deep in the heart of italy: NAPLES

deep in the heart of italy: NAPLES

on the agenda in naples:

don’t get robbed.
PIZZA again!
experience chaotic “life on the street”
…did i mention pizza?


naples usually does not get the best reputation.
it is constantly skipped over on the way to the amalfi coast,
avoided on cruise stops, and not often appreciated for what it is.

one of the biggest luxuries of our europe backpacking was having more time in certain places. on a trip to europe things are usually crammed in to see as much as possible, but with our 3 months we were able to make pit stops in places we normally may not have.

with our spontaneous schedule, we found ourselves in naples for a week, with a little trip down to the amalfi coast sprinkled in there. although there are gorgeous areas around naples, the city itself is pure italian and so worth experiencing.

when people think of naples, they might think it’s dirty, chaotic, and dangerous (theft-wise). although all of these are true, there is an incredible side to discover once you make it through the tangle. 

we spent a few days here EATING, talking with locals, dodging vespas, and drinking in the italian charm. 

IMG_5732first stop (as it should be for any visitor), was one of the birthplaces of pizza itself::
l’antica pizzeria da michel. yes, this is the famed traditional napoletana pizza joint
that is loved and visited by worldwide visitors … and where julia roberts eats in
eat, pray, love :) and despite the popularity, we had to try it first thing. we came
straight from the crazy train station, and so we arrived at around 4pm – which
helped us miss the crowds. we walked right in! can you tell i was a little excited? ^^
IMG_5738we had purposely skipped lunch on the train to save room for lots of pizza, so
above you can see an example of full on hanger… :) but it was about to be taken care of!
IMG_5744there are two menu items: margherita pizza, and marinara pizza.
your options are normal, medium, or large, and 5 euro at the most
for the greatest margerhita you’ll ever have. it’s simple but so perfect
and so quality. the crust is chewy yet barely charred and the center is
saucy without being soggy. highest quality ingredients, perfectly executed.
naples2hi, julia! ^^
IMG_5745naples9happy girl! ^^
naples3^^ do you think he liked his? ^^
naples8of all the pizza we had in naples, (and we had a LOT)… this had to be
our favorite. it was very hyped but it did not disappoint.
this city has a feast for the eyes around each corner.
i loved the colors, the textures, the absolute life on the street.
IMG_5792IMG_4242we changed into some beach clothes to head to the coast, but first
had to take in the view of the neighborhood from our hotel balcony.
IMG_4209we stayed at hotel santa brigida, the cutest boutique hotel possible.
i definitely wanted to move right in! just look at the decor of our room ^^
the building is one of the noble palaces of the city centre dated XVIII c.
and important writers and artists lived here, though now you’d never know.
the building and lobby are empty and look abandoned, but you climb to
the second floor to discover this gem. it was in a fun neighborhood right
near the spanish quarter and i want to recreate the decor in our house!!
naples16naples15IMG_5790IMG_5770the city has so much beauty to uncover. even this wall was so
pretty to me. like naples it’s a little bit cracked and damaged, but
this only adds to the gorgeous colors and scenes behind it. right?
IMG_5758 IMG_5778^^ molto di gelato was consumed along with pizza, don’t you worry!
IMG_5783IMG_6161i would like every one of these magnets, per favore!
i’m only afraid i would eat them right off the fridge.
IMG_6134^^ luckily we got plenty of real ones to enjoy so i didn’t have to eat the magnets :)

IMG_6380naples23naples24do you see what i mean with the streets and the unexpected
beauty everywhere? naples is a treat for all of the senses.
IMG_5793 IMG_5794IMG_5819because the nearby amalfi coast town of sorrento is famous for lemons,
you can find all things lemon in naples as well. from limoncello to fresh-
squeezed lemonade, you have it all! we went for the lemonade and let
me just tell you … on a hot day in naples, this is the ticket to happiness.

naples12 IMG_5805i think there must be some proof somewhere that your stomach
expands in capacity while in naples, because somehow the pizza never
gets old, and you’re never too full when the fresh smell of it hits you.

