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  • Writer's pictureGrant

Four Solo Days in Naples Italy

Like countless others throughout history, the famous and the commoners, like me, who visited Naples Italy (Naples | Italy, History, Map, & Points of Interest | Britannica) for the first time, I was at once amazed by its beauty and concerned with its “grittiness”. Maybe “concerned” isn’t the right word; “upset” would be too severe. Not as bad as New York City and worse than Greeley Colorado.


Piazza del Gesu bistros in Naples Italy
Piazza del Gesu bistros in Naples Italy

Like many cities, Naples has its good and bad, the trash, homelessness, and sometimes rudeness, which in my estimation is more than offset by the warmth and hospitality of most of its citizens, the beauty of its monuments and architecture, and did I mention the unforgettable food.

 

After a few days in Reykjavik, Iceland, I took off for Naples. No direct flights between Reykjavik and Naples, so a quick stop in Milan then onto Naples. From windy, cold, wet weather to sunny, calm, and temps in the 70’s (F). Quite a difference. A quick drive, using a private transfer service through Viator (see here: THE TOP 10 Naples Airport & Hotel Transfers (w/Prices) (viator.com)) to get me from the airport to my AirBnB.

Beautiful old town architecture in Naples Italy
Beautiful old town architecture in Naples Italy

 

I enjoyed 4 days in Napoli visiting the city’s sights and taking two tours outside of Naples, through Viator (THE TOP 10 Naples Tours & Excursions (UPDATED 2024) (viator.com)), one to the archeological sites of Herculaneum and Pompeii (THE TOP Pompeii Tours & Excursions (UPDATED 2024) (viator.com) and the other, also through Viator (Tours, sightseeing tours, activities & things to do | Viator.com) to the Amalfi coast and the cities of Sorrento, Positano, and Amalfi. I highly recommend a tour of Pompeii, be sure to include Herculaneum if you have the time.

 

I intend to write a separate blog on my visits to Herculaneum and Pompeii. The destruction by Vesuvius is incredible. The invaluable cultural evidence left behind gives us first-hand glimpses of life during the first century AD, under Roman rule.

 

Sorrento Italy along the Amalfi Coast
Sorrento Italy along the Amalfi Coast

As for the Amalfi coast (Amalfi Coast - Wikipedia), it is interesting to see, and the towns are beautiful as they seem to defy gravity clinging to the hillsides with their houses as a child’s blocks stacked one on top of another. Our guide said that these very expensive houses of the rich and famous use to be homes of the local fishermen. All the different house colors, a primary visual charm of these towns along the Italian coast, go back to the time of the fishermen so they could see their homes from the sea as they returned with their catch. He also explained that the vivid house colors were because the fishermen painted their houses the same color as their boat(s).

Positano steep streets and stairs to the beaches below
Positano steep streets and stairs

 

One more thing, be ready for countless, seemingly unending stairs and steep walkways and streets. Make sure you wear good walking shoes for the steepness and the unevenness of the sidewalks and alleyways (Colors of the Amalfi Coast - Unusual Places).


For my visit of Naples Italy, I chose to stay in an AirBnB located on Corso Umberto I, a major very busy street in Naples, with countless stores of all kinds, restaurants serving all types of foods, offices, markets, and coffee shops. I chose this AirBnB (Attico Ascarelli flat private terrace metro duomo - Condominiums for Rent in Napoli, Campania, Italy - Airbnb) because of the pictures of the outside terrace patio which is part of the unit.


AirBnB in Naples with door to terrace from kitchen
AirBnB in Naples with door to terrace from kitchen

Besides choosing to stay in AirBnB (Airbnb | Vacation rentals, cabins, beach houses, & more) units based on specific amenities that catch my eye, I simply get tired of hotels. I highly recommend you consider using AirBnB (Airbnb | Vacation rentals, cabins, beach houses, & more) to compare the cost of these vacation apartments with hotels or when you get tired of hotels. The booking process is very easy and typically check-in and check-out procedures are simple and issue free.

 

View from AirBnB terrace over Naples
View from AirBnB terrace over Naples

As a bonus, I made a friend who is the cousin of the AirBnB owner (the cousin, Gennaro, checked me into the unit on my arrival) and who happens to own, along with his family, a local delicatessen about a block from the AirBnB, named Novità Street Food located at Via Pietro Colletta, 14, Napoli 80139. Here’s what TripAdvisor and numerous reviewers have to say: NOVITÀ STREET FOOD, Naples - Restaurant Reviews, Photos & Phone Number - Tripadvisor .


Novita Street Food deli and restaurant in Naples Italy
Novita Street Food deli and restaurant in Naples Italy

IMHO, the appetizers, sandwiches, and salads are great! When you visit Naples, I highly recommend you stop by Novità Street Food, located at Via Pietro Colletta, 14, order a sandwich and a drink and tell Gennaro (or his Father or Mother, both of whom are there every day) that Grant recommend you buy a sandwich and sit and enjoy local homemade bread, meats and cheeses. Although it is fast paced Naples, there is always time to sit, enjoy a meal, watch people, and talk – the perfect way to experience your inner Italian.

 

Gennaro is very fluent in English, his parents not so much, but they do understand and are very welcoming, as if they are inviting you into their home. I recommend you try one of their sandwiches even before you try a Margarita Pizza (a staple of Napoli culture).

