Romance under the volcano
In a nutshell...
This sizzling southern Italian city spreads around a beautiful bay and is perfect if you like foreign trips with a buzz. To experience it at its best, stroll down the Spaccanapoli (‘split-Naples’) in the heart of the city and watch the Vespas dodge by. The gothic and baroque architecture is as bewitching as the crowded and colourful back streets with the washing lines strung out overhead.
The classic Neapolitan dish is the pizza and no trip to the city would be complete without a Margherita baked in a wood-fired oven. If the bustle of the city is too much, then it is easy to escape to the Roman settlement of Pompeii or along the coast into the volcanic landscape dominated by Mount Vesuvius.
- Mount Vesuvius The world’s best-known active volcano, it last erupted in 1944. Why not take a bus-ride there through orchards and vineyards and climb the zigzag path to the top where you will be rewarded with splendid views over the Bay of Naples?
- The Duomo Inside the cathedral is the Chapel of San Gennaro, where you can find the patron saint’s head and two phials of his blood. Gennaro himself is supposed to have saved the city from all manner of disasters, especially volcanic eruptions.
- Piazza del Gesu Nuovo This square is where the baroque church, Gesu Nuovo, and the gothic Santa Chiara are located. Santa Chiara has beautiful cloisters with plants and coloured tiles. Not to be missed.
- Pompeii The ruins of Pompeii are a city frozen in time -- 79 AD to be exact -- when Mount Vesuvius erupted and embalmed Pompeii and its inhabitants in ash. If you can’t make it here, then don’t miss the Museo Archeologico Nazionale which contains the best of the finds from Pompeii and Herculaneum.
- Certosa di San Martino Catch the delightful funicular railway to Vomero on the hilltop immediately behind the old town. The Certosa was a monastery in the 14th century and from the gardens, there are wonderful views of the Bay of Naples.
- Amalfi coast Hire a scooter, get your sunglasses and headscarf on and speed off along the Amalfi coastline, one of the most spectacular in Europe. There are hundreds of chic hotels where you can stop for a stylish drink.
- Castel dell’Ovo This is a Norman castle very near to the waterfront, surrounded by a picturesque tiny fishing village, the Borgo Marinaro.
Love bites and love potions
Neapolitan cuisine is superb and the pizza is the classic symbol of the city. However, if you like yours piled high with toppings, you’ll be disappointed. The two classic varieties are the Margherita (mozzarella, tomatoes, basil and olive oil) and the marinara, the same, but without the cheese. Head for Da Michele on Via Cesare for superb (and cheap) pizzas. Street markets around the Forcella quarter offer excellent snacks, but for more of a splurge visit the Caruso Roof Garden Restaurant on the ninth floor of the Grande Hotel Vesuvio, where you can enjoy delicious food and great views.
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