Naples is one of the oldest cities in the western world and is known for its ancient ruins, the Museo Archeologico Nazionale, beautiful medieval palazzos, its famous pizza (invented in Naples) and an abundance of art and culture to explore. The city though is sometimes avoided by tourists since its often associated with the mafia an trash-filled streets. However, in 2011 the Neapolitans elected a new mayor who was determined to eradicate the city of crime and garbage. He succeeded and the city has become a much cleaner and safer place.
After our visit to the splendid and peaceful Amalfi Coast, we took the train back to Naples to explore the city. Below you’ll read about some cool places we visited.
NAPLES – ITALY
MY ORANGE SPOTS
Our favorite district in Naples was the area around Piazza Bellini including Constatinopoli street where you can find several interesting food spots and cafés. The atmosphere is good and laid back which is excellent when having drinks at one of the terraces. This area comes alive at night which is the best time to plan a visit. Yet, Piazza Bellini is also nice for lunch. Try the kebab and humus panini at Il Caffe Arabo or the tagines (stews) at night. If you had enough of eating pizza and pasta, go to this quarter for its many multicultural restaurants.
Il Caffe Arabo – Middle Eastern Cuisine
Address: Piazza Bellini 64
We like to do it the Italian way so before having dinner we enjoy a cocktail, prosecco or Spritz Aperol combined with a bite. The Italian happy hours are famous for the excellent food and bites that are served in addition to the drink you order. Mostly you get so much antipasti that you’re stuffed before you even start dinner.
We had a great antipasti dish with our prosecco at St. James Pub at Piazza Bellini (18:00-20:00 happy hour) for only €5!
LA STANZA DEL GUSTO – A great spot for foodies
A nice Italian fusion cuisine with a gastronomic touch. The food’s not only excellent, the presentation of the dishes is outstanding as well as the personal service. Very attractive and creative interior which is eclectic but coherent and appealing to the eye. On the menu are food combinations not traditional to the Neapolitan cuisine, so no pizza’s or traditional pasta’s. Desserts are unusual as well, such as birramisu (tiramisu with beer). There’s a varied selection of artisan beers from the region, tasty and experimental! You can sign up for cooking classes as well. Ps. Try the cheese platters, they’re a true delight!
Address: Via Costantinopoli 100 (near Piazza Bellini)
This is one of the nicest places I ever had lunch. The concept is the following: serve yourself at the extensive and mouth-watering buffet and pay the price for the weight of your food. We couldn’t resist all the delicious Italian dishes displayed, the grilled vegetables sprinkled with olive oil and savoury meats and pastas. We really enjoyed the different tastes and bites on our plates. Mineral water and fresh bread were free of charge which surprised us. Also, the bill was much less than we expected, which made us extra happy customers! A lovely place with great (healthy) food!
Address: Via G. Porzio 4, Naples (near Piazza Bellini)
TANDEM – grandmothers’ best ragout recipe
We usually don’t accept invitations by people to visit their restaurants, especially if they approach us on the street and hand over flyers with special deals. But during our stay in Naples, we made our very first exception. A nice lady approached us at via Via Paladino and told us about this relatively new place that just opened its doors where you can taste the original Neapolitan ragout (stew). This typical ‘slow cooking’ meat dish that’s cooked for several hours, is a less known specialty of Naples. Due to the popularity of the Italian pizza (originally from Napels) the traditional ragout has been overruled and thus doesn’t receive the credits it should get. So we went to Tandem, located near Piazza san Domenico Maggiore and ordered a cheese and salami platter as a starter. This was followed by the famous ragout in a bowl accompanied with some delicious homemade bread. We’d be forever thankful to the lady who gave us this tip.
This place is run by two young chefs who’s goal it is to get people acquainted with Neapolitan ragout. They also offer a fun concept in which customers can experience the taste of ragout for just 1€ per minute. If you like more (sure you will!) you can order a bowl for a reasonable price. In addition to the great food (ragout pasta and gnocchi are also on the menu) the restaurant’s atmosphere and the owners’ passion for their products made our Italian experience complete. I really loved the footage shown on a television screen with old/vintage video clips of people eating pasta.
This place gets an Orange Spots award!
Address: Via Paladino 51, Naples
NAPOLI SOTTERANEA – Underground expedition in Naples
The Greek Roman Acqueduct
When I heard that Naples had an underground city, I immediately got curious and booked an expedition in the dark. Although many people know about Naples’ culture and exceptional beauties, few know about the history of its undergrounds. The first underground excavations date back 5.000 years, then the Greeks began digging deep into the ground to carve tufa stone blocks in order to build Naples’ city walls and temples. During the Augustan Age, the Romans started digging as well creating a 400 km long aqueduct, connecting tunnels such as the Cave of Coccecio and Seiano. In the 17th century, the city grew and the Greek Roman aqueduct had to be enlarged. In 1884 the underground was definitely closed because of a cholera epidemic. The two millions square meters of tunnels and cisterns were abandoned yet the caves were reused during the Second World War as air-aid shelters to take cover from repeated bombing. The Napoli Sotteranea Association has the objective to teach people about the history of this ancient cultural heritage, providing guides taking you to an interesting and fun underground expedition (your boyfriend/husband will love it). I would definitely recommend this tour, it’s one of a kind! The excursions operate from Monday to Friday starting at 12:00/14:00/16:00/18:00. You can also book as an individual.
I won’t tell any further details about the tour, just because I think that it’s more fun if you don’t know what to expect. Yet I can’t resist showing you some cool pictures of the tour!
Address: Piazza San Gaetano 68, Naples (side street of Via Tribunali)
SCATURCHIO – best pasticceria in town
At Piazza San Domenico Maggiore you’ll find the best bakery in town which is also one of the oldest dating back from 1905. It’s a true mecca for those who love tradition and bakers’ art.
Address: Piazza San Domenico Maggiore
Since we didn’t stay very long in Naples so there was no time to visit all highlights. Below you’ll find some other nice tips we’d like to share that might come in handy when travelling to Naples:
- The presepe tradition: watch the little local work places where the Napolitans produce the typical nativity scenes (presepe), a craftsmanships that has existed for centuries (Via San Biagio Dei Librai).
- Visit the underground galleries at metro line 1 for beautiful art works.
- Archeology Museum with pornographic fresco’s and the bronze statues are among the highlights.
- Visit one of the many famous pizzerias where authentic Neapolitan pizzas are made with pure ingredients. Da Michele (Via Cesare), di Matteo (order the pizza con alici e cicinieli, Via dei Tribunali 64), Brandi (famous for the pizza margherita, Salita S Anna di Palazzo 1), Sorbillo, La cantina di Donna Elena.
- Experience the splendor of San Gennaro Catheral and Gesù Nuovo at piazza Gesù Nuovo.
For more travel tips in Naples, I’d recommend you to visit this website.