Italy.! The land of pizza, pasta, gelato and super Mario.! We were really excited about our 10 day Italy trip and boy that was such an amazing trip. Our first stop was Naples, the birthplace of modern pizza.!! As soon as we landed in Naples, the gateway to southern Italy, we were hit by a blast of moist, hot air as we stepped outside the aircraft, which reminded us of India. It was certainly an escapade from the cold Dublin. Naples is chaotic, dirty, with unorganized traffic and a completely mismanaged and neglected city. However, the pizzeria’s are world famous and you can savor some of the best pizza’s in this city. Naples would certainly satisfy your love for pizza and is a base for visiting nearby popular touristic attractions such as Sorrento, Capri, Pompeii ruins and Positano. As Naples is well connected by flights, trains and ferries, you can easily make a trip to Naples not worrying about transportation.
Things to do:
Eat, Eat and Repeat
Eat, eat and repeat. This should be the major activity when you visit Naples. We arrived on a hot Saturday afternoon and headed straight to the most famous pizzeria Gino Sorbillo. However, we could not eat here as the lines were extremely long and we were too hungry to wait. So don’t arrive here hungry and expect to wait a minimum of 1 to 1.5 hours in a narrow crowded street, occasionally getting yelled at by the person minding the crowd. We picked another pizzeria called Di Matteo, which is some 200 meters away on the same road. Even though there was a wait time, it was reasonable and we thoroughly enjoyed the wood fired pizza, cooked the traditional way (and extremely cheap, about 4 euros for a big pizza and 750 ml house wine for 4 euros). Later in the evening we visited Antonio and Gigi Sorbillo for dinner, and that was probably the best pizza we have tasted in our lifetime. This restaurant, had a much better look and feel and pizzas cost about 8 euros.
On the Via dei Tribunali street, and in general in Naples, you are never far from a pizzeria serving Neapolitan pizza and the aroma of delicious pizza is bound to make you pay a visit to the pizzeria, even if you are not hungry. Naples really takes its pizza making pretty seriously. In addition to pizza, they also serve the best arancini (stuffed rice balls which are coated with bread crumbs and then deep fried).
Next up is Gelato, the authentic Italian ice cream. There are so many flavors that you really cannot taste everything by the time you leave Italy. We had the yummiest Gelato at Fantasia Gelati. A 3-scope Gelato costs around 3 euros!
Do not miss the Italian coffee shops. Even though coffee is not grown in Italy, they import the best beans from other parts of the world and the brew is extraordinary. Try the espresso even if you are used to drinking coffee only with milk. At first you might find it very bitter but the real coffee lover would love the espresso more than the one mixed with milk. Italians love their coffee and spend hours sipping the espresso and the concept of take away is only for tourists.
This imposing castle is surely one of the main architectural landmarks of the city. It was built in the late 11th century and it has housed many rulers since then. We did not go inside but the outside view of the majestic castle is a visual treat for the eyes. Entry fees to the Castel is 6 euros per person.
Piazza del Plebiscito:
This is a large public square in Naples. There are numerous cafes and restaurants nearby, so grab a gelato or a coffee and relax here after a tiresome walk around the city. The square is surrounded by the Royal palace and the church of San Francesco di Paola. Take a look inside the church and marvel at the huge columns and the statues. You will see a lot of people just hanging out on the stairs, kids playing and life going on in general..
Day trips from Naples:
You can visit Capri (however, we suggest staying overnight at Capri), Pompeii ruins (you can either take a train or organized tours), Herculaneum (yet another casualty of the volcanic eruption and less crowded compared to Pompeii), Mount Vesuvius (the volcano that wiped out Pompeii and Herculaneum).
A word of advice here is to book all the tickets in advance (especially the ferry tickets, as the tickets might get sold out a few hours before the departure).
Where to stay:
Accommodation at Naples is quite reasonable. We stayed at a hotel 500 m from the harbor and you can always find something at booking.com. We stayed here and the room costed us 80 euros for a night. It was a comfortable stay and the view from the room was beautiful.