IMG_5807the delicious smell of the more modern pizzeria napoli in bocca
hit us hard, and we gave in. it was on my pizza list in naples, so
we had to try it and compare. it was just the right thing to do! ;) 

IMG_5809beware, this family-run space is TINY and very hot during the summer … but
the combination of the fresh pizzas and the market next door make it very
authentic and a good stop if you’re in the neighborhood. i have to be honest
that it was very close to da michele, but not quite there. if we had to choose,
we would go for da michele (listed at the top of this post). however, both places
served up pizzas you couldn’t get anywhere else and i’m still dreaming of them.
it could have to do with the fact that i branched out and tried the marinara here
(don’t make this mistake – always go for the cheese :) but we did try both.
IMG_6110it’s very handy that naples is so big, so there is plenty of room to
walk your pizza off after a meal. just be very aware of vespas loaded
with 5 people zooming across the street, and thiefs. we saw a lot of
both and although entertaining, you really do have to be cautious here! 

IMG_5913naples is definitely another world – like a european taste of
india, italian style. people are out on the streets yelling in
strong italian accents, watching football, drying their laundry,
speeding by in cars & vespas, and living life on top of each other.
naples26IMG_6122so many people warned us over and over again about theft in naples –
and after we SAW a woman get robbed by two men on a vespa on
the street in broad daylight, we couldn’t be too careful. i made chase
carry our backpack on his front on the crowded streets … haha!
naples27as proof of the insane love for football here in naples,
you can go find the literal shrine to former player maradona..
complete with strands of his hair, photos of him, and a
“tear of napoli” from when he was traded to another team.
maradona came to the napoli soccer team when they were
terrible, made them great, and then eventually left. everyone
here is still obsessed with him as proven by this tribute :)
IMG_6150we also heard about via san gregorio armeno, a street full of hundreds of
nativity scenes lining each stall. it was amazing! you wouldn’t believe the detail
and different sets. chase’s mom collects nativity scenes, so we may or may not
have picked up some good gifts on this street! i love all things miniature so
it was fun to wander the street and take in each little detailed carving.
IMG_6156nativity scenes + characters for DAYS ^^
IMG_6149along with the nativity scenes the rest of the street has turned into
ALL things miniature at each stall. i used to have a collection of
mini things when i was younger, so this was my dream!
IMG_6153mini vespas :)
IMG_6154seriously could these mini delivery trucks be cuter? ^^
napleswe found church on sunday while in naples and met some of the
cutest italian members! it was a nice reprieve from the chaotic city.
naples25we also adopted the italian way of doing laundry here and
hang-dried our clothes outside after the washing machine.
they actually smelled AMAZING from drying in the breeze,
haha..those italians know what they’re doing!

naples1naples11naples20in naples, you have to try their 2 famous pastries: the thin-layered
sfogliatella, &
 also the babà. they are very different, but very traditional.
**i’ll show where to get them in my naples food tour post!
Naples22and of course, don’t forget to stop by a pasta shop to stock up
good gifts to take home to loved ones … and yourself!
naples10naples5 naples18 Naples28IMG_6073we loved the fun spanish quarter and wandered it a few
nights since we were staying right near it. i loved our naples nights…
maybe because a pastry always ended the night here:


be sure not to miss out on the charm, chaos, and culture shock of this southern italian city.
you will be out of your comfort zone, but that’s what travel is for. be careful in traffic (cross with the locals). wear covered shoes to avoid the grime of the streets ;) eat a lot and eat WELL. forget calorie counting here –– there’s no such thing as a low-carb diet in naples. chat with locals sitting out on the street and wave to families crammed onto vespas buzzing through the street. watch a soccer game in a restaurant. watch your bag (and your back :). eat bufflata mozzarella, since it will never be fresher or better than here. explore mt. vesuvius, pompeii/herculaneum, the amalfi coast, and the isle of capri. learn about the mafia legends that still exist here. eat lots of PIZZA!

basically, be prepared here to soak in the extremes of italy and all that comes with it. be adventurous and open. this is a unique destination in europe, with more grit than most other cities. yet it still manages to delight, charm, and captivate.