Tutti a Napoli

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Tutti a Napoli
If the walls could talk...

The walls of Naples tell a thousand stories. Look for the countless little figurines and candles hidden in alcoves or on small altars by the road, a casual old photo behind an electric wire inserted with a vase of plastic flowers beside it, and notice how the always hasty Neapolitans still find the time to cross themselves in passing.

Tutti a Napoli
Barista a Napoli

Nowhere in the world is coffee as gracefully delivered as in Naples by the baristas who dance with their trays of tiny cups over the uneven cobblestones of Spaccanapoli like Anna Pavlova dances on stage.

Tutti a Napoli
A Figlia Do Marenaro

A Figlia Do 'Marenaro For the tastiest zuppa di cozze in Naples (a mussel soup with spicy oil which, after pizza, is Naples second most famous dish) and spaghetti ai frutti di mare.

Tutti a Napoli
Antica Pizzeria da Michele

The best pizza in town (and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!) is from Michèle near the station. Step 1: take a number and wait outside until one of the coveted marble tables comes free. Step 2: choose from a Margarita or marinara, water, beer or cola. Step 3: eat it quick, or at least before your friends do.

Tutti a Napoli
Boats to Capri

The ships moored on the pier in the city centre will bring you to the islands of Capri, Ischia and Procida. Take your time and walk along the quay even if you have no such adventure planned. These ships are an undeniable part of Naples.

Tutti a Napoli
Spaccanapoli

Wander through the buzzing old district of Spaccanapoli and remember to look up at the porcelain animals on the balconies.

Tutti a Napoli
The squares of Naples

An empty Piazza del Plebiscito in the morning when pigeons rule!

Tutti a Napoli

"Every year for 18 years I’ve visited Naples. I can talk for hours about how good the pizza from Da Michele is, how it’s worth every minute of the long, inevitable wait. Can describe the aroma of candied fruit you can smell wafting towards you, even meters away from the Spaccanapoli Scaturchio bakery, so minutely that you’ll smell it too. I will never tire of telling people about the skill of the baristas working at the famous Caffè Gambrinus."

Tutti a Napoli
City of tradition

Sometimes I’ll discover something new: a trendy bar along the lungomare, a pub or a new design hotel, but usually things remain happily the same. I’ll sleep in one of the rooms with a sea view at the illustrious Hotel Pinto Storey and ignore the stores along Via Chiaia until I’m at the workshop of Francesco Merolla (tucked away in a courtyard at Via Calabritto 20 Chiaia) to buy one of his wonderfully tailored shirts. Something classic with thick mother of pearl buttons.

Tutti a Napoli
Dripping laundry

The cliché we all see in our mind’s eye is true: wash fluttering in the wind besides fresh, dripping squid, both pinned to the clothesline, a whole network of which zigzags high above the street.

Tutti a Napoli
Santa Lucia

Make your way through the narrow streets of Santa Lucia around lunch and peep through any window to see whole generations of families sitting together around the table tucking in to their midday fortification. Everywhere smells like fried garlic and tomato sauce.

Tutti a Napoli
Best view

Morning view over the bay of Naples from Santa Lucia.

Every year for twenty years on line now I’ve visited Naples. I can talk for hours about how good the pizza from Da Michele is, how it’s worth every minute of the long, inevitable wait. Can describe the aroma of candied fruit you can smell wafting towards you, even meters away from the Spaccanapoli Scaturchio bakery, so minutely that you’ll smell it too. I will never tire of telling people about the skill of the baristas working at the famous Caffè Gambrinus.

Sometimes I’ll discover something new: a trendy bar along the lungomare, a pub or a new design hotel, but usually things remain happily the same. I’ll sleep in one of the rooms with a sea view at the illustrious Hotel Pinto Storey and ignore the stores along Via Chiaia until I’m at the workshop of Francesco Merolla (tucked away in a courtyard at Via Calabritto 20 Chiaia) to buy one of his wonderfully tailored shirts. Something classic with thick mother of pearl buttons.

Nowhere in the world is coffee as gracefully delivered as in Naples by the baristas who dance with their trays of tiny cups over the uneven cobblestones of Spaccanapoli like Anna Pavlova dances on stage. The walls in this part of Naples tell a thousand stories. Look for the countless little figurines and candles hidden in alcoves or on small altars by the road, a casual old photo behind an electric wire inserted with a vase of plastic flowers beside it, and notice how the always hasty Neapolitans still find the time to cross themselves in passing.

The cliché we all see in our mind’s eye is true: wash fluttering in the wind besides fresh, dripping squid, both pinned to the clothesline, a whole network of which zigzags high above the street. Wander through the buzzing old district of Spaccanapoli and remember to look up at the porcelain animals on the balconies.

