Naples (Napoli) is one of the oldest cities in the world, and one of the most fascinating places to visit in Italy. Fought over by the Spanish, the Greeks, the French and the Italians, this charming city has been a center of European culture for thousands of years. Today, the historic city center of Naples is a World Heritage Site.
A trip to Italy is simply not complete without spending some time exploring the highlights of this area. Here are 6 things you won’t want to miss on your trip to Naples, Italy.
Naples is where pizza was invented. You simply can’t come here and not have some. Make sure to order pizza vera napoletana, which is Naples style. It must be made in a wood burning brick oven. The dough must be made the day before, and allowed to rise for at least ten hours.
Note that pizza makers here (pizzaoili) must complete a two-year apprenticeship before they are allowed to make your pizza. Go to Da Michele. They make only two kinds of pizza here (margherita and marinara) and have been doing it for nearly 150 years.
Step Back in Time
Visit the Historic Center of Naples. Just grab a map, and wander the streets. The city was founded around 500 BC, and flourished as an independent kingdom for centuries.
The narrow streets and religious appeal give the historic district of Naples a unique feeling that many compare to Jerusalem. Walk down the Spaccanapoli, or the Via San Biago, which is the street that runs right through the heart of the district. It’s crammed with great shops and restaurants.
Make sure to visit this incredible chapel in the heart of the Historic District. It dates back to 1590, and is home to some of the most incredible works of art from the 18th century. The “Veiled Christ” was carved in the late 18th century by Guiseppe Sanmartino. Visitors say the veil covering the statue’s face looks as if it is made of thin fabric, instead of stone, and no one who looks on this sculpture remains unmoved.
Go to the Opera
The Teatro San Carlo in Naples is famous for its perfect acoustics. It’s also the oldest opera house still in operation anywhere in the world. Even if you don’t think you’ll enjoy the opera, it’s worth going once, and here is the place to do it.
Visit Pompeii and Herculaneum
Naples is the best place to stay if you plan on visiting one of Italy’s most popular and most tragic tourist attractions. In 79 AD, the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum were wiped out by a volcanic eruption that lasted for two days. Pompeii is the more popular, but Herculaneum is just as spectacular and much quieter. It is possible to see both in one day.
The catastrophic eruption of Mt. Vesuvius froze both of these cities in time, offering millions of visitors today a glimpse of a day in the life of a Roman city. The plaster casts of the volcano’s victims are haunting echoes of thousands of lives cut short.
If you’re not planning to venture south to Italy’s breathtaking Amalfi Coast, change your plans. You can’t come home without at least a day or two in one of the stunning coastal towns of Positano, Maiori or Capri.