Naples Is "Authentic Italy"
I had heard a lot about Naples before, but nothing specific in terms of what there was to do in the city. So we deferred to our bountiful reading material to uncover the top things to do on the visit.
While Naples may not receive props for "most charming" or "prettiest" city, it is well-poised geographically ~ meaning it's located near awesome things to do. Plus, it's a huge city, which means it's one of the major hubs in Italy for international flights and railways.
We chose flying into Naples to start our trip. From Naples we took a hydrofoil to the Isle of Capri and one day we hired a taxi driver to take us to the ruins of Pompeii. This particular trip was a quick one: we were only on the ground for 2-3 days each in Naples, Rome and Florence so we were literally Americans on the run. Details on Naples below.
The National Archaeological Museum of Naples was just a 15-20 minute walk from our hotel. The museum houses the magnificent statues and art from Pompeii and other area cities covered by the Vesuvius ash. This museum is a must-see when in Naples!
Our Naples Hotel: We recommend the awesome hotel we stayed in: Hotel San Francesco. It's an incredible hotel that feels more museum than hotel. One morning we actually spent an hour venturing the hallways and cellars that are forged into the hillside.
San Francesco was originally built in the 1500s as a monastery and was very recently adapted to a hotel. San Francesco is located on the main hill of Naples (called "Vomero"). San Francesco isn't in the middle of tourist hot-spots and that's exactly why we liked it.
San Francesco sports an amazing view of the Bay of Naples, Naples itself and off in the distance, Vesuvius. San Francesco offers an expansive complimentary breakfast and their pool deck and rooftop gardens are amazing - they even rent them out for weddings, so make sure and spend some time there. Sadly the pool closes daily at 5:30 PM, so we missed out on pool-side particulars because we were constantly on the go. The air conditioning in our room didn't work well, but there was a hydro-tub and two windows you could open sporting incredible views, which made up for the wimpy A/C. San Francesco is a bit pricey, but worth it. You're in Italy! Read more online about the amazing San Francesco for a more intimate glimpse into the hotel.
Naples Dining: We mostly purchased small delicacies (pizza and wine) from local bars then devoured them in our hotel room. Our first 2 Euro bottle of wine was purchased from a shop down the street and we were convinced it would tank. Quite the opposite. It was INCREDIBLE.
We stumbled on a pizza joint named Pizzaria Eduardo, that's just a short walk from San Francesco. After fumbling through our Italian, we received one Italian version of an "all-the-way" pizza, which we took back to our room to quickly consume. This all-the-way had ingredients like peppers, cheeses and basil dumped in clumps on the top (not evenly scattered) and while it didn't look like American style pizza, it was wonderful. The best part was that it wasn't deep-dish style... or even sliced. This was authentic pizza that we tore into slices with our mere hands.
At Eduardo's there were also some really interesting appetizers we called "macaroni balls" that were really good. Served just outside the pizzeria from a glass serving cart, these were made of cheesy macaroni rolled into balls and lightly fried and served with red sauce. Finger smackin' good!
We so liked Eduardo's in 2006, we spent two hours on foot venturing back in 2008, so we'd suggest this as an authentic Naples dining experience. More 2008 insight is here.
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