Don’t bother which of the five pizzeria’s Napolitani always mention, is the best. The best pizza in town (and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!) is from Michèle near the station. Step 1: take a number and wait outside until one of the coveted marble tables comes free. Step 2: choose from a Margarita or marinara, water, beer or cola. Step 3: eat it quick, or at least before your friends do.

At the end of a perfect day in Naples make your way through the narrow streets of Santa Lucia around land peep through any window to see whole generations of families sitting together around the table tucking in to their midday fortification. Everywhere smells like fried garlic and tomato sauce.
Words: Stephanie Pander, Photography by Brenda van Leeuwen

Interested in publication of this article? All photos and text are for sale. For more information send an email to stephanie@shotofjoy.com

Where to eat and to drink
Pizzeria da Michele: simply the best pizza in town. Open daily from 10:00 to 23:00 except for Sundays. Via Cesare Sersale 1-3.
A Figlia Do ‘Marenaro: for the tastiest zuppa di cozze in Naples (a mussel soup with spicy oil which, after pizza, is Naples second most famous dish). Via Foria 180, tel. 081- 440 827.
Donna Margherita: a peaceful lunch spot in the Chiaia neighbourhood in which you sit in the covered courtyard. Pizzas, pastas and a delicious vegetable buffet. Vico Alabardieri 5-6.
Mimi alla Ferrovia: the Neapolitans hail this as the best restaurant in town despite (or in spite of) being in the worst area: behind the station. Reservations are recommended and take a taxi home. Via Alfonso d’Aragona 21, tel. 081-5538525.
Da Cicciotto: for those not traveling to the beautiful Amalfi Coast but want to feel like they are, go to Da Cicciotto in Marechiaro. This is perhaps the most beautiful location in Naples and only about a ten minute taxi ride from the Bay of Santa Lucia. Don’t go in high seasons because tourist know about this place by now. Book ahead. Calata Ponticello a Marechiaro 32, tel. 081-5757124.
Da Tonino: a simple trattoria in the middle of the chic neighbourhood of Chiaia. Only open for lunch. Via Santa Teresa a Chiaia 47.
Café Gambrinus: every Italian city has its own historical cafe and in Naples it’s Gambrinus. Need to sit down from a long day of walking around and money is no object? Choose from one of the tables inside the small room immediately on the right. Otherwise, take a quick coffee at the bar between the Neapolitans. Avoid sitting on the terrace. Piazza Plebiscito 1-3.
Pasticceria Attanasio: naples is famous for its sfogliatelle, a crescent-shaped puff pastry filled with sweet ricotta and candied fruit. The most famous and most beautiful pasticeria is Scaturchio in Spaccanaoli. But at Attanasio, directly behind the train station, you’ll find the best. Vico Ferrovia 7.
Caffe Intra Mounia: literary café cum publishing house with a nice terrace on Piazza Belini. The best place for a break and a drink as you walk through the old Spaccanapoli neighbourhood.

Go, do & see!

  • Visit the Archeological Museum to see such great works as the finest pieces from Pompeii and Herculaneum and the Farnese sculpture collection. Closed Tuesdays. Piazza Museo Nazionale 19.
  • Giuseppe Sanmartino’s mural of Christ in the Cappella Sansevero. Via Francesco de Sanctis 19.
  • Walk through the cloisters of Santa Chiara early in the morning before the crowds and enjoy the sunlit lighting the majolica tiles. Via San Benedetto Croce.
  • Wander through the narrow streets of Spaccanapoli until you find the Casa Santa Francesca, a saint who lived here all her life and who is an icon for pregnant women. Expectant mothers come here for prayer and the little house is full of baptism wreaths. Vico Tre Re a Toledo 13.
  • Take the funicular train up to the Vomero from the Castello Naples.
    Rent a car and drive to Santa Lucia from the central station during rush hour just so you can say you’ve done it.
  • Buy a nativity scene from Via San Gregorio Armeno in Spaccanapoli complete with lighting, pizza oven and a Berlusconi figurine.
  • Have a tie made to size by Maurizio Marinella, the most famous of Italy’s tie makers since its inception in 1914 whose shop was always to be found at the same sunny spot on the promenade along the Bay of Naples. In a space smaller than 20m2 you’ll find a collection of more than 2,000 handmade silk ties. Afraid to turn up wearing the same one as a colleague? Rest be assured that there will never be more than four copies made of each model. Riviera di Chiaia 287
  • Duck into the Feltrinelli bookshop on Piazza dei Martiri to shelter from the heat after lunch when all the shops are still closed. They sell a huge collection of Italian music and old movies in the basement.

 

 

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