You may find yourself passing by Napoli to reach other famous destinations in the terra amalfitana. Napoli itself though is a very unique and mysterious place. For an afternoon, or just one “notte a Napoli” one can taste its great history, and make a promise to come back for more. Unless you want to delve into its rich food culture that’s renown for its heavenly pizza and so much more on sfogliatelle calde, code d’Aragosta and pasta genovese. Here’s your cheatsheet for enjoying a 2-day food tour around Naples!
First of all, don’t try to drive in Napoli. Grab a taxi and experience the craziness of the traffico through someone else’s steering wheel. Let the air breeze through the windows and bounce up and down on the worn out car seats as the driver weaves through Spaccanapoli and the pebbled streets of centro storico. Don’t even think to make a move before you indulge yourself with an original pizza napolitana at L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele. Wash it down with a Peroni or two and pay the bill equivalent to chewing gums.
If it’s too early for a pizza (it never is!) and instead you want to enjoy an authentic Neapolitan breakfast, head to Attanasio by the main train station for the famous sfogliatelle, a custardy pastry that comes hot off the oven and sells like hot buns (pun intended). You may want to consider though the time as after 10am, the place starts having a long queue.
Stroll and get lost in the old historical streets, mingle with the locals and don’t try to find the best gelato or the most interesting museum. Napoli is all about its people and “la luna e mare”. Head to Rione Sanita to witness real Neapolitans going about their daily life in this densely populated, bustling area where little shops, food stalls and various food establishments come plenty. Once you get a view of Palazzo dello Spagnolo, a 18th century palace with an elaborate courtyard, go to Pizzeria Concettina ai Tre Santi for the best pizza experience ever. Three things to note (but really only one): try the tasting menu or go for the unmissable Annarell’ sandwich, a pizza with ragù and ricotta di bufala, and the unmissable sott’ngopp fried pizza with sauce underneath instead of on top, prepared on your table à la minute.
For a quick coffee and a delicious, fluffy dessert stop by Pasticceria Poppella and a fiocco di neve (or two!).
Head up Vomero hill for the sunset over Vesuvius. Again, don’t search for the best apperitivo in town. A bottle of prosecco from the off-license is the better way. If that’s not your thing, then head to L’Aquintario, a speak easy bar with great cocktails and a nice dimly-lit vibe.
Take a seat on the castle wall, and let the notes float away on the breeze. “Ho icontrato un angelo”…and take the angel with you for an evening walk in Chiaia. There’s lots to adore along the seafront that is full of old buildings and elaborate balconies.
Don’t rush to call it a night. After hours drinks go on until the early hours in the leafy Piazza Vincenzo Bellini where loud hipster voices get mixed with tourists looking for a night club. Libreria Berisio is always another option where you can enjoy nice cocktails and drinks until the early hours in a room that is full of books stacked floor-to-ceiling.
Finally, before you head off to Costieria Amalfitana (detailed travel guide here) or the many attractions outside the city (think Pompei, Gragnano or the islands of Capri and Ischia) have one last stroll in Centro Storico and visit the old monastery of Santa Chiara that has remarkable, majolica-tiled cloisters and a lush garden. Again, quick coffee and a sweet bite are the norm so make sure you visit Scaturchio for their infamous ministeriale ricotta chocolate drops but also the cone d’Aragosta al cioccolate… ugh!
- Complesso Monumentale di Santa Chiara – former monastery dating from the 1300s with enclosed gardens, majolica-tiled cloisters and a church.
- Royal Palace of Naples – 17th century palace with period furnishings, a home theatre and lavish ballroom restored after war. You can also try Museo Caruso which regularly holds interesting exhibitions.
- Rione Sanita – rustic and busy alleys in this densely populated neighbourhood where you can spot the real locals of Napoli.
- Vomero hill – visit this area by the funicular.
- Castel dell’Ovo – enjoy views to the sea in this imposing fortress and former royal residence.
- Palazzo dello Spagnolo – palace from the 18th century with an elaborate double stairway in a courtyard, now used as residences.
- Get a cab, or rent a vespa to experience the real traffico italiano. Drive responsibly.
- Pizzeria Concettina ai Tre Santi – one of the best in town, definitely try their infamous sott’ngopp upside down fried pizza! Go early to avoid the queue.
- Pizzeria Starita a Materdei – again, one of the best in town, famous for their Montanara Pizza with tomato, provola cheese and more cheese; crispy outside and soft inside.
- L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele – one of the best pizzerias in town.
- Mimi alla Ferrovia – Veteran restaurant decorated with photos of famous diners, serving traditional Neapolitan dishes. Bets known for his ziti alla genovese.
- Trattoria da Nennella – a funky, rustic trattoria with singing and dancing waiters, famous for traditional Neapoletan dishes and their pasta e patate con provola.
- Sorbillo Gino – another best pizza ever.
- Scaturchio – the most authentic pasticceria in town, located in Centro Storico. Famous for their ministeriale ricotta drops but also serving super coffee and a delicious coda d’Aragosta al cioccolato (chocolate croissant)… to die for!
- Pasticceria Poppella – one of the best pastry desserts you’ll find in Napoli: fiocco di neve. You can try the chocolate version and enjoy both with a quick coffee by the counter.
- Sfoglitatelle calde d’Attanasio – low-key bakery next to the main train station, renown for its cheese & custard-filled sfogliatelle puff pastries.
- Gran Caffè Gambrinus – for the house coffee on the spot in the morning or for their infamous baba au rum dessert and a Spritz Aperol in the afternoon overlooking la Piazza Plebiscito
- Caffè del Professore – very low key but true to its authentic nocciolato espresso for the late hours of the night.
- Gay Odin – for gelato
- L’Antiquario – speak easy bar with nice music and a very well stocked up bar. Cocktails are very good too!
- Libreria Berisio – cosy, atmospheric bookshop and cafe-bar, offering craft cocktails next to floor-to-ceilings bookshelves.
- Peronis and negronis one after the other at the outside tables in Piazza Bellini a few meters away from Libreria Berisio.
Amazing baba au rum and coffee at Gran Caffé Gambrinus
The view as you arrive at Positano
Delicious pasta genovese, a traditional Sunday lunch dish, at Da Vincenzo in Positano
Costiera Amalfitana with unique pastel hues