Having spent some time along the Amalfi Coast, you often get people warning you against visiting the neighbouring city of Naples. There are those that will tell you that it is a city ridden with crime and poverty and for that reason is not worth the journey. “Why would you want to go there when you can relax in the natural beauty that the Amalfi Coast offers you,” said the owner of our guest house in Conca dei Marini.
However, I say you should forget the critics and take it upon yourself to visit Naples if you happen to find yourself in that part of Italy. It is a stark contrast to the almost ‘celebrity’ lifestyle that is lived in parts of the Amalfi Coast, as Naples boasts a city full of fascinating character.
For me Naples was a completely different experience to that of any other European city I had been to. Its crumbling buildings, dirty streets and countless African salesman make it a European city that is rather unique and often leads to visitors forming a love or hate relationship with it.
If it is character you after then Naples has it in abundance, once you embrace the shabby surroundings you begin to relax more and take the city at face value. Its quirky run down restaurants and bustling street markets are well worth a visit to get a taste of the hectic lifestyle most locals are exposed too. Naples is where pizza originated and for that reason alone the city is very appealing, as the pizza you will enjoy here will unquestionably be the best that you have ever had.
The city as a whole is one full of extremes, one minute you can be passing designer shops along Via Toledo and the next you find yourself walking along a run-down and rather daunting little alley way. The cathedrals here offer a welcome retreat from the busy streets and are home to some of the most beautiful décor you are likely to see. Other buildings that are definitely worth a visit are the impressive Teatro San Carlo and Piazza del Plebiscito. If you want stunning views of the city and surrounding area then a trip up to Castel Sant’Elmo is a must as it sits high above the city’s skyline. From here you get great views over the never-ending street of Spaccanapoli and Naples’ majestic volcano that looms large over the city.
Views over the Bay of Naples and Mount Vesuivius remind you of the city’s history and also offer you some of the best views you are likely to see in any city within Italy. If you embrace Naples’ charm and sheer madness then you will love what time you spend there. You can see why so many people choose to avoid it and stick to other areas of Campania, but if you are someone who is more adventurous and likes to visit places that are so different to what you know, then Naples is the place for you.