Tasty temptations abound in Napoli…
Tasty temptations abound in Napoli…
There are many wonderful places on this planet to cure wanderlust, but no place beckons more enticingly than Italy. With so many choices of where to go, here’s a pick of Italian destinations both famous and a bit less obvious, that are pulsating right now. There is a place for every taste, every craving in the bountiful cornucopia that is Italy…
Naples: The thing about the charm of Naples is that it embodies every beloved image of Italy. From famous songs to pizza it is the city of iconic Italy. And it is about to have its travel moment. A stunning crescent shaped bay, monumental architecture, and dusty narrow streets, this is real Italy at its most vociferous.
Camogli: Everyone is hitting the Cinque Terre and Portofino but what’s next? The laid back fishing town of Camogli at the top end of the Ligurian Coast. Half an hour drive from Portofino, this is where real Italians go for a bit of lazy time by the sea. Off the beaten path it is very much like the Cinque Terre with its warm toned shuttered houses, but with less crowds. That is for now.
Venice: Yes I know, way too many tourists but Venice is still… Venice! La Serenissima. It still sparkles, it still is captivating and holds a mysterious edge but you must be willing to get lost in the labyrinth streets, secret passageways and canals and let Venice show you the way. Leave St. Mark’s square for the early morning and spend your days in Dorsoduro or Canareggio -where the Venetians actually live. Try Venice in the winter when it is a writer’s Venice, one filled with mood and mystery.
Turin: Italy’s North is making a comeback so what could be better then the paired back refinement of Turin’s elegant living room. Grand architecture and piazzas combined with first class caffe culture and an original aperitivo.
Pantelleria: The Sicilian islands are becoming quite fashionable again, but the almost ignored gem of Pantelleria, a speck between Sicily and Tunisia, is looking to be the stylish escape for summer. The movie A Bigger Splash was filmed here so it won’t be a secret for long. Eco friendly accommodation, blue on blue sky and sea with wide open spaces, it floats alone on the Med in splendor.
Gorgeous, sensual Napoli…
Sultry Naples is too many times overlooked by travelers anxious to make their way to the Amalfi Coast. Here are some reasons why Naples is worth a stay…
Naples dusty grandeur can be overwhelming and at times intimidating. A city that hits you full on in the face and attacking all the senses is really more exhilarating than scary and it’s excitement should be embraced not passed over.
You will notice about Naples as you land at the airport is the massive volcano of Vesuvius in the distance. A city built so close to an ominous mountain reflects the very passionate nature of the people of Naples. Next your eyes will wander to the crescent moon shaped bay separating the crowded city landscape from the serenity of the sea and suddenly you understand why people say “See Naples and die’. For such a busy city the fact that the natural beauty of the surroundings are so prominent reflects part of the city’s romantic soul.
The first thing you should do is head straight for the world famous Caffe Gambrinus next to the Piazza Plebiscito for a thimble sized, power packed serving of espresso. Have it at the bar with the locals before heading over to the heart of the city, the Spacanapoli. Walking up and down this popular area reveals many delights and captures the real sights and sounds of Napoli. Begin just up the street at the Cappella Sansevero, a small, intimate church with one of the most moving sculptures of Christ. The figure of a dead Christ under a sculpted cloak is astonishing. Upon exiting the chapel, time for a bit of lunch and when in Naples, pizza is a must. Two of the best, and world famous places, are nearby so take your pick: di Matteo is closest and offers a variety of excellent pizzas. Just a few more streets away and you are near di Michele made even more famous for being in the movie Eat, Pray, Love. Not that it needed any further endorsements, it’s reputation is extensive and it is much beloved so expect a queue to get in and a bit of a wait. Hence why di Matteo is sometimes an easier bet and still has authentic and delicious Neapolitan pizza. Work off lunch by wandering the side streets and check out the stalls selling nativity characters, a real art form in Naples. Eventually make your way to the tranquility of the cloisters at Santa Chiara. A peaceful garden decorated entirely of local decorative tiles is a pleasing sight and a great pause to sit for a minute or two far removed from the city chaos.
For aperitivo and dinner The Caruso at the Grand Hotel Vesuvio offers not only contemporary Mediterranean dishes but breathtaking views over the bay of Naples. Capri can be seen in the distance as you sip a cocktail before enjoying an stylish meal. Should you decide to stay at the hotel, pick a room with views over the bay and the Castel dell’Ovo and enjoy breakfast in bed with one of the best views over the sea.
Personally I love Naples, and a trip to the Amalfi Coast for me is not complete without a bit of time in what is considered by many as the true Italian city. While they are very much city people with a bit of abruptness, give it a minute and you will find charming and very open people. They are far less jaded by tourism as in other Italian cities, and many times a hello and an interest in their city brings much enthusiasm. And besides, who doesn’t love a great pizza!
Arguably there are many wonderful taste sensations and temptations to be found and enjoyed all over Italy. But if you only had time to experience one in each city…
Cacio e Pepe in Rome While there are many famous dishes such as Saltimbocca alla Romana that are synonymous with Rome, the sublime and understated meal to indulge in is a plate of Cacio e Pepe. Very simple yet very difficult to find outside of Italy, the blending of grated cheese, with a bit of pepper and some good spaghetti will be one of your fondest food memories that will keep calling you back to Rome.
Eat Pizza in Napoli Yes good pizza can be found all over Italy. But for great pizza foodies must make the trek to the holy grail of pizza towns, Naples. Pizza was first made in Naples and there is even a special certification required to show the pizzerias are making and serving authentic Neapolitan pizzas. That includes making it a specified size and thickness, and even specific guidelines that require the mozzarella come from their home region of Campania. A true Neapolitan will have the classic Margherita, simple perfection in red, white, and green.
Pizza at Di Matteo
Drinking hot chocolate at Caffe Florian in Venice The original Grand Cafe of Europe, Florian is more of an elegant drawing room. While anytime is a good time to go to Florian, winter time and a cup of their thick hot chocolate is an indulgent treat.
Ossobucco in Milano There can be no other choice that the hearty northern Italian meal of veal shank with a side of risotto all Milanese. While the rest of Italy thrives on pasta Milan is all about the risotto and that paired with a falling off the bone meat is the perfect accompaniment.
Have a Negroni in Florence The Negroni was invented in Florence at the now closed Caffe Casoni. That torch of the ‘originale’ is now being carried by the iconic Caffe Rivoire on the Piazza della Signoria. What could be better that sitting on the beautiful historic piazza and sipping a Negroni for aperitivo. Cin cin!
Tagliatelle al Limone in Amalfi The light sunny lemons of the Amalfi Coast can be seen everywhere. They are huge, much bigger than regular lemons and they are also very unique in the sense they are milder, with less acidity and with a very perfumed skin. This means that here and only here can you get the heavenly pasta dish with a creamy lemon sauce which is not heavy, not at all sour and just a perfect blend of all the ingredients. Because of the uniqueness of the lemons this dish can only properly and authentically be made here.
Granita in Taormina Yes you can find a good granita in many parts of Italy but in Sicily, specifically Taormina where they claim the ice is from the snow a top the volcano Etna, they have made it an art form. So far beyond the expected flavours of lemon and coffee, in Sicily you can find almond, chocolate, orange and strawberry just to name a few. Enjoyed at breakfast with a brioche it is refreshing sweetness to start the day.
Granita at Bam Bar
Sunny travel blog Ciao Amalfi interviews photographer Carla Coulson on one of her favourite cities, Naples.
Photo by Carla Coulson