On a recent trip to Naples, I instantly fell in love with this vibrant city. Okay by recent I mean over the festive period. I know I have been really behind on writing on my blog. I hope to do better 🙏🏾
View from the city
Back to Naples and my new love affair. From the grand panoramas created by the mighty Vesuvian Mountains, neighbouring isles and seaside vistas to the throngs of art galleries and the hidden corners of the old town, this bustling city is a craftsman’s dream. I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention the local cuisine, the fruit of generations-old recipes and folklore, a most deliciously integral part of Neapolitan culture. Here are but a few of my favourite findings.
Art & Architecture -
From a creative perspective, Naples offered a wealth of artistic inspiration, made all the better by local hospitality. Indeed, everywhere, I was greeted with friendly denizens ready with tales of their city’s storied past. With a rich history dating back to the ancient Greeks, and setting aside the gorgeous castles, palaces and ruins, among my most memorable moments were visits to the sublime monasteries Santa Chiara and San Domenico Maggiore in the historic city centre; the former includes a mythical church, tombs, a monastery and an archaeological museum while the latter features a 14th century Gothic basilica filled with striking architectural detailing.
Beautiful view from Pozzuoli
A smidge off the grid, a tour of the Bourbon Tunnel offered a fascinating glimpse at a one time aqueduct turned underground air raid shelter and military hospital during WWII. As a fan of the strange and unusual, I travelled to the abandoned Bagnoli suburb to visit the remains of its once thriving iron and steel plant. Hauntingly beautiful, the graffiti covered skeletal structure is surrounded by spectacular sea views. I concluded my adventure in neighbouring Pozzuoli, a community blessed with both important architectural sites and glorious natural attractions. Notables include the ancient ruins at the former market Macellum di Pozzuoli, the Flavian Amphitheatre and the Rione Terra excavation site as well as Lago Avernus, a volcanic crater lake and bucolic promenade area harbouring the remains of the Tempio di Apollo.
Graffiti in the city
Known internationally for the nation’s best pizza and pasta, Naples is a foodie paradise for hearty appetites. Stroll the numerous outdoor markets for cuoppos (paper cones) filled to the brim with fried fish, zucchini or cheese morsels. If the mood strikes, order a pizza a portafoglio (a pizza of your choice folded into a manageable “wallet”) to eat as you discover the city on foot. When ready for a sit down break, find a spot at any of the multitude of pasta eateries and indulge in a heaping serving of delectable stalwarts spaghetti alle vongole (clam spaghetti) or parmigiana di melanzane (eggplant parmigiana) paired with punchy regional wines.
When travelling, to fully experience the feel and flavour of the city, I prefer to stay in cosy, boutique hotels. Costantinopoli 104, a stylish, 19-room former residence in the Greco Roman historic centre, proved to be the perfect choice. Nearby, Palazzo Decumani, a beautifully renovated turn-of-the-century palace offers a mix of both vintage and modern pleasures. And for romantic souls that wish to experience Napolitano life of yesteryear, book a stay at the elegant Hotel Art Resort Galleria Umberto with rooms and public spaces exuding regal majesty.
The view from my bedroom @ Constantinopoli 104
Naples is a shopper’s dream of bespoke artisan fashions, craftworks and vintage pieces proudly displayed in centuries old boutique shops and ateliers around the city. From hand stitched leather gloves, to made-to-measure suits to priceless heirlooms and artwork, I was deeply impressed by the craftsmanship of the magnificent wares waiting at every turn. As individual tastes vary so much from one individual to the next, I choose here to share a broader view of what Naples has to offer by, rather than suggesting specific shops by name, instead focusing on the streets and squares destined to inspire.
Via Toledo, arguably the longest and buzziest shopping street in town, is overrun with chain stores and a local department store though a collection of boutiques and proximity to the stunning neoclassical Galleria Umberto I make it worth a wander. For upscale items including artwork and antiques, scour the elegant streets of Via Chiaia and the exclusive Via dei Mille. If shoes and other leather goods are your passion, venture towards the hillside Via Luca Giordano. End your quest with a visit to the historic city centre where a wealth of labyrinthine, cobblestoned streets—such as Via Gregorio Armeno—and alleyways reward shoppers with one-of-a-kind artisan crafts-works, trinkets and vintage collectables.
My time in this city was amazing. Winter sun, art, architecture, food, limitless inspiration and great company.
I am looking forward to visiting again. Sometime soon I hope 🇮🇹