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EXPLORING NAPLES
 
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EXPLORING NAPLES

THE NORTHERN SEAPORT AREA OF THE CITY

Leaving Palermo, Sicily, on an overnight ferry we had little idea of what to expect in the morning. If true confessions were to be made, we were both thrilled to be heading towards the world capital of pizza, but we were a little concerned with all the negative press the city gets. Could it really be that dangerous? As it turned out, Naples is one of the more civilized places we've been. Pizza and food in general is extraordinary in Naples and there is so much more to be thrilled with, we can't say enough good things about this much maligned city and its very civilized citizens.

 

Before leaving Sicily on our way to Naples, we arranged a studio rental apartment in the city beginning a few days after our arrival and ending a few days before our departure. In the meantime the genteel old doctor who had rented us the apartment arranged with a friend of his to put us up in her guest house for a few days. This didn't work out and sitting on our luggage we called the doctor to see if he could make other arrangements. I think he was used to a younger more penurious clientele, but he got the idea quickly and arranged for us to stay at a lovely small hotel not far from the apartment he had rented to us.
 

We settled in and explored the neighborhood, getting referrals for the best local pizza and bread bakery and everything worked out beautifully. We went exploring and discovered this cafe with mother and son doing the cooking while dad manages the cash register.
 

Il Forno on Via Depretis, is a wonderful bread bakery with great breads, incredible focaccia and stombolis filled with sweet Italian sausage and spinach or broccoli rabe (on the left below). One generous slice of that with a glass of red wine makes a perfect lunch.

You can see the fellow in the photograph below on the right heading to the bakery. He's crossing the street with that decidedly Napolitano look of anxiety. It takes great courage to traverse the streets in Naples. Our maneuver was to wait until locals were crossing and then run right beside them. It worked beautifully and we often thanked our unwitting hosts when we got across safely.

Just to the right of Il Forno you will see a Salumeria that also carries a great extremely crusty loaf of bread favored by my husband.

 

The great Il Forno bakers

 

 
Leaving our hotel walking toward Castel Nuovo we eventually reached a small park with a very chic shop with this improbable name, Gelateria Pasticceria Cioccolateria Champagneria, Ristorante, Visual Bar Motus. As the name implies they have pastries, chocolates, wine and lots more. Try the cannolis.
 

 

 

 

 

Castel del Nuovo

 

 

Walking north from our hotel passing Castel Nuovo pictured above we found ourselves in the Piazza del Plebiscito, a stunning area of the city where you can spend a few days exploring.
 

San Francesco di Paola

 

 

With a great night time view to the lighted Castel Sant Elmo, this is a lively part of the city with an opera house and lots of chic places to shop or have a glass of wine while people watching.
 
A little more to the north you'll find another castle set on the tiny island of Sta. Lucia. This is a lovely area right by the sea that recently was converted into a pedestrians only area. Go on a Sunday and you'll really get a feel for life in Naples. There are strollers and swimmers and joggers and lots of folks entertaining their children. At one end of the park is an open air market with all sorts of treasures.
 

Sta. Lucia and Castello dell Ovo

 

Castel del Ovo

 

 

 

Dining by Castello-dell-Ovo

 

 
 

 

Aside from being extraordinarily stylish in a relaxed and comfortable manner, people in Naples and in Sicily are playful as you can see this fellow thought I was amusing taking so many photographs so he decided to take one of me.
 
 

 
 

NORTHERN SUBURBS OF THE CITY

Naples of course is a coastal city and development to the north is really worth seeing. Villas and gardens hugging cliffs over the ocean, wine shops and pizzerias, little parks, homes and apartment buildings all flowing together in Napoli style. The ride on city bus #140 takes maybe an hour or less and it's easy to hop another bus back. This is a cheap way to have a real tour as you travel with folks coming home or going to work or school. In getting to know the city I would put it right up there with visiting the Centro Storico.

One of the more interesting stops along this route is the Centro di Medicina Omeopatica Napoletano "Tommaso Cigliano." This is the well known college of homeopathy in Naples house in a beautiful historic building. Sede di Napoli: Viale Gramsci. 18 -- 80122, Tel: 081-761-4707 or 761-4722 Fax: 761-3665

 

Port Area and Northern Naples Food and Other Resources

One of the surprising things about Italy is the very high quality of food available at transportation facilities, train stations and ferry depots. Arriving back in Naples from a trip to Sorrento and Capri, I was almost stunned to see the foods for sale in the port facility. I guess there really is no where you are going to go hungry in Italy.

 

Gelateria Pasticceria Cioccolateria Champagneria, Ristorante, Visual Bar Motus
Plazza Municipio 5/6, Napoli 80133
Tel: +39-081-552-0262
Email: [email protected]
Website: www.motusinweb.it
Very good gelato, but skip the chocolates which nevertheless are very beautiful to look at.
 

