Naples is Italy's third-largest city and is one of its oldest, most delicious and can also be one of its most charming. The first time I visited Naples was on a school trip to Italy in 2007 where we spent two weeks travelling around Italy's most beautiful cities and historic sites. We spent two nights in Naples so that we could visit the archaeological sites of Pompeii and Herculaneum as well as Naples. Our visit unfortunately fell during one of the infamous bin strikes that Naples has had over the years and so my memories of the city were tainted by the piles of stinking garbage which were piled high in the streets. We returned recently on our way to the Amalfi Coast and spent a night in Naples and had the most perfect afternoon and evening exploring the city. I am so glad I gave Naples another chance... it's a city that is crazy, dirty and busy but also has an incredible history, magical buildings, beauty and charm along with being the home of pizza!
Italy is one of the world's most visited countries but many don't visit Naples which has attracted a bad name for itself over the years for a number of reasons. During our recent trip we were lucky enough to rediscover Naples and all her charms. Naples has something for everyone from pizza to volcanoes to history to natural beauty! The historical centre of Naples is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, its archaeological treasures are among the world's most impressive, it has an incredible collection of palaces, castles and churches and sits in the shadows of the looming but magnificent active volcano, Mt Vesuvius which devastated the region almost 2,000 years ago!
Having studied Ancient History at both School and University I absolutely love Italy and find Roman history to be thrilling! One of our main topics of study in Year 12 was Pompeii & Herculaneum and to visit them as a very impressionable 17 year old who'd only ever left Australia to fly across to New Zealand was an experience which truly shaped who I am today. I learnt more in Italy during those two weeks than I felt I'd learnt in a year at school, I fell in love with travel and my love affair with all things Italy began. Now, on my fourth visit to this beautiful country I still love it more than ever and my passion for Italy has rubbed off on Dan who now considers it to be one of his favourite countries in the world as well.
Life in Naples is hectic and everything takes place at full throttle. I still can't believe we didn't get run over during our 24 hours in the city, scooters literally drive along the footpath and through pedestrian piazzas just so they don't have to sit through one set of traffic lights! People completely ignore pedestrian crossings and as far as first impressions go, Naples is dirty and could use a good scrub, clean up and the buildings could use a good paint job. Once you take the time to look beyond the grime, rubbish, graffiti and peeling paint you'll discover a city full of beauty, charm and history.
As you stroll down streets trying not to get run over by rouge vespas and mad taxi drivers you'll stumble across elegant streets, stunning historical buildings and charming cafes serving up the most incredible pizza you can possibly imagine. Naples is blessed with rich volcanic soils, healthy seas and centuries of culinary know-how and served up some of the country's best pizza, pasta, coffee and seafood. It's been a week and half since Naples and we're still in Italy and are yet to find pizza as good as Naples pizza, but when they are the home of pizza that is just how it should be!
As soon as we arrived in Naples we checked into our lovely boutique hotel, Santa Brigida Naples and set out in search of pizza immediately! Once we'd filled up on incredible Neapolitan pizza we strolled along the port to the seafront where we admired three of Naples best castles: Castel dell'Ovo, Castel Nuovo and Castel Sant'Elmo and couldn't keep our eyes off the majestic Mt Vesuvius which dominates the region. We watched an incredible sunset over the water before strolling back through the historical centre for more pizza!
Naples is also perfectly situated for setting off on adventures around the region including to the gorgeous Amalfi Coast which is one of our favourite places in the world, the gorgeous islands of Capri, Ischia and Procida and to the archaeological sites of Pompeii and Herculaneum which are incredible and well worth visiting.
Despite its dodgy, dirty image, Naples is an Italian city which is full of unique charm, beauty, incredible food and an ideal location for visiting incredible sites in the region. I'm so grateful we took the opportunity to return as it has completely changed my opinion on Naples, a city which is unlike any other in the world and truly proves that there is beauty everywhere you look.