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Report 2005: Naples & Sicily: Warmly Welcomes Travelers

By teezee from US, Spring 2012

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Page 3 of 13: Naples

The ferry from Ischia to Naples is about an hour and is a very pleasant journey. A cab from the port to a hotel in Naples center is around €15. Naples isn’t the first city which exceeded our expectations but it is one of the most idiosyncratic, personable and unexpected of jewels. We had been warned of the traffic, the noise, the graffiti, to watch our bags, watch being cheated, etc., but nobody warned us that we would fall in love with its warmhearted and affable people, its remarkable food (much better than more vaunted Northern Italy on all counts in our view), its architecture, arches, gardens, parks, harbor, and, oh yes, did we say food? The Archaeology Museum is first-rate and the Capidomonte is possibly even better, with its lovely acreage surrounding the stunning palace that casually holds a collection of treasures including, of course, Caravaggio, Titian, Raphael, and so on.

Again, as with Ischia, we left too little time and can’t wait to come back for a longer stay. One full day was devoted to Pompeii and Herculaneum, which left far too little time in our three days for Naples proper. We dream of coming back and perhaps staying in Posilippo, at the top of the hill, overlooking the harbor, among gold and rose madder stucco houses, smothered in bougainvillea and lantana. And eating more octopus. Or maybe more clams. Certainly more pizza and more sfogliatelle!

Logistics were well taken care of at the Palazzo Caracciulo, an extremely pleasant hotel, well-situated for walking about Naples, with a delightful inner courtyard, pleasant and helpful staff, and a nicer than typical Italian breakfast. Booking early gave us a very good rate including the weirdly overpriced breakfast (€18 I believe if not included in your hotel rate!). An excellent and well-priced tasting menu at the charming Palazzo Petrucci pleased all of us: the cuttlefish pasta dish was particularly memorable but nothing was not worth trying. The staff was charming and helpful and the cooking was respectful of local traditions and innovative with them, just what we’d hoped for.

Lunch in Posillipo at Ristorante Rosiello was also most welcome. Definitely overpriced but you are paying an inflated “copperto” for the magnificent view of Naples on the wisteria-shaded terrace with waiters who have been to charm school. My octopus stew was one of the best dishes I had on the whole trip so, in spite of the tourist-trap prices, I would return.

We had, of course, wonderful pizza at a local pizzeria not far from the capidomonte, and could not make La Notizia because it was only open for dinner, alas.

Things to consider in Naples particularly for older travelers:

  • Don’t, of course, drive.
  • Budget extra money for taxis and let them do the work.
  • Leave two days for Pompeii and Herculaneum if you can and consider staying in Pompeii for one night.
  • If you are staying for three or more days, buy the Arte Pass.
  • Do see the lovely church in the center of Pompeii if time allows.
  • If you are doing Pompeii and Herculaneum in one day, consider booking a taxi for €130 for five hours from Naples round-trip. Rates are posted for various trips in the taxis. We simply asked a driver we met who was kind, loved showing us his favorite things in Naples as we drove back to our hotel, and who quickly agreed to pick us up for the trip the next day. We were four, so sharing the cost made it quite reasonable and saved our energy for the work of getting around Pompeii.

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