A Nibble of Naples
Stretching southward on the Italian peninsula and nestled along the coast beneath the unmistakable Mount Vesuvius volcano, the city of Naples is a vibrant and diverse visit. Easily accessible by air, train or ferry, Naples itself is sure to please with a rich blend of history, culture, and culinary delicacies. Arriving in central Naples via ferry, at the Stazione Marittima, or by train, at Napoli Centrale, will put you in the historical center of the city. Wandering around its circuitous, and at times confusing, streets gives you a taste of the oldest architecture of the city. It is perhaps the most authentic view of Naples, and dotted throughout are small shops and restaurants that offer only the most authentic Neapolitan experience. Just to then north of this historic center is one of the must-see museums of Naples: the Museo Archeologico. Housed in what was once a 17th-century palace along the northern edge of the Piazza Museo, this museum offers one of the most impressive collections of antiquities in the entirety of Italy. This meandering museum can easily eat up an entire morning or afternoon and is a great destination following a walking tour of the city. Continuing north from the museum along the Via Santa Teresa degli Scalzi will lead you to Naples’ other museological heavy hitter: the Museo Capodimonte. Standing prominently atop a hill on what was once the outskirts of town, this museum is housed in what was originally a hunting lodge for 18th-century Bourbon king Charles VII. Today, it is one of the most impressive collections of fine art in the region, including works by Baroque masters Caravaggio and Artemisia Gentileschi. Regardless of your path through the city, don’t depart from Naples without indulging in at least of few of their culinary delicacies! Neapolitan restaurants can offer a tantalizing array of frutti di mare, or seafood, thanks to its close proximity to the sea, but it can also offer the agricultural delight of ultra-fresh mozzarella di bufala farmed just outside the city limits. And of course Naples is home to pizza napolitana, a delicious thin-crust pie that just isn’t the same anywhere else. For the sweet tooth, seek out some sfogliatelle, a light, flaky and layered pastry akin to a croissant that comes with the added bonuses of a ricotta filling and powdered sugar dusting. Naples is a great walking city, but it also requires you to be a smart traveler. Markets, like the one that stretches in front of Napoli Centrale on the Corso Giuseppe Garibaldi, can be a haven for pickpockets, so you’ll need to watch your belongings. Some streets can also be questionable, particularly at night, so you should try to travel with a map and in groups if you are unfamiliar with your destination. Women can also be targets for (mostly harmless) heckling, so if you are a woman, a male travel companion or a steely disposition are recommended. Naples is also a perfect home base for visits to the splendid sites just south of the city. A short train ride on the Circumvesuviana line will take you to the ruins of the ancient Roman towns that once line the Bay of Naples. From the lesser-known Boscotrecase to the more famous Pompeii and Herculaneum, all of these archaeological sites offer a wealth of history and, on a beautiful day, a lovely stroll and chance for a picnic. While the crowds are usually modest to manageable at the smaller town dig sites, it’s best to target your visit of Pompeii earlier in the day to avoid long entry lines.
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