 

Hop-on / Hop-off sightseeing bus Naples Italy
Hop-on / Hop-off sightseeing bus Naples Italy

Most tourist destinations have some sort of sightseeing service that will give you a good overall view of the sights, attractions, and activity locations. One such service I typically use is a “Hop On / Hop Off” tour bus service (THE TOP Naples Hop on Hop Off Buses (w/Prices) (viator.com)). I described the “Hop On / Hop Off” service I used in Reykjavik in a previous blog post at My Lifestyle Blog | Wanderlust Encounters. The Naples service has two routes which cover most of the city’s main attractions. Once you take these tours, you can then decide which attractions and locations you want to explore further.

 

Wash and Dry Laundry in Naples Italy
Wash and Dry Laundry in Naples Italy

As an aside… multi-week travel is not without its challenges. What to initially pack to make sure the necessities are covered while limiting the number of bags and packing light – easier to get through airports and train stations. The drawback is the inevitable Laundry Day. With a limited number of clothing items, you will have to anticipate one or more laundry days, depending on your travel duration.


Since I am traveling for 4 weeks, and have  6-7 days of clean clothes, I anticipate 3-5 laundry days. Since I don’t have much to wash it is a quick, one wash load process, not cutting into my exploration time. Gennaro recommended a nice, clean laundry near his delicatessen, the Wash and Dry Laundry (see the reviews: Wash and dry - Google Maps). It was convenient, clean, and inexpensive (about 7 euros for one load to wash and dry).

 

Museo Nazionale Archeologico Naples Italy
Museo Nazionale Archeologico Naples Italy

One of my more enjoyable tours in Naples was my visit to the National Museo de Archeologica (Mann Naples|National Archaeological Museum of Naples (mann-napoli.it)), located at Piazza Museo 19 – 80135 Napoli (see their website page for directions: Where we are|Mann Napoli (mann-napoli.it).


Mosaic from Pompeii in the National Archeology Museum Naples Italy
Mosaic from Pompeii in the National Archeology Museum Naples Italy

Due to the proximity of Pompeii and Herculaneum, the National Museo de Archeologica contains a huge collection of mosaics from these two archeological sites. Rather than leaving these beautiful mosaics at the sites, risking exposure to the weather, damage by tourists, potential for theft, and to ensure a controlled venue for viewing by the public, the Italian authorities chose the National Museo de Archeologica, to display these beautiful “works of art” (from their website: Mosaics|Mann Napoli (mann-napoli.it)).


When I arrived at the National Museo de Archeologica, I was greeted by a gentleman named Luca del Vaglio, ldelvaglio@icloud.com, +39 338 3787399, wearing a pass or badge of some sort around his neck. He offered me a tour of the museum, including the mosaics of course. Turned out, that Luca is a “freelancer”, not employed by the museum, but permitted by the museum to provide tour services. Luca was quite knowledgeable and is fluent in English, Italian, and Spanish. He provided a 90-minute tour of the museum, focused primarily on the mosaics unearthed in Pompeii and Herculaneum, at my request. When you are in Naples, I highly recommend that you visit the National Museo de Archeologica and definitely use Luca’s services to better see, understand, and appreciate the treasures and history of Pompeii and Herculaneum.

 

Duomo di Napoli - Naples Cathedral Naples Italy
Duomo di Napoli - Naples Cathedral Naples Italy

Although Naples has numerous sightseeing opportunities, in fact too many to describe here, I would like to recommend a few, should your time permit. First, be sure to visit the Duomo (The Naples Cathedral), tucked away at Via Duomo 147 (that is the street address). The Duomo (Naples Cathedral - Wikipedia) is an early thirteenth century Gothic cathedral dedicated to San Gennaro, the patron saint and protector of Naples. The stories of St. Gennaro (San Gennaro: A Traditional Catholic Neapolitan Feast - Life in Italy), his protection of Naples from Vesuvius eruptions, and the liquification of his blood are fascinating. Back to the Duomo, typical of the Gothic style, the Duomo’s ornate interior is incredible. It seems as if every inch of wall, ceiling, and floor are covered with beautiful paintings, statues, tiles, marble, and otherwise decorated. There is something to see everywhere.

 

Second, and in stark contrast to the excessive art and decorations of the Duomo, the Church of Santa Chiara (Santa Chiara, Naples - Wikipedia), located at Via Santa Chiara 49, is an example of austere Gothic style. The original church was built in the 1300’s and unfortunately was destroyed during WWII. Some of the floor and the tombs at the back of the church survived. After the war, the church was rebuilt in the original austere Gothic style with its own beauty.

 

Castel Nuovo main gate and guard towers Naples Italy
Castel Nuovo main gate and guard towers Naples Italy

Third, if you want to take in a castle during your exploration of Naples, I suggest Castel Nuovo, on Piazza Municipia (Comune di Napoli - Culture and free time - Art and museums - Castel Nuovo). The castle was built in 1282 by the Angevin rulers to guard the city and bay of Naples. Today it is essentially a museum and inside the walls of the castle you can visit the Naples civic museum, climb several flights of stairs for an incredible view of the waterfront, and visit a small, relatively bare church called Cappella Palatina.

 

My final recommendation for a visit is to Piazza del Plebiscito (Piazza del Plebiscito - Wikipedia), not far from the Castel Nuovo, with the Palazzo Reale on the east, the church of San Francesco di Paola on the west, and Chiesa di San Ferdinando to the north. It is just a nice relaxing stroll.

 

The grittiness of Naples aside, I really enjoyed exploring Naples and I barely scratched the surface. Since there is so much more I want to see, I’ll be back at some point soon.

 

Until then, have your own wanderlust encounter in Napoli.


You will love it.

 

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