The Sights and Tastes of Naples
Naples is a city truly unlike any other in Italy, in its appearance, its attitude, and its soul.
It is a place with some of the most stunning architecture in Europe, with crumbling palazzos, opulent cathedrals, and grand squares built across millennia. It is comprised of colorful local neighborhoods where scooters speed through narrow alleyways and old ladies yell from their balcony to their neighbors walking down below. The food is easily one of the best in Italy, with local flavors that are overwhelmingly delicious.
Naples truly invigorates the senses with sounds, sights, smells, and unbelievable flavors like you’ve perhaps never known anywhere else. To help you get the full travel experience, we’ve listed a few things that should help you see and taste what it is that makes it such a special place to visit.
The architecture and unique ancient neighborhoods tell the story of centuries of foreign kingdoms that ruled Naples, with particular influence of the Spanish and French. There are remarkable churches such as the 13th-century Cathedral of Naples and the 14th-century Basilica of Santa Chiara, the awe-inspiring famous glass-ceilinged Galleria Umberto, and the countless crumbling yet still decadent and beautiful palaces throughout the city. It would take a lifetime to know every incredible architectural sight in Naples, but a simple wander around for a few days is enough to create an amazing impression of historical decadence.
There are a wide variety of neighborhoods throughout the city which give their own unique taste of local culture. The once dangerously forbidden Quartieri Spagnoli is now beloved for its narrow alleyways full of incredible restaurants and places to grab a drink. The high-class nightlife and luxury shopping district of seaside Chiaia will appeal to those looking for a more refined version of Naples. The energized center of pedestrianized Spaccanapoli will capture your imagination and make you feel the buzz of the city with its non-stop offering of pastel-colored cathedrals, squares packed with people, and a wonderful selection of restaurants.
Throughout the day, one has ample opportunity to enjoy a delicious drink done exceptionally well in Naples. As a ritual to get the morning started, it’s typical to head to a café and grab an espresso. Making these incredibly dark, rich, sweet shots of coffee is an art form in Naples and the result will give you enough of a caffeinated energy surge to push you into your activities throughout the day.
For oenophiles, it is recommended to try the fantastic local wines from the local Campania region. This grape growing region with its location by the sea, a warm and temperate climate, rich soil and plenty of sun, is the perfect environment to create a number of lovely wine varietals. A few recommendations would be to enjoy a full-bodied Aglianico red wine with your pasta or meat, or a sweet and fruity Falanghina white to pair with your fish or cheese.
Finally, what better way to end a meal than with a tiny glass of locally made limoncello? Made with incredibly sweet lemons from the land surrounding Mount Vesuvius, you’ll enjoy this strong, refreshing lemon liqueur to help cleanse the palate and send you off joyously into the night.
Food is an essential part of enjoying life to its fullest in Italy, and Naples is no exception. Here the traditional specialties stand out in how incredibly indulgent, bright and delicious they are. Dishes are made with fresh, local ingredients from the land and sea and done in an old-world style that will make anyone a lifelong fan of Neapolitan cuisine.
With the city’s location on the Bay of Naples, you always have incredible access to freshly caught seafood. Typical dishes such as the ever-decadent shellfish platter piled high with oysters, shrimp, lobster, and mussels. Or you can go with bite-sized, savory, chargrilled baby octopus or light and crispy fried calamari. Whatever your taste in seafood, the choices in Naples are seemingly endless and are always delicious.
Of course, Naples is famous for being the home of pizza, and upon the first bite, you will immediately understand why this simple, yet flavorful pie is truly the best in the world. Using just a few high quality ingredients --including dough made of Italian “tipo 00” flour, lovely Mozzarella di Bufala cheese, and sauce made from San Marzano tomatoes grown in the rich soil of Mount Vesuvius—the pizza is then cooked in a wood-fired oven, giving you a mouthwatering treat that you’ll be sure to have more than once when in Naples.
If you happen to be hungry on the go as you explore the city, Naples has you covered with incredible street food offerings. You can grab a crispy deep fried pizza, or a deep-fried rice ball stuffed with cheese and ham known as an arancino. Or for lighter fare, a delicious grilled Panini sandwich with melted cheese and vegetables. Eating fast doesn’t mean not eating well in Naples.
For dessert, one can indulge in an incredible selection of sweets. A visit to a pasticceria, or Italian pastry shop can offer you a number of enticing choices, like a cannoli so big that you need two hands to eat it or a warm, freshly baked sfogiatelle stuffed with sweet ricotta and dusted with powdered sugar.
Whether exploring its unique neighborhoods, visiting its inspiring cathedrals, or tasting its incredible food and drinks, Naples is undeniably a unique place to experience for any visitor. We hope you enjoy the wild ride and the incredible local delights that the city has to offer.
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