See Naples and die!
Around a one hour flight away from Geneva, the city of Naples in Italy is famous worldwide for the song Il Sole Mio, its pizza and its wonderful museums, magnificent churches, palaces and beautiful squares (the city is a listed UNESCO World Heritage site).
When considering Naples for a long weekend trip, you might feel anxious about safety, especially considering the old Italian saying “See Naples and die!” or “Vedi Napoli e poi muori!.”
The media have written so much about the dangers of this city that it feels surprising to come back to Geneva without having been robbed or scammed. In fact, there shouldn’t be any issues if you watch out and avoid some neighbourhoods at night (hold your bag and be careful when walking in the narrow streets as the traffic is hectic and dangerous).
Naples is a big city and there is so much to visit and explore. You will definitely not have time to see everything over a long weekend. A must see is the Archaeological museum, with an extensive collection of mosaics from Pompeii and Herculaneum. A new addition to the collection is the “secret cabinet” with erotic imagery that was banned by the Vatican and now on display in the museum. It is also possible to travel to these two sites (Pompeii and Herculaneum) for a day trip if you stay a few more days in the area. Another museum worth visiting is the Museo Capodimonte, a former royal palace, which features major Italian paintings (Caravaggio, Titian, Artemisia Gentileschi and others) and beautiful 18th century furniture.
After visiting two museums, a coffee break might sound appealing and in Naples you can taste one of the best coffees ever made. The cafe freddo (ice coffee) at Cafe Gambrinus, next to the Piazza del Plebiscito, is a pure delight, especially along with a sfogliatella, a shell shaped pastry filled with warm sweet ricotta. After this refreshing stop, walk to the nearby Teatro San Carlo, the opera of Naples for a very interesting guided tour.
To get the best view of Naples, you should head to the Certosa di San Martino, located next to Castel Sant’Elmo. The Certosa houses a splendid church and a beautiful cloister, as well as statues by Bernini. From this viewpoint, you will be able to see Mount Vesuvio and the islands of Procida, Ischia and Capri.
For a relaxing sunny day, there are fast boats that take you from the port of Naples to Capri or one of the other islands and back on the same day. Capri is a famous jet set destination and is the perfect outing for luxury shopping and dolce vita in incredible surroundings: the square Umberto in Capri is filled with cafes and gelatti and boasts a wonderful view.
There are hundred of churches in Naples but if I had to pick a few then Certosa di San Martino (see above), Capella Sansevero with its Cristo velato, an amazing and wonderful work of art, and Church of Gesu Nuovo would be top of the list.
If you are able to stay longer in Naples, a tour of the Amalfi coast is an incredible experience. You can visit it in a one day with friendly Giovanni and his taxi which stops at the following cities: Ravello, Amalfi (including its beautiful duomo), Positano and Sorrento. The cities are small and cute, but the most impressive part is the road along the coast and its splendid views.
How to get there? Direct flights Geneva-Naples with Easyjet
Where to stay? Hotel Majestic in the elegant neighbourhood of Chiaia (Largo Vasto a Chiaia, 68,)
Taxi tour? Giovanni, Phone number: 0039 339 74 54 229
Where to eat?
For coffee and sweets: Gran Café Gambrinus (Via Chiaia ½, P.zza Trieste e Trento, 80132 Naples)
For Pizza: Pizzeria Brandi (Salita Sant’Anna di Palazzo, 1-2, 80132 Napoli) or L’Antica Pizzeria Da Michele (Via Cesare Sersale, 1 / 3, 80139 Napoli).
For seafood: Ristaurante Da Dora (Via Ferdinando Palasciano 30, 80122 Napoli)
By Sandrine Warêgne
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Livia Varju says
I have been on vacation on Ischia, an island in the Gulf of Naples, which is a wonderful, green haven of peace and security although so close to the big bad city. I have been warned over and over not to carry a handbag and instead to put money and valuables into pockets or a banana bag under my T shirt. Also it’s important to try not to look like tourists – not eacy when there is so much to see. Don’t leave out the botanical garden.
Buon viaggio, Livia Varju