Il Forno di Artiaco Anna
Via Depretis, 7, Napoli
Tel: 081-551-0473

San Marcos Hotel
Calata San Marco, 26
80133 Napoli
Tel/Fax: 39-081-552-0338

Website: www.smhotel.it
The first leg of our trip home, leaving Naples to return Florida was to be a very long day for us, flying first to London and then to Miami. Lorenzo, the charming young desk clerk in the photograph in late night at the San Marcos Hotel started our day perfectly, kindly making us a little breakfast to take along -- fruit, sweet rolls and bread buns.
 

THE OLD CITY -- Centro Storico Napoli

Sadly Centro Storico has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site which means the developers will be moving in and will soon replace much of this exquisite place with generic tourism product. I so hope that doesn't happen, but we have seen it so many times we have little expectation that its character will survive. For now it is a place to explore day after day taking in the sights and sounds and smells of this wondrous and vibrant place.

 
 

Santa Maria Maggiore

 

Museo Cappella Sansevero

This is a very small esoteric sort of creepy Catholic chapel, now a museum, where no photographs are allowed to be taken inside. Most well known for its white marble sculpture of the crucified Christ covered in an exquisitely thin burial cloth, it might better be known for the figure trying to escape from a marble fishing net if artistry were the appeal. There is also a basement of crypts that we didn't explore and I couldn't get out of there fast enough.

You'll look like a real pro if you stop at the corner before the museum and buy your ticket. Everyone arriving at the museum is turned away and sent back to the corner to buy their ticket which seems as creepy as the museum is itself. Surely a simple sign would have fixed the ticket problem.

 

UNESCO World Heritage Site

 
 

 

 

Santa Maria delle anime
del Purgatorio ad Arco

 

 

 

 

 

Chiesa di San Paolo Maggiore

 

Di Matteo Pizzeria pictured below is one of the most popular in all of Naples. Mid day it is always crowded with students from the nearby University. Everything is take away and all of it is fabulous. Try everything!

 

 

 

Conventuale di S. Gregorio Armeno

 

 

 

 
 

Furniture and Architectural Details in Miniature

 

Our friends Inge and Wolf have a lovely farm in Sweet Home, Oregon, with sheep and alpacas. Aside from wonderful wool crafts, Inge specializes in making miniatures. They are delightful so please take a look at their website. Click here Timber Wolf Farm

 
 

Naples University

 
 
 

 

These are just few of the shrines that dot the area, reminding me very much of Mexico.

 

These adorable figures are sold on the same street where you will find the notable Christmas ornaments that Naples is famous for.

 
 

 

Santa Chiara Basilica

 
 
Old City Food and Other Resources

Basilica San Lorenzo Maggiore
Via Tribunali, 316, Napoli
Tel: 081-211-0860
Website: www.sanlorenzomaggiore.na.it
Email: [email protected]
Strolling through the old city we stopped in and out of dozens of places and Basilica San Lorenzo Maggiore caught our eye and in we went. Timing is everything so I've heard and that held up here as we found ourselves in the middle of a wedding arrival. Oops!

Museo Cappella Sansevero
Via F. De Sanctis, 19/21
80134 Napoli (Italia)
Email: [email protected]
Website: www.museosansevero.it

SHOPPING
San Gregorio Armeno Street is the place to find miniatures and Christmas decorations of all kinds. This is also where you will find San Gregorio Armeno church.

FOOD
Gay-Odin srl, Fabrica di Chocolato e Geleteria
(Chocolate and Ice Cream)
Via Vetriera 12, 80132 Napoli
Tel: 081-417-843
Email: [email protected]
Website: www.gay-odin.it
I actually wasn't so impressed with this renowned chocolate shop as we had much better chocolate gelato elsewhere. It is worth a stop though, because it is just so stylish!

Pizzeria dei Matteo
Via Tribunale, 94
Tel: 081-455-262
Website: PizzeriadiMatteo.com

 

CENTRAL CITY AND THERE ABOUTS

 

This was our day to visit the National Archaeological Museum and we arrived early just when the museum opened to avoid the crowds that would come later. It proved to be an extraordinary morning. If you have an interest in sculpture and archaeology, do plan to put this on your list when you visit Naples. We had hoped to make a return visit, but ran out of days in Naples. We'll visit it again when we revisit Naples.

Undergoing what we've read are continual renovations which were indeed ongoing while we were there, nevertheless the museum is a treasure and should not be missed. If you are genuinely interested in sculptural art or Greek and Roman history, go early in the morning when with fewer visitors there you can really enjoy the experience. If it is a check list experience for you go later in the day when you will enjoy being with people from all over the world.

