Naples: Pizza with a Side of History

We got home late last night from our six-day adventure through Naples, Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast, and I’m still glowing (literally, in fact: I have a bit of a tan!) We had an absolutely wonderful time. I’ll spend the next week blogging and sharing photos of the highlights, so stay tuned. First up: Naples! But before I get started, here’s a view out the plane window during our flight to Italy. Bongiorno, Alps!

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My friends who had already spent time in Naples warned me that it is a “gritty” city, but I was still unprepared for what that entailed: The layer of grime covering the streets and buildings, the clusters of trash, the dinged-up cars and scooters made up of pieces of other cars and scooters, the graffiti decorating everything from trains to shops to even churches (see final photo). If I’m being honest, I started off the morning feeling a little uncomfortable. I held onto my camera a little bit tighter, watched the people around me with a little more scrutiny and eyed the seemingly delicious street food a little more skeptically. But by the end of the day, I was sitting in the Piazza Dante eating gnocchi and people-watching with considerably more ease – then again, it could have been the wine.

Don’t get me wrong: Naples has its selling points. The city is the birthplace of pizza and Gui and I had some absolutely delicious pizza for lunch at Pizzeria Gino Sorbillo, which was recommended by Lonely Planet. We spent a couple of peaceful hours at the beautiful Santa Chiara basilica and monastery, seeking refuge from the rain under the covered walkways of the cloister. We saw the famous “Veiled Christ” sculpture at the Cappella Sansevero, which is currently undergoing construction, and decided the eerily realistic marble work lives up to the hype (no photos allowed). We visited the Museo Archeologico Nazionale to see the mosaics from Pompeii and the “Secret Chamber” with ancient erotic art. And we checked out the Duomo and the unusual metallic reliquary bust of San Gennaro.

So yes, comparing gritty Naples to the manicured streets of Capri is like night and day. But was it interesting to get a taste of both? I’d say yes. And both are indeed very tasty. Enjoy the photos!

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