A local’s guide to Naples
Dreaming of an Italian holiday? Our hotel expert for Italy, Marcella lets us in on the secrets of her home town.
What is your role and where are you based?
I’m lastminute.com.au’s Hotels Product Manager for Italy, a role I’ve had for seven years.
Starting in 2005 in the London office, I moved back to my hometown of Naples four years ago. Being based in Italy gives me the chance to visit our hotels more often, better understand the travel trends here… and of course enjoy the great Italian food 😉
Tell us about your home town of Naples…
I love the passion and the great sense of humour of its inhabitants as well as their humanity and kindness. You can never feel alone here, there is always someone ready and happy to help you.
Obviously, the food is amazing and not only the pizza, as everybody knows, but it’s a must when you are in Naples to try the mozzarella di bufala. Some typical local recipes are parmigiana di melanzane, (fried aubergine with mozzarella and tomato), zucchini alla scapece, (courgettes with mint and olive oil) and pastries like baba or sfogliatella and of course the coffee.
Recently the promenade Via Caracciolo and Via Partenope have been turned into a pedestrian area and it’s lovely have a walk here or ride a bike, go to Piazza Diaz and have a beer with some tarallo (a salty or sweet ring-shaped biscuit, typical of the South of Italy).
What is your best travel tip for visiting Naples? Naples is a great base for exploring the coast plus the islands. If you have around a week to explore, here is my suggested itinerary:
- After landing in Naples, take the Alibus and for only 3 EUR you will be in the centre. There are two stops: one in the Central Station and one in Piazza Municipio, opposite the harbour.
- Stay two or three days in Naples: then take the boat to one of the islands and stay at least one night here.
- Take the boat and go to Sorrento. Here, I recommend renting a car and visiting the coast: go to Positano, Amalfi, Ravello. Stay two or three days on the coast.
You can also rent a little boat for one day at the local harbour and visit the breathtaking coast by the sea. You can easily reach Nerano and Punta Campanella and from the boat you can call some restaurants and order the pasta alla nerano.
Where do you recommend staying in Naples?
For a very romantic stay
4* Hotel San Francesco: A XVI century convent, completely restored, with a swimming pool and a garden on the roof overlooking the gulf. The hotel is located on the hill with a breathtaking view but well connected to the city centre.
For the view and the comfort
4* Hotel Royal Continental: The hotel is very modern and is located by the promenade, opposite the Castle overlooking Capri. The area has limited traffic so it’s perfect for relaxing.
For the location
4* Mercure Angioino: The hotel is very near the historic centre and opposite the harbour, so you’re ideally placed for going to the islands and Sorrento by boat. It’s also very modern and only a minute from the Alibus shuttle stop.
When is the best time of year to visit Naples?
The best months are May and September. In May there is ‘Maggio dei Monumenti’ (May of the Monuments), a celebration of Naples’ cultural heritage including art, architecture, literature, theatre and music.
If you’re looking to save a few dollars, I recommend October, November and December. There is never a cold winter here and the hotel rates are cheaper then. And if you want to make your trip especially memorable, consider visiting on New Year’s Eve for the fireworks.
Avoid July and August because it’s too hot!
What do you recommend visitors to Naples see and do?
The Underground City: You need to see it to believe it. Truly fascinating.
The Sansevero Chapel Museum: See masterpieces such as the famous the Veiled Christ, renowned world over for the remarkable tissue-like quality of the marble.
City centre: Walk around the historic centre in the narrow streets.
Via Caracciolo: Stroll the pedestrian friendly sea promenade area.
Posillipo Hill: Enjoy the view of the gulf.
A trip to Naples isn’t complete without foodie experiences. What are your favourites?
Best pizza: You’ll find all the pizza options in the historic centre to be really good but one of the best pizzerias is near the station: da Michele. Here you can order only Margherita or Marinara, and you have to queue to get in, but it’s worth it!
Best pastries: Rum soaked Baba’, Sfogliatella, pastiera. I recommend Da Mary in Galleria Umberto (near Plebiscito square) or Scaturchio in the historic centre.
Best trattoria: Leon D’Oro in Piazza Dante is great or if you really want to have a local experience go to Da Nennella in the Spanish quarter (it’s better to go here at lunch time).
Best wines to order: White – Greco di Tufo and Falanghina; Red – Aglianico.
Where can travellers shop up a storm?
There are two main areas for the shopping: one is in Vomero, easy to get to by cable car, and the other one is Via Chiaia and Via Roma, both near Plebiscito Square.
If your budget is quite high and you want to go for the famous brands, visit Via dei mille, Via Filangieri and Piazza dei Martiri (all nearby).
What day trips would you recommend from Naples?
Sorrento: Sorrento is a good spot to start when visiting the coast. Rent a car here and go to the Amalfi coast, stop in Positano, Amalfi and Ravello. Do not forget to drink the Limoncello and eat the sweet delizia al limone.
Capri island: Visit the blue grotto, do some trekking in the Monte Solaro (or be lazy and take the chair lift up!) and have at least one glass of wine, coffee or an ice cream in the Piazzetta (be warned: it is quite expensive here!)
Ischia island: The biggest island, famous for the thermal baths. Not as expensive as Capri, but very green and great for trekking. The two most famous thermal parks are Negombo and Giardini di Poseidon.