 

 

 

 

Leaving the museum and getting hungry at mid-day we decided to walk back toward our little apartment passing by the Pignasecca market on the way. Along the way we stopped in every little food joint we passed, but two on Piazza Dante stopped us in our tracks that day and still make us yearn to be back in Naples. Take a look at this food and see if you don't get hungry too!

 

Pizza Bra' has wonderful foods of all kinds and a lot of it is ready to go. We found it on Piazza Dante just a little past Vaco e Press which truly is my favorite as we were walking from the Archaeological Museum to go shopping at the Pignasecca market.
 

The Pignasecca market is alive and well and thrilling! Not far from the port area, close enough to walk, and about the same distance from the old town, this can be an every day event and well it should be!

Stroll as you go from place to place; you'll end up with lots of wonderful food you couldn't possibly eat in a day or maybe even two and all of it is wonderful!

 

This glorious fresh cooked fish made in our little kitchen gives you a reason for renting an apartment rather than staying in a hotel. If you like to cook, you will have an encyclopedia of exquisite foods to choose from. We had an apartment for a week in the middle of a fifteen day stay in Naples and it seemed perfect. At the apartment we got to feel like we were moving in to the city and at the hotel we got to feel pampered like visitors -- a great combination!
 

 

Pictured to the right is one of those everyday architectural treasures in Naples. I think only in Italy do things decay in such a pleasing way. This is an ordinary house facing the side of the Naples Botanical Garden.

On the other side of the street just down a half block is maybe the best bakery and fresh pasta shop in all of Naples -- Tarallificio & Pasticceria Leopoldo. It is extraordinary in a city of real stars.

 

Found in a busy commercial and residential area of the city, the Orto Botanico Napoli or Naples Botanical Garden is a treasure. We spent two mornings there and were we living in Naples, this would be our second home. It is one more of the not to be missed sites in Naples. To see photographs of their many special plants visit my website,

GreenGardeningCookingCuring.com.

For folks with disabilities there is a side entrance where you can communicate by speaker and cameras with their security office. You don't need to speak Italian, simply make your problem evident. They will open the gate for you so that you can avoid the many stairs at the main entrance. Something amazing is that the garden is free for everyone to enjoy!

On our first visit we missed seeing the bakery across the street from the entrance, but we got lucky on our second visit and each of us had a bag of goodies to munch on as we strolled through the gardens.

Because this is a university based garden, almost everything is well identified and plants range from huge exotic trees to desert plants to ferns to terrarium plants to... You name it, they've got it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CENTRAL CITY AND THEREABOUTS -- FOOD AND OTHER RESOURCES

ABSOLUTELY NOT TO BE MISSED

MADRE -- Museo D'Arte Contemporanea Donna Regina
Via Settembrini 79
Regardless of the collection it might house or the special exhibitions it may be mounting, visiting this building is an experience in itself. When we were there something unfortunate had happened and most of the permanent collection had been removed. The staff were upset and many gallery spaces were closed. Still we vowed to return before leaving Naples. It was a very special place. I truly regret that in the morning that day I decided to leave the camera behind.

National Archaeological Museum
Museo Archaeologico Nazionale di Napoli
Piazza Museo, 19
80135 Napoli
Tel: 0039-081-44-22-149
Fax: 0039-081-44-0013
Open from 9:00 AM to 7:30 PM Everyday except Tuesday and January 1, May 1 and December 25
Entrance free for those EU citizens under the age of 18 or over the age of 65 (bring proof)

Botanical Gardens -- Orto Botanico di Napoli
Via Foria 223
Tel: 081-253-3937

FOOD
Pizza Bra' Pizzeria, Braceria, Paninoteca, Sfizioseria
Piazza Dante, 73, Napoli
Website: pizzabra.com
Facebook: pizzabra
Tel: 081-564-1946

Tarallificio & Pasticceria Leopoldo
Via Foria, 212, Napoli
Tel: 081-451-166

Vaco e Press
Piazza Dante

 

THE SOUTHERN END OF NAPLES

The heart of the city's transportation systems is here in the southern part of Naples -- the city's central bus station and the city's train station. Put those two together and you almost always get chaos and Naples is no exception. Add to the transportation links, many of the city's street markets and you can imagine the result. We visited this area first to see the Garibaldi market and second to board a train south to Sorrento where we would go to Capri by ferry.

I read somewhere that the Garibaldi Market is the most genuine of food markets in Naples, but that seems in error.

