Now that I’m far away from Italy’s beautiful, boiling summer, the timing seems perfect for a little nostalgia. This blog post is my very own guide to Naples, to help you find something to do, eat and drink in this gorgeous city over a quick weekend break.
When I travel with my parents, both seasoned wanderers due to their job as airline cabin crew and plane technician respectively, there’s no way out: you’ve got to walk – an average of 25 km per day to be exact. Luckily, walking around in Naples didn’t only mean finding outstanding restaurants, but also engaging in one of my favourite past-times: taking pictures of street art. Here’s some below.
Who are we kidding. We all know that you’re reading this to find out about the food. I’m not going to take this away from you: I ate my whole body weight in carbs, sweets and sometimes healthy stuff (strawberries on top of cakes and deep-fried veggies count towards your five a day, right?).
Naples’s historical café Gambrinus is right by the main Plebiscito Square and is a real treat. Baroque interiors and a bakery to die for are the main characteristics of this unique place, where I went for the Babà con crema, a rum-infused, soft and chewy cake topped with strawberries and cream. Have it with caffé nocciolino, a coffee with a hazelnut aftertaste, for a really decadent experience.
Fun fact: Gambrinus invites its customers to try the tradition of “suspended coffee”, or buying coffee for someone who can’t afford it by purchasing an extra one and putting the receipt into this caffettiera to warm somebody’s heart on a rainy day.
All I have to say is: €3.50 for one of the best culinary experiences you will ever have in your whole life. Imagine a giant, deep fried pizza with fillings going from the classic Margherita to salami, spinach or more and you have the famous Antica Pizza Fritta da Zia Esterina Sorbillo… a whole lot of carbs, for a price that hardly gets you anything in London. My happy face says it all.
You haven’t eaten proper gelato until you’ve tried this. I don’t think I had ever tasted a stracciatella this good before trying Mennella’s. Pair it up with their cookie crumble gelato and you’re all sorted. Even the wafer here is brilliant, and it’ll help you get over the fact your ice cream is over without leaving that extra pasty, overly sweet flavour in your mouth that’s typical of bad gelato.
The best place for a truly Neapolitan experience, Osteria Il Gobbetto is tucked into one of the tiny alleys making up the Spanish Quarters just off the main Via Toledo and offers top cuisine for affordable prices – our bill including starters, mains, bread and drinks didn’t even reach €50!
Just order “the Neapolitan starter” (either fish or meat-based) and you’ll get a never-ending choice of Italian tapas ranging from fried courgette flowers (the only ones I’ve tried that were a good match to my mum’s), fried mozzarella, fried veggies and the like. My favourite dish was however their pasta, made with aubergine, cherry tomatoes, parmesan and mozzarella: a simple dish, yet a perfect one.
Naples wouldn’t be Naples without pizza, so my mum and I met my dad, who was working in town, at Storie e Sapori near the Castel Dell’Ovo, by the yacht club. We loved their pasta cresciuta (fried pizza doughballs) and veggies starter, and their pizza was as tasty as it was cute.
I’m a sucker for good craft beer and wine bars and Spuzzulé didn’t disappoint. Right in front of Osteria Il Gobbetto, it sold Campania-made craft beer VentiTRE as well as incredible cheese and charcuterie boards.
It’s Starting To Feel A Lot Like Christmas:
If you thought Christmas was an all-year-round thing only in Northern Europe, you’re mistaken: Naples is the city of all-seasons Christmas creches, all very creative, some of them featuring scenes with actual motion depicting village life… and some of them including the latest current affairs and football developments. Just look at what I found in the San Gregorio Armeno area: statuettes representing Donald Trump or Higuain, a Naples footballer who left the team for Juventus and is depicted with the cuckhold’s horns.
Some random shots and stories featuring me walking around in Naples. Wouldn’t be a blog without a selection of awks pictures of me anyway.
While walking around in the Spaccanapoli I met Adele, a lovely Sicilian lady who made unique earrings and jewellery using typical Neapolitan imagery such as tombola, Italy’s version of Bingo, Neapolitan horns, lemons, and more.
Other quirky stuff I found includes: San Gregorio Armeno’s take on national and international politics, placing Trump and Italy’s former president Berlusconi on loo rolls, and the Detective Mania shop, featuring all sorts of weird surveillance stuff for budding detectives and nerds like me.
No matter how much time you have, Naples is always worth a stop. You’ll come back a few kilos heavier but hey… you can’t live to do sit-ups.
Pictures: Carolina Are