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Naples, Italy highlights

Naples parks index:
Capodimonte Park

naples fish marketNaples Museums and Sites
A first-things-first approach can be taken with Naples on your premier day in town: walk around and get a lay of the land:

Spaccanapoli is the Roman “decumanus inferior,” and it runs through the heart of old Naples. Today the area is a series of crowded, paved streets dating from the 13th to 14th centuries, lined with palazzi and churches.

The piazza del Gesù typifies Naples’ split between modern architecture and the lush baroque interior of Gesù Nuovo. Equal to this difference is the austere Norman and Angevin Santa Chiara, found opposite, with its jasmine-laden tiled cloister.

Further along is the piazza San Domenico Maggiore, with relaxed terrace cafés set around the baroque church of San Domenico Maggiore. Nearby piazzetta Nilo is named after the Roman period statue of “Nile Reclining.”

San Gregorio Armeno, filled with artisans’ workshops, leads up to the even narrower via dei Tribunali, the main road of Greek Neapolis. Near one end is the Duomo, dedicated to San Gennaro, Naples’ patron saint.

The National Archaeological Museum (piazza Museo Nazionale 19; closed Tue) anchors one end of the via Toledo (also known as via Roma). Home to a number of treasures, including mosaics and statues from Pompeii, Stabiae and Herculaneum, the museum also houses the Gabinetto Segreto, an adult-only collection of Roman erotica.

Easy day trips from Naples’ central train station leave three times an hour to Vesuvius, Pompeii and Sorrento. Pompeii’s excavation is quite extensive, and you will spend nearly the whole day roaming through its exhibits and chambers.

Naples Restaurants
I began the story of Naples with pizza, and I’ll continue it with some choice pizzeria recommendations: Di Matteo (via dei Tribunali 94; closed Sun), Da Michele (via Cesare Sersale 1; closed Sun) or Sorbillo (via dei Tribunali 32; closed Sun).

Traditional Neapolitan home-cooking—trattoria—can be found at Cantina della Tofa (vico della Tofa 71; closed Sun), La Vecchia Cantina (via San Nicola alla Carit 13-14), Cantina della Sapienza (via della Sapienza 40; open only at lunch, closed Sun) or Il Castello (via Santa Teresa a Chiaia 38).

naples italy_2Naples Nightlife
For a bit of culture as the sun settles over the Mediterranean, get advanced tickets online for Teatro San Carlo, one of Italy’s temples to opera (via San Carlo 98F; tickets phone 800 907 080).

Neapolitans like a good dance party as much as they like to eat. Along via Cisterna dell’Olio you’ll find Superfly, a very small and happening club (no. 12), and Kinky Bar (no. 17).

Live music bars in Piazza Bellini include Intra Moenia (no. 70), a funky place that finds the chic and fashionable on the dance floor after midnight.

Naples Transportation
Naples International Airport is just outside of town, and so is an easy taxi or bus ride into the city center. The city transportation system is made up of street trolley-trams and a swift, easy subway system. Trolley-tram tickets can be bought at newspaper kiosks or tobacco shops. Buy subway tickets at one of the self-serve machines.

If you plan to travel throughout Italy and Naples is your first stop (or even last stop), I urge you to consider using Italy’s rail system, Trenitalia. I’ve found it to be the easiest rail system to navigate and understand, with the some of the nicest trains, in all of Europe. Self-service machines use touch-screen technology that walk you through (in one of 6 languages) ticket buying in a step-by-step process. Larger terminals also have attended ticket stations, but those are always crowded in peak season.

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