The smell of exhaust gases was in the air when I got out of the Central Station. Taxi drivers were scrambled to get tourists for a drive. In the background I heard cars honking. Right away I was in the middle of hustle and bustle.
Naples was the second stop of my Italy trip and it was so different from Rome. While the Eternal City was very touristic, ancient and quite calm regarding the traffic, Naples was the complete opposite. I had the feeling a car accident is happening soon, because the motorbikes squashed through every gap and drove even through the tiniest streets. Fortunately, I haven’t seen any. But reminiscing back I can still hear the cars honking in my head. It was preposterous how packed and busy Naples was.
So I decided to spend the next day in the nature. I went up to the volcano Vesuv from where you have an incredible view over the city and the sea. It was pretty windy and it smelled like sulphur, but I felt relieved and just enjoyed the view over the gulf of Naples.
If you plan your next vacation to Italy’s third-largest city, don’t expect too much. Although Naples is placed by the seaside, you will realize that it is just a big harbor and nothing else. The city is dirty and by night it can be quite dangerous. But still I can recommend a short stop there to go to the Vesuv. So two days are enough to see a bit of Naples and go up to the volcano.
Read here what you can do and where to sleep in Naples and find out the best dining spots.
What to see in Naples
1. Art Stations of Naples Metro (there are some stops of Naples Metro to make the environment beautiful, comfortable and functional, such as Toledo station which is one of the most beautiful stations in Europe)
2. Museo Archeologico Nazionale (offers a monumental array of antique art, 8€ and free on the first Sunday of each month, Wed-Mon, 9am – 7.30pm)
3. Catacombe di San Gennaro (Naples’ oldest catacombs with corridors and broad vestibules including 2nd-century Christian frescoes, 5th-century mosaics and the oldest known portrait of San Gennaro -> 15€, must be pre-booked on their website)
4. Duomo (Naples’ cathedral with a central nave’s gilded coffered ceiling)
5. Volcano Vesuv (either go by car or by public transportation -> take the train to Sorrent and get off at Ercolano Scavi. From there busses take you for 20€ to the Vesuv and back, incl. the ticket to the volcano)
What to eat in Naples
I didn’t spend much time in Naples, but there is a little square I can recommend. It’s called Piazza Bellini and you can find nice cafés there. I chose the Caffè Letterario where I had a tasteful salad and a good slice of cake.
On the other night I ordered a delicious Caprese pizza and a great salad at the Antica Trattoria Da Peppino which was a really good choice of a restaurant and very cheap as well. You pay for two salads, two pizzas and two drinks about 30€. And while eating, there was a firework going on at the neighborhood. It made this evening very special and will always stick in my memory.
If you love cakes, cookies and ice cream you should definitely go to the Gran Caffè Gambrinus near the Castle Nuovo and the harbor. They not just have delicious pastries, but also a beautiful and romantic location where you can enjoy your sweet sin.
Where to stay
From a co-worker I got a recommendation of a lovely hotel up on a hill from where you probably have the most beautiful view over Naples and the gulf of Naples. The hotel is called Casa Tolentino, which is a former monastery. It not just has a beautiful view, but also a cute little garden where you could hang out forever.
The rooms are spartanly furnished, but modern and the breakfast is included in the price. From the hotel you can walk within 10-15 minutes to the busy shopping street Via Toledo where you can also find a metro station to the Central Station or to the harbor.
If you have any questions or if there is anything else you would like to know about Naples, feel free to ask and I would love to help you out. By the way, next week I will post my guide to Ischia, a beautiful island which lies off the coast of Naples and which is my last stop of my Italy itinerary. Stay tuned!
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