front of a long robed priest. And I thought the Romans were theatrical!

Around the corner in the church of Pio Monte della Misericordia is what was described to me as the most beautiful Caravaggio - The Seven Acts of Mercy.  it is a moving must see and the rest of the museum also merits at least a quick look. 




Take a Sunday morning stroll along the Lungomare Chiaia. Don't miss the small fish market. The customers bags are jumping, octopus are escaping their tubs. I despair at feeling like any fish I buy now ever being fresh.

Pizza Pizza Pizza




 Da Michele - always popular and always crowded...Saturday afternoon at 1:30,  and one week before Eat Pray Love opens in Italy itwas probably not the wisest choice of times to visit...after a 40 minute wait, (get your number at the front the second you arrive & listen carefully) we bailed and went across the street to La Trianon da Ciro (Via Pietro Colletta 42–6) known for it's gigantic pizzas served in an airy marble room packed in with Italian families, this b-team choice made for a festive and delicious lunch.

Shoes and Great Hair 

The Corso Umberto is the quick but noisy and slightly boring way back to the center of the action...much is closed in the after lunch pre-dinner hours, but we snagged a few pairs of Superga and Converse sneakers for half the price they are in Rome. (Siniscalchi, Corso Umberto I 184)

Our favorite boys from Noi have started a new venture in Naples in the chic and lively Chiaia neighborhood. 


Ponte Milvio meets New Orleans is how a Saturday night on and around the Vicolletto Belladonna feels. Teenagers lounging on scooters, the beautiful people having cocktails. This is where the action is.

Have a midnight limoncello at the elegant cafe gamberius

Eat

Lunch at the Castel Uovo, a tiny little promontory packed with cafes and restaurants...watch the boats and Vesuvius while you have a Sunday seafood lunch. Two sure bets are risorante transaltantico and Zia Teresa



Da Nenella loud and chaotic and casual. This is a true Neapolitan Quartiere Spagnoli experience. The mixed appetizer plate is a must and if you are there in mid summer  - the wheelbarrow filled with peaches holds dessert.

Gay Odin The teenager dubbed this iconic chocolate shop the Starbucks of Naples. There seemed to be one on every corner!  Bring home a box of violet chocolates or homemade nutella filled wafer cookies. 

Sleep

Hotel il Convento - located smack in the middle of the very lively Quartiere Spagnoli this spot is an oasis of calm. Watch the activity from your balcony and make sure to let the front desk advise of you of all the best spots in Naples.

Napolit'amo - this affordable option just underwent a recent renovation.  It has brand new mattresses and sleek design bathrooms. Extra points for the mini-bar having real world prices. 



Practicalities
You can drive in Naples.  map your route carefully with google maps. be patient and plan on parking in a garage and leaving your car the entire time.  your hotel will usually have a suggestion for a garage.  we have parked here (25/day) and also in a strisce blu spot on a Sunday morning (for the day) just behind the communal gardens. 

Don't have anything with you that you can't bear to lose, then you really can relax and enjoy all there is to see.

Don't even think about a trip to Naples without scouring these blogs first


and one last thing...
This is a must have iPhone app


2 comments :

  1. Gambrinus. Do you know about the habit of buying a cup of coffee - at Gambrinus - for an fictional friend, to be picked up by the next person who fancies a coffee but has no money to pay for it? That friend has a name but it escapes me.
    And I love the chapel Sansevero with its amazing veiled Christ and the baroque scientific experiments in the cellar.

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  2. @spacedlaw i think it's called cafe pagato...what a lovely sentiment...i have never been brave enough to offer it though.

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