36 Hours in Naples, Italy


A city of glorious but tattered beauty, known for its vibrancy and, yes, a frisson of menace, Naples is now humming with visitors. In this Mediterranean capital watched over by the still-kicking Vesuvius volcano, tourist numbers have more than doubled since 2010, crime has dropped (notably, the murder rate is down 44 percent in 2018 over the previous year, according to the Ministry of the Interior), and the intransigent piles of trash are far fewer. Elena Ferrante’s beloved Neapolitan Novels (and the ongoing HBO adaptation of them) — along with the gritty “Gomorrah” books, movie and TV series — has roused curiosity about a destination long considered little more than a steppingstone to Capri, Ischia and Amalfi. And while the Museo Archeologico, with its extraordinary collection of antiquities, remains a bit neglected, most of the city’s art, culture and social scene are on an optimistic bender, and the charms of Naples — the Baroque excess, the indulgent cuisine, the mesmerizing fugue state of it all — beckon as they did in the city’s Grand Tour glory days.

On Via Toledo, the main street known as Spaccanapoli (“Naples splitter”), take the funicular to the upscale neighborhood of Vomero, a long sleepy enclave that’s home to a handful of spirited destinations. Start with Riot Laundry Bar, a concept store run by a young team, and a magnet for the reawakened music scene in Naples. Beyond the street wear and ecological jeans on offer, there’s an energetic ground-floor bar (beer, 5 euros) and Futuribile, a basement record shop with Italo disco, boogie and 1980s-era albums recorded in Naples. Opening at 8 p.m. up the block, Archivio Storico is improving the art of drinking in Naples with cocktails (around 10 euros) based on antique Neapolitan recipes as well as classic American styles, served in an underground network of intimate grotto rooms.

Just behind the waterfront promenade, Casa di Ninetta serves what the owner, Carmelo Sastri, calls “my mother’s and my grandmother’s home-cooking” in this decade-old operation run with his sister, the well-known Italian singer and actor Lina Sastri. Under an ornate, late-19th-century ceiling, with classical music in the background, the restaurant prepares magnificent renditions of Neapolitan traditions, like bocconcini di baccalà (fried codfish balls; 10 euros), and the dense onion ragù of pasta Genovese (11 euros). Cleanse your palate with a basil amaro from nearby Capri (6 euros), and stroll along the seaside to appreciate the ancient block of Castel dell’Ovo illuminated on the water.

The family-run Trattoria San Ferdinando offers a cozy respite from Naples’ hectic streets. At this establishment, whose butter-yellow walls are hung with copper pots and antique musical scores, the menu changes daily “according to nature,” as the owners like to say. The excellent fish-focused offerings may include dishes (around 12 euros each) like bass carpaccio marinated with oranges and lemons, or zigoli pasta with zucchini flowers, mussels and a light basil pesto. Desserts, like the velvety ricotta cake with orange marmalade, are equally enchanting.

Naples’ religious sites are marvels of artistry. Steps from the Duomo, the often-overlooked Donnaregina convent complex encompasses the soaring naves of two churches — a 14th-century, intricately frescoed Gothic church, and an extravagantly gilded Baroque church in multicolored marble as well as the Museo Diocesano, housing ecclesiastical artworks, mostly from the Naples school of painters, which includes the 17th-century painters Luca Giordano and Andrea Vaccaro. A few steps away, the 14th-century Santa Chiara cloister encircles a citrus garden ornamented with majolica-tiled columns and benches. Hand-painted by the ceramists Donato and Giuseppe Massa in the mid-1700s, the tiles, festooned with flowers, vegetables and storytelling scenes, were the exclusive delight of the nuns who lived there in seclusion for nearly 200 years, until monks took their place and opened the grounds to the public in 1925.

It’s a tenacious fight for the top coffee spot in Naples — the city is often said to serve the best espresso in Italy — where the local method produces a dense syrup of an espresso shot, often with a hefty dose of sugar already mixed in unless otherwise specified, and served alongside sparkling water to cleanse your palate beforehand. For an espresso in what is surely the most exquisite cafe in town, grab a red velvet cane chair in the gilt-edged rococo environs of Gambrinus (4 euros for a table-service espresso; 1.20 at the counter).


Airbnb offers affordable options throughout the city (average rate, $73), with plenty of stylishly modern apartments in the swankier Chiaia neighborhood.

The new wave of tourism has produced an elegant crop of small-scale modern hotels, like the eight-room Artemisia Domus (from 119 euros a night), which opened inside a former fourth-floor residence in 2018, rebuilt with wood beams, the remains of a fresco, and a few other original details intact. Some stairs are involved, but the hotel rewards you with spacious rooms, some with a sauna or Jacuzzi.

Located in Naples’ pretty, seaside Posillipo neighborhood, Primo Piano Posillipo (from 105 euros a night) — conceived by the architect Giuliano Andrea dell’Uva, and opened in February — is a colorful vision of contemporary style, showcased in its four airy rooms, including one with a stunning Mediterranean view.

For traditional grandeur, the 137-year-old, nine-story Grand Hotel Vesuvio (rooms with seaview balconies, from 290 euros), on Naples’ pedestrian waterfront, overlooks the Castel dell’Ovo and the Bay of Naples. Its upholstered walls, Murano chandeliers and liveried staff suggest the old-school sophistication of another age.


52 PLACES AND MUCH, MUCH MORE Follow our 52 Places traveler, Sebastian Modak, on Instagram as he travels the world, and discover more Travel coverage by following us on Twitter and Facebook. And sign up for our Travel Dispatch newsletter: Each week you’ll receive tips on traveling smarter, stories on hot destinations and access to photos from all over the world.



Source link Travel

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Important This site makes use of cookies which may contain tracking information about visitors. By continuing to browse this site you agree to our use of cookies.