With a skyline defined by towering Mount Vesuvis, Naples is a bustling Italian city brimming with beauty. Experience its rich neoclassical architecture at sites like Gesu Nuovo Church, with its lavish interior adorned with detailed frescoes, statues and gold inlay. Go even deeper into history at the San Gennaro catacombs, where Naples’ first bishops were buried in the second century A.D. Walk along the Miglio Sacro (“Holy Mile”) and people-watch your way through the cafes and shops of the Sanita district with a zuccherato (sweetened espresso) in hand. Jump onboard a Naples cruise and take the short bus ride to the base of Mount Vesuvius — it’s an easy 20- to 30-minute hike will take you to the summit — and tour the ruins of Pompeii afterward.
THINGS TO DO IN NAPLES
Interested in getting up close and personal with Naples’ past residents? Head underground to visit the Catacombs of San Gennaro. These historic burial places are the oldest in the city and the largest in all of Southern Italy. Spend some time wandering around the different rooms to see how the rooms where the wealthy and poor were buried.
CHURCH BELLS RING
Naples’ churches are a great way to tour its architectural treasures, and most of them are concentrated in the old town center. Check out San Domenico Maggiore, with its impressive gold-gilded ceiling and interior. Inside Sansevero Chapel, you’ll find a number of impressive Baroque statues and classical art. And don’t miss the beautiful frescoes and peaceful vibe of Gesu Nuovo Church during your Capri cruise.
Neopolitan-style pizza is Naples culinary gem. Grab a seat at L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele, which has been serving up pizza since 1870, and order a slice of simple, classic margherita, topped with fresh basil, tomato sauce and local mozzarella di fiore. Cruise to Naples and head to Friggitoria Vomero for the town’s best arancini — gooey, fried spheres of rice and cheese — or panzarotti, a mini-calzone stuffed with mozzarella, tomato and other ingredients like spinach or ham.
Head to Via Toledo, the longest shopping street in Naples, which offers small boutiques and a huge department store. Continue down the road to Galleria Umberto I, a beautiful shopping gallery for some high-end souvenirs such as silk scarves and leather shoes to take back home.
Naples is a large, sprawling Mediterranean port, with a centre that has many different focuses just waiting to be discovered on a Mediterranean cruise excursion.
No trip to Naples is complete without visiting the area between Piazza Garibaldi and Via Toledo, roughly corresponding to the old Roman Neapolis (much of which is still unexcavated like in many other Italian cities).
The old part of Naples – the centro storico – is formed by the main streets of Via dei Tribunali and Via San Biagio dei Librai (the latter also known as “Spaccanapoli” as it literally splits Naples in two), which still follow the path of the ancient Roman roads. This is much the liveliest and most teeming part of Naples, an open-air kasbah of hawking, yelling humanity that makes up in energy what it lacks in grace. But it’s the city’s most intriguing quarter, and a must-see on any cruise to Naples. The Duomo is a Gothic building from the early thirteenth century (though with a late nineteenth-century neo-Gothic facade) dedicated to the patron saint of the city, San Gennaro.
Mediterranean cruises and excursions also to Pompeii. One of Campania’s most important Roman commercial centres – a moneyed resort for wealthy patricians and a trading town that exported wine and fish – the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79 in effect froze the town’s way of life as it stood at the time.
Trips can also be taken to the island of Capri, place of legend, home to the mythical Sirens and a much-eulogized playground of the super-rich in the years since – though now it has settled down to a lucrative existence as a target for day-trippers from the mainland.
Definitely worth a visit, but these days the origins of much of the purple prose may be hard to find.
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