Naples is raw, high-octane energy, a place of soul-stirring art and panoramas, spontaneous conversations and unexpected, inimitable elegance. Welcome to Italy's most unlikely masterpiece.
Art & Architecture
Naples' wealth of cultural assets is extraordinary. You'll find two royal palaces, three castles, and ancient ruins that include some of Christianity's oldest frescoes. The city's Museo Archeologico Nazionale claims the world's finest collection of Pompeiian frescoes and mosaics, while its Cappella Sansevero holds Italy's most extraordinary marble sculpture. You'll find Caravaggio masterpieces in the Pio Monte della Misericordia, Palazzo Zevallos Stigliano and Museo di Capodimonte, the latter palace home to countless masterpieces. Of course, we could also mention all those frescoed baroque cupolas, but that would just be boasting.
History & Legend
Naples' millennia-old backstory could bust a bookshelf. Settled by the Greeks and conquered by the Romans, it's a nail-biting tale where myth and fact entwine into one bewitching whole. Did Queen Joan II really throw her lovers to a peckish crocodile in the Castel Nuovo? Do the skulls inside the Cimitero delle Fontanelle have esoteric powers? And just how did alchemist prince Raimondo di Sangro create those inexplicably perfect arterial systems inside his Cappella Sansevero? Curious tales and unsolved mysteries seep out of every Neapolitan stone, casting a strange, hypnotic spell.
Blessed with rich volcanic soils, a bountiful sea, and countless generations of culinary know-how, the Naples region is one of Italy's epicurean heavyweights. It's here that you'll find the country's best pizza, pasta and espresso, its most appetising street markets, not to mention some of its most celebrated dishes. From garlicky spaghetti alle vongole (spaghetti with clams) to sultry ragù (meat and tomato sauce) and silky parmigiana di melanzane (eggplant parmigiana), the food on these streets is all about intensity and pleasure. After all, life is too short for diets, so follow the locals' lead and succumb to your gluttonous whims.
In Naples, retail therapy is as individualistic as the city itself. Here, global chains still play second fiddle to family-run businesses and artisan workshops. Neapolitan tailors have long lured foreign dandies with their impeccable suits, shirts and ties, while the city's handmade leather gloves are sought by the global fashion royalty. Skinny streets and weathered courtyards are dotted with a plethora of workshops and boutiques, selling everything from butter-soft satchels, organic ceramics and meticulous pastori (nativity-scene figurines), to rare Neapolitan lithographs and gourmet local food and wine. Leave plenty of room in your suitcase.