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People told us not to go to Naples.

‘Dirty, ugly and crime-ridden’ seemed to be the popular description.

Call me contrary but I’m really glad we went, and I’ll definitely go back there, should the travel god be willing.

To be fair we only spent one day there (on a day trip from Procida) so I can hardly say I’ve seen it, but I liked what I saw.  I found its faded grandeur quite appealing, plus we didn’t get mugged.

Knowing we’d only have one day I researched the bejeezus out of this city and created an itinerary with military-like precision, including the best places to eat pizza.

Along the way we found a grand shopping arcade (Galleria Umberto I)

galleria Umberto I Naples

zodiac mosaic floor galleria Umberto I Naples

with a beautiful mosaic floor showing the signs of the zodiac. On a different trip to the island of Salina off the coast of Sicily we stayed with a family who own a ‘secret’ room under this floor where they hold wild parties!

 

Wide piazzas

piazza plebiscito naples piazza del gesu nuovo naples

 

Magnificent churches

Chiesa Gesu Nuovo Napoli Naples

The Chiesa del Gesu Nuovo was definitely my favourite. I just love the studded wall!

 

A castle

castel nuovo napoli naples

 

Narrow alleyways

 

streets of Toledo Spanish Quarter Naples

The streets of Toledo. I later found out this is a prime area for mugging, but no signs of trouble while we were around

 

Assorted oddities

antique store Naples

Found outside an antique store near the archeological museum

antique store Naples

 

And in between all this we salivated, and sometimes stopped for snacks at the wonderful food shops

Scaturchio pasticceria Naples

My research told me this was THE place for sweet treats. It’s called Scaturchio and look how beautifully they wrapped up our morning pastries. Almost too good to eat … almost.

shop display Naples pasta shop display Naples

 

We had really, seriously good gelato in Napoli at Gay-Odin. So good we stopped in there twice in the same day. It’s a shame I didn’t take any photos of it.

And so to lunch. After all my careful researching of the best pizzeria in Napoli I LEFT THE LIST BACK ON THE ISLAND!!!!

The only place I could remember from said list is Da Michele, made (even more) famous by the film ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ as the place where Julia Roberts goes for pizza. It’s very unassuming from the outside, and the system for getting in works along the same lines as yum cha joints: muscle your way to the front, get a raffle ticket from the man, wait patiently for your number to be called out in Italian (you’d better learn your numbers!) and then you’re IN! Once inside it’s all communal tables, chaos, noise and elbows. But the pizzas are great and only 4 Euros each!

Choosing what to have is easy because they only have two types.

pizza at da michele naples

Check out the guy on the right, he runs the joint and presides over the cashola

pizza at Da Micehele Naples

And here it is – a real Da Michele pizza!

One of the main things I wanted to do in Napoli was visit the museo archeologica nazionale, because that’s where all the loot from Pompeii is kept.  My journal entry says: “disappointing, no bodies, too many pots”. Disappointing that is until we found the mosaics! Mosaics really do it for me, and so at last I’d found my happy place. They are mostly from the Faun Villa in Pompeii and are incredibly detailed, with itsy bitsy pieces. Obviously made in a time when you could get a good tradesman to turn up!

I took dozens of photos, and here are some of my favourites

mosaics from Pompeii at the museo archeologica nazionale Naplesmosaics from Pompeii at the museo archeologica nazionale Naplesmosaics from Pompeii at the museo archeologica nazionale Naples

 

Things got more interesting when we found the secret chamber of erotica!

secret chamber of erotica at the museo archeologica nazionale Naplessecret chamber of erotica at the museo archeologica nazionale Naples

Aside from the many penises, we also happened to bump into Red Symons of ‘Hey Hey it’s Saturday’ and Skyhooks fame. Georgio shouted him to a bottle of water when he didn’t have the right change for the vending machine…

Another place I really wanted to see was via Gregorio Armeno, a street entirely devoted to craftsmen who make nativity scenes, and where locals go to shop for Christmas stuff. I really, really love shiny Catholic things and street shrines so I had high hopes for this street, and it didn’t disappoint.

nativity scenes in via Gregorio Armeno  Naples

via Gregorio Armeno Naples

I’m not sure exactly how this relates to Christmas …

street shrine madonna mary Naples

I’m just going to throw in a street shrine for good measure

 

So I loved Naples. The last word from my journal: “Naples isn’t scary like people make it out to be, but it is chaotic and dirty and covered in graffiti and weeds. Lots of things are broken. But it’s also quite beautiful, plus we didn’t get hassled or mugged.”

 

graffiti piazza plebiscito naples

 

PS  This was my list of where to find fabulous pizzas

Street pizzas for 1euro

  • Antica pizzeria e friggitoria di matteo – via dei tribunali, 94
  • Il pizzaiolo del presidente – via dei tribunali, 120-21
  • Antica pizzeria port’alba – via port’alba, 18

Classic pizzas

  • Pizzeria trianon da ciro – via pietro colletta, 44/46
  • Pizzeria da michele – via cesare sersale, 1 – off corso umberto, between piazza garibaldi & piazza nicola

The best

  • Pizzeria starita – via materdei, 27
  • Europeo de mattozzi – via marchese campodisola, 4

And Gay-Odin gelateria can be found at via benedetto croce, 61

PPS tips for not getting mugged in Napoli:

  • don’t wear jewellery
  • don’t carry a camera
  • don’t walk around with your nose buried in a map
  • if you have a bag carry it across your chest
  • basically don’t look like a tourist

 

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Until next time, safe travels,

The Travelling Pantaloni

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