It’s been said that Naples is a beautiful woman in a dirty dress. Such a description could not be more fitting. Everything you’ve heard about Naples is true: it’s chaotic and gritty. However, in keeping with the woman-in-a-dirty-dress analogy, a person’s true beauty comes from within, not what is on the outside. Naples is the same way. It’s worth seeing beyond the grimy exterior and getting to truly know this beautiful woman. For the #HipmunkCityLove project, I give you a handful of reasons to include Naples on your Italy trip itinerary, for a taste of authentic Italy.
Neapolitans are passionate people. Everything they do is with gusto and conviction. You can hear the emotion in their voices when they speak the singsong Neapolitan dialect. You can see it on their faces as they walk arm-in-arm down the streets. Neapolitans love one another, and even more so, they love life. Their “la vita è bella” outlook is infectious, and spending any amount of time among the Neapolitans is an enjoyable reminder of how we should strive to enjoy each day to the fullest.
Saying the food in Naples is extraordinary is like saying the sky is blue. It’s a given. Naples is the birthplace of pizza, after all. However, the gastronomic delights of Naples extend far beyond pizza. Another Naples original is sfogliatelle, a ridged, shell-shaped, cream or custard-filled pastry. Thanks to the city’s advantageous setting on the Bay of Naples, there is no shortage of fresh and delicious seafood. Then there are the fried foods, ranging from street food like zeppole (similar to doughnuts) to baccala fritto (fried cod), which is a year-round staple for Neapolitans.
As if Naples itself isn’t enough of a draw, the city also serves as an excellent stepping-off point for amazing nearby attractions. The historic archaeological sites of Pompeii and Herculaneum are just a short and easy train ride away. If glitz and glam are more your thing, hop on one of the ferries from Naples to the swank Isle of Capri. Not willing to venture out on your own? Not to worry; private, guided day tours to places like Amalfi Coast are plentiful, and most depart from the center of Naples.
The Natural Beauty
If the bustling centro storico (historic center) gets to be too much, seek respite at the shore. Gaze out on the sparkling blue Bay of Naples with Mt. Vesuvius as a backdrop. Seeing it from a distance in such a peaceful setting, the volcano doesn’t seem so ominous. The rocky shoreline curves with Lungomare, the seaside promenade in the affluent Chiaia neighborhood. It’s a pleasant spot for a stroll or a bike ride. To get an even better look at Bella Napoli, climb to the top of Castel dell’Ovo to see the sea and the city from a higher vantage point. It is stunning.
This is but a scratch on the surface of what makes Naples such an interesting place, and an example of “real” Italy. Just remember to give that gorgeous woman in the dirty dress a chance. She will surprise you.