Pizza, Pompeii and priceless artefacts – this is why you should spend a day in Naples.
If you’re planning to immerse yourself in Italy, chances are Rome is your starting point. But between visits to the Vatican and a tour of the Colosseum, you might be itching to explore more of the boot-shaped nation. Naples is a 2.5-hour drive away along the country’s western coast, making it the perfect daytrip destination. Whether you’re a history buff or an art lover, Naples is full of gorgeous museums and galleries that give you an insight into the city. But if you’re only here for a day, you need to be selective – here’s a few suggestions.
Learn more about the city’s history
Castles and churches are abundant in Naples (Castel dell’Ovo, stretching out into the bay, and the Duomo di Napoli are just two worth visiting) but the Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli (Piazza Museo, 19) is a must – it’s regarded as one of the most significant museums in Italy. Invest in an audio guide (€5) to ensure you get the most out of viewing the Egyptian artefacts, Roman and Greek marble sculptures, and beautiful frescoes. Pompeii is also only a 30-minute drive from Naples or just over half an hour on the train. Wiped out in AD 79 by Mount Vesuvius (stop by if you have time; it takes around 30 minutes to walk to the crater), a stroll down the main street of the fallen city will give you an insight into life as it was, with temples, shops, homes and artworks all preserved.
Sample pizza in its home city
Naples is the spiritual home of pizza, making it essential eating for any visitor. The much-hyped L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele (Via Cesare Sersale, 1) is reportedly the oldest pizza restaurant in the city and where the Margherita was invented, so be sure to stop by for a slice. But with scores of pizzerias scattered throughout the city and surrounds, each with their own famed specialty, you really can’t go wrong. Pizzeria di Matteo (Via dei Tribunali, 94) and Gino Sorbillo (Via dei Tribunali, 32) are always contending for the title of best pizza in town and have the line-ups to prove it.
While the city streets are a hive of activity, there’s an equally impressive labyrinth under Naples, too. The Galleria Borbonica (Vico del Grottone, 4) is an underground viaduct built in the 1800s to link the Royal Palace with the barracks and connects to other existing tunnels. Used as a bomb shelter during the Second World War and later as a police car pound, the tunnel has been open to visitors since 2010.
Break for coffee and cake
Next on your food-and-drink hit list is un caffè and sfogliatella, a flaky pastry filled with ricotta that’s been sold in Naples since the early 1800s. Coffee bars selling Neapolitan coffee and pastries are everywhere throughout the city but try Gran Caffè Gambrinus (Via Chiaia, 1) for a winning combo.
Hit the shops
Buying a designer piece is practically a requirement when you’re in Italy. Via Chiaia and Via Toledo are the streets to stroll for boutiques and chain stores while Via San Gregorio Armeno, which runs alongside the church of the same name, is lined with vendors selling handcrafted nativity scenes and Christmas trinkets if you want to pick up a souvenir you’ll actually use.