Naples is a passionate and flamboyant city where food and family are the cornerstones of life. Resting on Italy’s southern Mediterranean shore, it sits in the shadow of the brooding Mount Vesuvius, its jumble of neighbourhoods sprawling along the Bay of Naples. Italy’s third-largest city is a contradictory and surprising place, where astounding archaeological treasures, cosmopolitan hotels, raucous markets and some of the country’s best restaurants have evolved together.
Holidays to Naples offer visitors a true taste of southern Italian flair. Spend days wandering the UNESCO-listed historic centre until churches and palaces become almost mundane, ferret out the best pizzerias, join the light-hearted chaos at a street market or soak up the thriving contemporary art scene underground in the Metro art stations.
The sea has long played an integral role in shaping Naples’ character, from its cuisine to its maritime history. Enjoy panoramas across the bay towards the Sorrentine Peninsula and Amalfi Coast or hop on a ferry for a day trip to one of the nearby islands. Often overlooked in favour of its more famous city counterparts, Naples is an eclectic and authentic hub that will surprise even the most seasoned travellers.
When it comes to ancient architecture, Naples might not be the first Italian city to come to mind. Yet the narrow winding streets of one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities are bursting with centuries-old palaces and statues, cathedrals and piazzas. Amble along the Spaccanapoli, the Roman-straight road which divides Europe’s largest historic centre, or go in search of the city’s main cathedral. With its unassuming façade tucked away down a side street, the magnificently ornate interior is one of Naples’ most impressive sights.
Pay a visit to the main square of Piazza del Plebiscito and revel in the grandeur of the Royal Palace and the church of San Francesco di Paola, which sit on either side on the square. And when the summer sun scorches, take respite in one of the many museums such as the Naples National Archaeological Museum, whose collection of Roman artefacts is one of the most extensive in the world. Here you will also find artefacts unearthed from beneath the layers of lava that decimated the Roman towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum in AD 79 when Mount Vesuvius erupted. The archaeological sites themselves are just outside Naples and make for an easy, rewarding day trip.
This city is the proud home of the pizza, and no holiday to Naples would be complete without savouring the rustic, hearty flavours of a just-baked margherita in a bustling neighbourhood restaurant. Naples’ cuisine is legendary, with centuries-old pasta and seafood dishes originating from ingredients sourced from the fertile volcanic soils and the fruits of the sea. The humble spaghetti, exotic shellfish and fruity gelato are famed Neapolitan ingredients and can be washed down with acclaimed wines or with the drinkable local delicacy, limoncello liqueur.