There really is something about Naples. The city is vibrant, animated and full of character. It’s practically dripping with culture, and you’ll spot the Spanish, Greek and French influence in its buildings, back streets and food. Neapolitans are the most interesting people to observe, with their exaggerated gestures and crazy/impossible to understand dialect. It is wonderful. And then of course there’s the food; incredible tomatoes, delicate hand-crafted mozzarella and obviously, the pizza. Don’t even get me started on the pizza.
The misconception that Naples is crime-ridden and dangerous has helped keep the city in its purest form, free from mass-tourism and overpriced, poor quality restaurants. This ain’t no Florence, you’re getting the real deal here, which makes it (in my humble opinion) one of Italy’s best cities to explore.
Anyone who visits Naples will surely have ‘try a Neapolitan pizza’ on their top 10 list of things to do, it’s practically an unwritten law. So if I’m going to recommend anything to try in Naples, it’s not going to be pizza – you don’t need me to tell you that. But what I will tell you about are three things you shouldn’t leave off that list.
Whether it be for breakfast or an afternoon pick me up, you’ve got to try some of Naples’ traditional pastries. They are delicious. My favourite are Sfogliatelle, triangular-shaped little works of art made up of paper-thin layer upon layer of pastry, filled with cream and dusted with icing sugar. You can pick them up at pretty much any bar or street-side store. Whilst you’re at it you might as well try Babà, a kind of cork shaped rum-soaked sponge cake and crazy kinds of good. You can thank me later.
Naples has got some seriously mega street food going on; arancini, frittatina, pizza fritta and other tasty bits that are so damn irresistible. Assuming that like myself you’ll spend every night at a pizzeria, grabbing something on the go to eat as you navigate the city’s narrow streets makes for a perfect light lunch (that’s also assuming that unlike myself you don’t get one of each that’s on offer…)
Not forgetting that tomatoes are kind of a big deal here, you should definitely get yourself one of these bad boys below. Cheap as chips, cooked al dente and smothered in juicy tomato sauce. Devour on the closest available doorstep.
Aperitivo in Piazza Bellini
So we all know apero isn’t just done in Naples, it’s a nationwide thing. The deal is come late afternoon you can hit up pretty much any bar, order a Spritz or drink of choice for €5 and get nibbles for free. This is obviously a win-win situation because you get a) a cocktail b) a cheap cocktail c) free food. And there was one place that really stood out as the perfect spot to spend aperitivo time in Naples: Piazza Bellini.
This square is full of bars and restaurants, with a sweet little park in the middle of it. Around 6pm it starts to fill up, with Spritz-seekers setting up camp on the outdoor tables, and as the evening progresses it becomes a buzzing hub of late-night activity. Bohemian vibes and good times.
One last thing – when you do inevitably go to try that thing that Naples is most famous for, this is where it is at.