We took a bus across almost the entire city and risked our lives getting across incredible vehicular congestion to get there. It was a tired place even on the weekend when normally things are hopping and wonderful fresh foods are overflowing in any street market we have visited. In comparison, this market seems to be hanging on by a thread. Maybe its customers have found somewhere else to shop.

 

Garibaldi Market

 

Sorrento and Capri Day Trip
One day in Naples we made our way southwest to the central train station which is large, relatively clean and efficient if your native language is Italian. If not, you'll need your wits about you trying to figure out where and how and what train track. Nevertheless it can be done by not very intrepid travelers as we met older folks coming from cruise ships who had not a clue, but sill had found their way to the right train track. They were glad to see us and to get confirmation that they were in the right place at the right time to get where they were going.

We were taking the train south to Sorrento planning from there to take a ferry to Capri and another back to Naples. The train itself was ugly and, leaving the city, we traveled first through a high rise ghetto and then graffiti covered run down neighborhoods and gritty commercial factory towns most of the way.

In contrast, the attractive Sorrento train station sits high on a hill overlooking the town below. One can imagine rolling all the way to the water.

Sorrento is a lovely, done-to-death, resort where you can have an ideal week long idle holiday. It also has easy ferry access to offshore islands. One of the best known is Capri which was done to death many years ago and now has become a day trippers' paradise, like us. That day with everyone else on the ferry, we were there in an all day drenching rain which definitely put a damper on things.

 

 

 

 

Capri in the Rain

 

NAPLES AND SICILY ESSENTIALS -- FOOD AND MORE

FOOD FIRST

Mozzarella di Bufalo Campan MORGESE truly fabulous

Gellato, Centro Storico, Via Benedetto Croce 61, Napoli

Pizza vs focaccia
Pizza is something thin cooked in about 5 minutes usually in a brick oven. Focaccia is thicker and often served at room temperature, but much more like what many Americans think of as pizza. For me the best pizza I ate in Sicily or Naples was at a little bakery in a small Sicilian town we passed through while trying to avoid driving directly through Palermo. It was on the main street across from a primary school. We stopped in to get some supplies for the road ahead and I ended up eating most of it while poor Stassi was driving. The baker was there bringing out the goodies. Bless her heart!

Pistachios are grown in Sicily. Who would have thought? What it means is that the very best pistachio ice cream or gelato is right there and it is not dyed that peculiar acid green color as it is in the United States.

In Sicily gelato is often served on a bread roll. This seemed very peculiar.

Sfogliatella, Arancino, frittatina, Crocche' Suppli' -- these are some of the best foods in the world.

 
This delicate paper thin pastry is exquisite all by itself, but it is often filled with sweetened creamy ricotta cheese.
 

Coffee in Naples is considered one of the essential food groups. You'll find fabulous coffee bars on every block of the city.

Stop by and visit bakeries
Bakeries will have wonderful lunch foods ready around 10 or 11 AM. These will almost always include fresh bread of course, but often a variety of toppings on focaccia slices too. If you are lucky, you'll also find some of the fried treats of this part of Italy. You will save a huge amount over the cost of having even a simple meal in a restaurant and can pile up your change for a real splurge for dinner.

EVERYTHING ELSE

Night time streets in Naples after 9:00 P.M. are extremely quiet. The only folks we saw out strolling were visitors to the city like ourselves.

Smoking is still very popular in Italy, though it does seem to be a more restricted activity than it was about five years ago when we were last in the country. Try to avoid being judgmental about it.

Sicily -- remember it is an island and you are rarely far from a beach even if you can't see it

Negotiate, negotiate and negotiate some more and do it with humor and a little style for the best results.
If you do, you will end up with some significant savings.

Consider camping
Campsites are very professionally run and offer solidly built bungalows or fully equipped trailers for less than you will pay for an equivalently equipped hotel room. Plus you will normally have your own comfortable outside area to enjoy evening dining.

Stay away from traveling in summer months
Unless you actually enjoy being in crowded circumstances with long lines and impatient service, traveling in the summer months almost anywhere in the world will be disappointing. Give a go in the late spring or early fall for an opportunity to see countries at their very best.

When you can, use the internet to find hotels and even campsites.
Even if you use the internet in the morning to find a hotel for that evening you very well might find some good savings. And you will have the added advantage of knowing you'll have a bed to sleep in that night.

Traffic
I haven't touched too much on traffic, but I think Italians in this part of the country have made it something of a suicide mission. I don't know how there's anyone left. To get across streets, try looking for some Neapolitans to come along and cross right beside them. This worked very well, though after about a week we began to get the rhythm of just how to negotiate the chaos without their help.

Dressing
Dress is usually very stylish, but casual and men generally seem to dress more carefully than women.

Courtesy
Italians are extremely civilized and you should be too!

 

 

 

 

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