Even the most passionate Italian lovers will be shocked to hear that you visited Naples . Many people associate the name with images of runaway crime rates, garbage crisis, and bullets flying on the streets.
Yes, it is gritty. It’s chaotic. It’s crazy.
It is also one of the most fascinating places in Italy. It’s unlike any other place you’ll visit.
Here are nine reasons to visit this beautiful and crazy city.
1. This is the best pizza you will ever eat
Ask any Italian where the best Pizza in Italy is from and they will answer, begrudgingly, the same thing: Napoli. This is where pizza was born and has been refined by the Neapolitans since the 19th Century. Via dei Tribunali is home to some of Naples’ most renowned pizzerias. This area is a sort of holy grail for those who love pizza. We recommend that you avoid the long-standing favorite Da Michele, which, especially since Eat, Pray, Love, is becoming increasingly touristy, and instead go for I Decumani or Di Matteo (Via dei Tribunali 681-611) or Via Tribunali 94. Don’t believe us? Try them all. You can make your own pizza at home with our blog.
2. All those treasures of Pompeii? They are in the National Archaeological Museum…in Naples
There are very few frescoes and sculptures, mosaics and everyday items that survived the destruction of Mt. Vesuvius are still in place. They are instead in Naples. The archaeological museum of the city is one of the most important in Italy if it’s not the entire world. It houses a wide range of ancient treasures, including the Farnese Bull and Artemis of Ephesus, as well as dozens of remarkable frescoes. The Gabinetto Segreto might be open if you are lucky (it has been closed for many years). However, this doesn’t mean that Pompeii should be missed.
3. Naples is home to an underground city.
Naples was built on tuff (a soft volcanic stone). Since the beginning of time, the city’s inhabitants have been using this stuff to build passageways and chambers beneath it. The subterranean treasures of Naples include pagan burial chambers, Christian catacombs, and air raid shelters from World War II. An English tour of the underground can be arranged by Napoli Sotterranea. You also have the option to visit the Catacombs in San Gennaro, Via Capodimonte 13, or the Catacombs in San Gaudioso on Piazza Sanita 14.
4. Three castles, not one
Count ’em. The Castel Nuovo was built by Charles I, of Anjou in 1279; Castel dell’Ovo has ancient origins and is known for its “Egg Castle” name; Castel Sant’Elmo towers over the city and dates back at least to 1275. Castel Capuano is a 12th-century castle located at the east end of Via Dei Tribunali. However, it has been so extensively restored that it’s difficult to see the character of the 12th century beneath. You should also visit our list of the most beautiful castles in Italy.
5. Caravaggio, Michelangelo, and Raphael, oh my!
Naples is a must-see if you even have a passing interest. Why? The Capodimonte. The Capodimonte has more gems in Italy than the Uffizi, and you don’t have to compete for space with its greatest works. The Capodimonte has pieces by Caravaggio and Raphael. Vesuvius’ eruption…
6. Lively, but laid-back
The streets come alive at night, especially around the Spaccanapoli and the university. Piazza Dante is a stretch of coastline with bars and restaurants along the Castel dell Ovo. The Chiaia is a chic nightlife area that lies between Piazza Amadeo, Piazza Dei Martiri, and Piazza Dante.
7. Pastries, pastries, pastries
Naples isn’t known for its pizza. Fritti, seafood, and pasta are all top-notch. The bakery is the best. Because of Naples’ mixed heritage, from the 12th century to the 19th century, the French, Spanish, and Austrians all claimed control, and its pastries have absorbed the best of all foreign influences. You can’t miss the pastiera, baba, and zeppola.
8. Baroque and odd sculptures
The Capodimonte and archaeological museum are not the only places that offer art in Naples. The Cappello Sansevero is a chapel built in the 16th century that houses 18th-century sculptures from the late Baroque period. It’s full of emotive and outrageous sculptures. Giuseppe Sanmartino’s Veiled Christ is the most well-known. It is a masterful example of the expression, even though it has a veil covering its face.
The chapel also has sculptures of another type. These “anatomical models”, which are of 18th-century men, have their skeletons and arteries preserved. (The other theory that blood vessels are made of wire, beeswax and silk is less entertaining). Bodies was actually an exhibit that existed long before the modern era.
9. Scooter-dodging is an excellent adventure sport.
People often refer to Naples as “crazy” because of the scene it depicts: A motorino speeding down a cobblestone street at 50mph, scattering people along its path. Dad is in the front, Mom in the back, little Paolo squeezed between them. They don’t have helmets.
We don’t recommend that you ride a scooter in Naples, as we don’t believe it’s a good idea. Walking down the street can be enough adventure sport. It’s amazing to think that strolling through a city can be so much fun.
10. Let’s face it, you probably came here anyway.
Or at the very least, passing through. You’re close to Pompeii, Herculaneum, and the Amalfi Coast if you plan on taking a trip. You’ll most likely be passing through Naples if you are heading to these spots from Rome. Given the right reasons, wouldn’t it be a shame not to get on the train?