Napoli: The City of Hidden Treasures
A Student’s Secrets of Sorrento Napoli: The City of Hidden Treasures
When planning a trip to Italy, you always hear about must-see attractions in the big-name cities: Rome, Milan, Florence. Because of this, Naples often gets overlooked as a tourist destination, despite the fact that it is one of Italy’s largest cities. It is also one of the oldest— it existed even before Rome did! Sometimes, Naples does get a bad reputation for being “dangerous,” but I can assure you that it is no more frightening than any other large city anywhere in the world. More importantly, it is a beautiful place packed with history, fantastic food, and great shopping.
Before the Romans even discovered it, Naples was a bustling port city full of various cultures. So many different civilizations have existed in the location of Naples over thousands of years that they actually have a hard time building anything new in the city— they keep finding too many ancient ruins and artifacts during construction! Luckily, some ancient buildings still exist above ground, allowing you to see history with your very own eyes. It seems as if on nearly every corner, you can find a new museum to explore or an elaborate church to marvel at.
Some of the most interesting places to visit are the many castles in Naples, such as the Castel Nuovo, Castel dell’Ovo, or Castel Sant’Elmo. Not only are these great places to learn a little bit about the past, they also provide stunning views of the city and the Bay of Naples.
If food is your thing (and honestly, who doesn’t love food?), then Naples is definitely the place for you. It was the birthplace of pizza! This makes it the best city not just in Italy, but in the entire world to grab your favorite slice. It will absolutely be the most delicious and authentic pizza you’ll ever have. Besides pizza, you can also find some of the freshest classic southern Italian dishes, as well as a large selection of international cuisines! Just make sure you save room for dessert, because the pasticcerias are bursting with scrumptious pastries— you’ll smell their sweet scents wafting into the street as you walk by! Don’t leave without trying the local specialty: sfogliatella. It’s crafted out of countless layers of flaky pastry dough and often filled with creamy ricotta cheese and sweet candied citron. Yum!
When you get the urge to indulge in some retail therapy, Naples offers a combination of both local and international brands in the form of hundreds of stores. The largest and most popular shopping street is Via Toledo. You can spend a whole day wandering up and down this mostly pedestrian area, shopping until you drop. If you’re looking for some souvenirs or handmade goods, take a walk down the narrow main street of Naples’ historic district, Spaccanapoli. Here, and in the small streets that branch off of it, you’ll find plenty of street vendors and small shops selling local artisan goods and colorful Naples souvenirs.
Naples is a fantastic city bursting with culture. It exemplifies the welcoming friendliness of Southern Italy, while also offering access to historic sights, various delectable cuisines, and many opportunities to shop. It’s worth it to take a day out of your vacation, or even a weekend, and plan a trip there. There’s nothing to be afraid of in Naples— except for maybe eating a little too much pizza!
(This article was also published in the “Surrentum” (Sorrento, Italy) in 2016).