Back in October I went for a week to the wonderful city of Naples. The place is simply stunning. Old grand buildings, narrow streets and beautiful churches make for magic surroundings. Naples is run down which adds to its charm: graffiti everywhere, rubbish, buildings falling down. Somehow it all works.
Culture wise there is whole lot to do with the finest museum of archeology, good share of modern art galleries and easy access to world’s most famous sites.
On our first day we took a 30 minute hydrofoil ride to Capri. The island is so beautiful with its colorful houses, abundunce of flora and fantastic coastal views. We took a hike from Capri Town to Arco Naturale, Grotta di Matermania and Belvedere do Tragara. It’s a fifteen minute walk through the island to reach the most fantastic views and not many other tourists, most people aim at the antient Villa Jovis. We stopped at a cave that used to be a shrove to water nymphs, followed the coastal track where we passed a bizzare Bond-ish looking villa, this used to belong to Curzio Malaparte, a Tuscan writer. The hike takes about hour and a half, I absolutely loved the views. The track leads back to Capri Town where we had a quick lunch at a local deli, R. Buonocore. Fantastic mini pizzas and good esspresso. We also stocked up on super delish cookies loaded with Amalfi lemons (they are truely incredible), almonds and hazelnuts.
Our second stop was the other caprese town – Anacapri. Trying to escape all the German turists we took another hike off the beaten track and reached Belvedere di Migliera. There are two viewing points of the sea and the coast.
Travel through Capri is very easy, from the harbour you can take the furnicular to Capri Town, buses also operate between the towns and the island’s harbour.
A piece of advise – don’t buy anything in the harbour, the prices are insane.
On the second day we decided to make another day trip. We took the Circumvesuviana train to Pompeii. I don’t have to rave about this place, it is one of the world’s most amazing archeological sites. We spent good five hours walking through the ruins and didn’t manage to see everything. Amazing, amazing, amazing.
Back in Naples, it was my other half’s birthday and we set off to have a nice dinner. We went to Piazza Bellini, a charming little square, had fabulous Aperol spritzers and…..Bellinis. Afterwards we started our hunt for a perfect little cafe, first we followed the Lonley Planet guide, this failed, we wandered into Piazza Dante and saw a tiny place, full of locals and decided it was it. We ended up having a proper Italian feast, starting with simple grilled veg and bread, good local red wine (they believe in local produce, the wine list consisted of one white and one red option, loved it), followed by spaghetti a la vongole for one and gnocchi with simple tomato sauce and mozzarella for the other. By this point we were rather full. As it happened to be end of the night all of a sudden we were served small portions of potato pasta, followed by bean pasta, followed by fried calzoni! We could not move, it was all really delicious but way too much, we had to try it all as it seemed to upset our waiter when we didn’t. Needless to say we did not order a dessert. The restuarant doesn’t like to waste anything and gives food away at the end of service. The place is called Leon D’Oro.
|Pasta a la vongole||Bean pasta|
|Gnocchi with tomatoe sauce||Potatoe pasta|
Following day, to burn the calories, we decided on a hike up Vesuvius. Short ride on Circumvesuviana train to Ercolano and crazy mini bus ride up the mountain takes you to the bottom of the crater. Even though it was a sunny day Vesuvius was covered by clouds, we walked in total fog and started to literally melt – my hair was dripping with water and any cream or sunscreen was rejected by our skin. Unfortunatelly we couldn’t see much when we reached the peak which was a shame but hopefully we will be back one day.
Mount Vesuvius looming over Pompeii
One could travel to many places round Naples – all the ancient sites, lovely towns and islands however it was time for us to see some of Naples. We decided to loose ourselves in Centro Storico. The old area has got many narrow streets, churches, cafes and weird shops selling nativity figurines, it was so nice to just stroll through them and observe the city life go by. There are lots of small altars peppered everywhere (one of Diego Maradona!) and lots of graffiti by different gangs marking their territory. In the evening we popped into the city’s biggest modern art museum, Madre. I consider myslef very lucky to catch the Robert Rauschenberg show, the permanent collection wasn’t very exciting but it did have few good pieces. The day was finished by a dinner at a very sweet pizza place. The pizza in Naples is the best.
Pizza with tomatoes, mozzarella and rocket
Calzone with ricotta and tomatoes
We also visited the Museo Archeologico Nazionale which houses a lot of finds from Pompeii, Herculaneum and other ancient sites. You need to spend a good few hours there to see everything and definitely get the gallery guide which costs few Euros as the exhibit descriptions are very poor. The museum houses lots of sculptures, artefacts, wonderful mosaics and a secret room with the biggest collection of ancient porn ever discovered.
After the archeological overload we headed for a bite to eat, back at Piazza Dante we popped into a local eaterie for bowl of courgette and shrimp pasta and a cabbage risotto. It was glorious.
Pasta with courgettes and shrimps
Cabbage risotto with speck
The last gallery we had time for was PAN, the current exhibitions were not very exciting but the building is quite amazing.
I shouldn’t forget to mention the bakery goods and sweets. The Neapolitans are true masters in making pastries, the most famous one being sfogliatelle – flaky pastry filled with ricotta custard filling of orange flavour. Had one every day. They are also amazing at making chocolate, a curious kind, rich and not very sweet, very very good. I brough a lot of it home form Gay Odin.
After return to England I had to go on a carb free diet but it was worth it. I’d go back to Naples any time and I surely will be back as there is lots of Amalfi coast left to see.