Napoli "In Five"
It’s true, you’ve not tasted real pizza until you’ve eaten the craftsmanship of Napoli. With so much to choose from, here are my three recommendations for the city of carbs:
Concettina ai Tre Santi
All three serve a mean margarita (the absolute staple classic in my opinion!), and I’m told their other offerings are pretty impressive too. I’ll let you decide which is your favourite, but be mindful of long queues and sometimes brusque Napoletano service… Sorbillo and Starita also definitely offer gluten free bases.
We split our trip to Napoli in two, heading to Palermo (click for my Palermo in 5!) in between. This meant we were able to try out two hotels: The Dante House, and The Foria House; both belonging to the same small group. These boutique stays are probably exactly what you need for a city break – both accessible, well-appointed with funky furniture, and the breakfast is a pretty good start to the day too. Perhaps most usefully: the staff are friendly and more than willing to offer tips and tricks for the city. The Foria House even has a garden that we pretty much had the run of during our stay (perfect for takeaway pizza from Starita). In my opinion the only thing that let both of these properties down were the beds – if you’re looking for luxurious sheets and fluffy pillows for long sleepy mornings, then these hotels are probably not for you. But for an affordable and stylish stay in small and locally run hotels that give you the run of the city, you can’t really go wrong.
Hardly a unique experience in Italy, but cornetti and cannoli abound here! You also simply have to enjoy the Sfogliatella from Cuori di Sfogliatella – conveniently located opposite Napoli Centrale station. And for all of you who need or want to limit your gluten intake, check out the entirely gluten free branch of the city’s Leopoldo café’s – super close to the Archaeological museum. Don’t forget, if you only want counter service for that quick sugar and caffeine hit, then Italians usually pay for their food and drink first, before then taking the receipt to pick up their pastries and coffee from the right spot in the shop!
There’s not much in the way of a public transport system in Napoli, not if you’re used to the expansive London Underground like me! BUT there are a few Metro lines and bus services that will get you to the main points if you’re not able to walk around easily. But, if you can, then I’d recommend taking this city on by foot. I think the best way to get to know a place is to see it whilst pounding the streets, so grab a bottle of water, stop for regular espresso breaks and inhale the sights and smells of this chaotic city – both the appealing and the less so! Don’t forget to take the opportunity to cool off and find some peace in the magnificent Cathedral, and on your way, walk through the Via San Gregorio Armeno - where you'll find some quirky craftsmanship for sale – including some rather elaborate nativity scenes…
Whilst not in Napoli proper, it would seem wrong to visit the area and not spend at least a couple of hours exploring this memento of the past. It was a truly haunting experience for me, and not at all what I was expecting! Other writers with far greater prosaic ability than I have waxed lyrically about this ancient city, and so I’ll keep this one brief, but it is well worth a visit. Oh – and keep an eye out for the signs of life bursting forth amongst the crumbling walls: splashes of colour and hope dot the surroundings to raise the spirits of those exploring this treasure trove of history.