For thousands of years, people have been seduced by Naples’ charms. With its breath-taking natural setting it’s not hard to see why.
Today, however, Naples is something of an undiscovered gem. People take flights to Naples and then immediately disperse to the Amalfi coast, Pompei or Capri. If they do go into the city itself it’s only to visit the National Archaeological Museum. They then scurry back to the safety of sleepy Sorrento. You mustn’t miss the museum with its marble sculptures and saucy mosaics. Afterwards though, you should take some time to explore the city itself.
The heart of the city is the Spanish Quarter built in the 16th century by the city’s Spanish overlords. It’s a cramped and noisy and is really like stepping back in time. This is the uber-Naples with the feel of a North African bazaar. You can see why Northern Italians view the South as another country entirely. In it you will find the best pizza in the world on the nearby Via dei Tribunali where all the shops have pictures of Bill Clinton in them from when he visited the city in 1994. Just watch out for the suicidal boys on scooters.
It’s heady and intoxicating but it can be a little overwhelming. For some fresh air take the funicular railway up to Vomero for a panorama of the city. Then a short metro ride away is the seaside district of Mergillana. It’s so expansive and chic that you could be on Cotes-de-Azur only without the silly people and prices. A chilled bottle of Falanghina – the superb local white – and some Fritto Misto and it’s the perfect place to watch the sun go down. From here you can appreciate the sheet beauty of the Bay of Naples. Above it all lurks the menacing outline of Vesuvius which could erupt at any moment.