- Cityscape Grandeur and graffiti
- City life Urban bustle by the bay
The birthplace of pizza, tri-coloured ice-cream and an oversized take on the rum baba, Italy’s ancient ‘new city’ has always known how to attract attention.
Edgy and intense, Naples isn’t a looker when compared to the tourist head turners of Florence, Rome and Venice. But don’t be fooled by appearances: it’s what’s inside that counts. Who cares about canals or Gucci-trodden shopping streets when you’ve got the best pizzerias on the planet?
Situated on the eponymous gulf, with Vesuvius visible from almost every angle, Naples is a modern city with a long history: the remains of the ancient Neapolis (‘new city’) are still evident, with its countless churches and mediaeval university. It’s also the gateway to the Campania region and the fairytale scenery of the Amalfi Coast, as well as the impressive Roman ruins at Pompeii. The buildings may be crumbling, the traffic hectic and the volume loud, but that’s what makes Naples fun. It divides opinion, but look beyond its reputation: this vast, energetic city has an animated nightlife, a bustling port and some of the world’s tastiest food. Neapolitans are proud of their city – visit, and you’ll feel the same.
Do go/Don’t go
Naples gets its share of sunshine, but in July and August, temperatures can get a little stifling – as can the crowds. Visit in May, June, September or October, when it’s still warm, but far quieter.
- Planes Southern Italy’s main airport is Capodichino, roughly eight kilometres from Naples’ city centre. The airport’s served by Alitalia (www.alitalia.com), EasyJet (www.easyjet.com), British Airways (www.ba.com) and others.
- Boats Daily ferries and hydrofoils link the Port of Naples with Sorrento, Capri and Ischia – try Snav (www.snav.it), Alilauro (www.alilauro.it) or Gescab (www.gescab.it). Tirrenia operates ferries to Sicily and Sardinia (www.tirrenia.it).
- Trains The city’s train hub is Stazione Centrale. Daily services run to other major cities, including Rome (see www.trenitalia.it); the journey to the capital takes roughly two and a half hours. The Circumvesuviana line connects Naples with destinations across the Amalfi Coast, including Sorrento, as well as Ercolano and Pompeii (www.vesuviana.it). Naples also has a comprehensive metro system; a day pass costs €3.60 (€3.00 at weekends) and is available from multi-lingual machines at most stations (www.metro.na.it).
- Automobiles Driving in Naples can get hairy: traffic lights and one-way streets are generally seen as optional and Vespas rule the road. If you are coming by car, the city is on the north-to-south Autostrada del Sole (A1 to Rome and Milan, A3 to Salerno).
- Taxis Taxis regularly pass Via Cristoforo Colombo, the main road that runs along the seafront. They’ll also be waiting at the larger train and metro stations.