Two years ago, just before the pandemic took over Europe, I was on my last “unmasked” trip. The destination: Naples, Italy, which I will refer to as “Napoli” (it’s the Italian name, and it comes easier to me).
I had four days to spend here and tried to make the best of it. The accommodation was an apartment in the Materdei neighbourhood, close to the Materdei subway station and one of the oldest pizza restaurants in Napoli: Starita.
We arrived in the evening and only had time for dinner: takeaway pizza from a place nearby (not Starita though, as the queue was to the street corner).
The next day, a very sunny one, we decided to visit the Island of Capri. To get there, we took a ferry from Napoli. Once in Capri, there are small buses that take you up to the small town at the top of the island. From there, there are several directions you can go. We didn’t exactly plan what to do on Capri, so we just decided to let our feet take us someplace, knowing, from the moment we stepped on the island, that it will be beautiful everywhere.
First, we reached Belvedere di Punta Cannone, a spot from where you could admire a gorgeous view. Then, we somehow got back to the center and started in a different direction, eventually reaching the Arco Naturale, a rock formation resembling a huge arc, creating some other amazing views of the sea.
What you have to keep in mind is that these spots, although beautiful, were really just the cherries on top of an already wonderful cake. All the winding roads, the white houses, the trees and flowers, and the overly enthusiastic sun made Capri a heaven on earth kind of place. You know, the kind you dream of retiring to someday.
If you have the time, I recommend you spend at least one full day on Capri, as it has so many things to offer, besides the two I mentioned, such as grottoes, parks, and forts.
The following day was reserved for Pompei, the ruins of the ancient city once covered in ash by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. We reached the town by train, a trip that took about 40 minutes from Napoli. The site of the ruins is incredibly big – truly an entire stone city. The atmosphere was heavy, foretelling a storm. Dark clouds were gathering over and combined with the tragic story of the city, it made for a sombre visit. However, if you are in this region of Italy, I do believe you should make a stop in Pompei. Another similar site can be found at Herculaneum. We made a stop there as well, had lunch at a café near the train station, and had a look at the archaeological site from above and decided to skip it, as we found it quite similar to Pompei, except a bit smaller.
Finally, a full day in Napoli. We started the day with a tour of Napoli’s Sotterranea (underground tunnels). 10/10 recommend. It was great! Squeezing through the incredibly narrow stone tunnels, finding out more about the city’s history… a great experience overall. Afterward, we wandered a bit more around the old town then walked towards the sea, took pictures with the wolves in Piazza Municipio, marvelled at Castle Nuovo, the Royal Palace, and Ovo Castle. We also enjoyed a long walk on Napoli’s waterfront, getting a better sense of the city as a seaside destination. We had a great lunch at a restaurant near Ovo Castle. Several fancy restaurants lined the docks of the old marina and we stopped at La Scialuppa, where I had some tuna and salad. Staying on the food topic, in the evening, we finally got a table at Starita, the pizza restaurant near our apartment, and enjoyed a very original Neapolitan pizza.
On the last day of the trip, as we still had some time to kill before leaving for the airport, we decided to visit the Archaeological Museum of Napoli, a building we kept passing by on our strolls through the city.
All in all, Napoli is worth a visit. For the pizza, for the castles, the underground, the museums, and waterfront walkways. And of course, for the other attractions nearby, such as Capri or Pompei. Not to mention that, if you have more time and perhaps decide to rent a car, spend some time on the Amalfi Coast and visit Sorrento and Positano. I also hear the Island of Ischia is worth visiting, so really, there’s plenty to do in the region for at least a full week.