Napoli: an insiders guide to the city

30 December 2022
Written by The Italy Insider
Insider's Guide


Naples is a vibrant, energetic city whose people welcome you to the city as if they were welcoming you to their homes. From the thrill of spaccanapoli and Napoli sotterranea to the folkloristic Via San Gregorio Armeno through the many foodie pitstops from sweet to savoury – visiting Naples will prove to be an unforgettable experience for anyone who is exploring it for the first time (and second, and third). Here is a guide to help you choose what to see, do and where to sleep in Naples.

The streets of Naples. Ph. Jean Carlo Emer
Lungomare of Naples

WHAT TO SEE

Piazza Del Plebiscito

In the Santa Lucia district, it is the heart and symbol of the city. Within the 25,000 square meters that surround it, you can find some of the most important works of Naples, such as the Royal Palace and the Church of San Francesco di Paola. Palaces of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries are reflected in the square.

Royal Palace and Hanging Gardens

Historic building located in Piazza del Plebiscito, in the historic center of Naples, where the main entrance is located: the entire complex, including the gardens and the San Carlo theater, also overlooks Piazza Trieste e Trento, Piazza del Municipio and via Acton.

Lungomare Mergellina

With its almost 4 km walk from Borgo Santa Lucia to the end of Via Caracciolo, it welcomes Neapolitans and tourists every day with the desire to enjoy a spectacular view. It is beautiful in any season of the year, however in summer when the days are clear, it takes on its most beautiful aspect, showing in a single glance the suggestive view of Vesuvius, of the island of Capri, of Castel dell’Ovo. and the promontory of Posillipo.

Galleria Umberto I

Galleria Umberto I is a commercial gallery built in Naples between 1887 and 1890. It is dedicated to Umberto I of Italy, as a tribute to the King and in memory of his generous presence during the cholera epidemic of 1884, which showed the need for a “Rehabilitation” of the city.

Spaccanapoli

It is the soul of the Neapolitan city. The meaning of its name is literal: the neighborhood is in fact split in two by a street. This crack is clearly visible from above. Here Via Benedetto Croce, San Biagio dei Librai and Vicaria Vecchia cross each other.

Lungomare Mergellina

Quartieri Spagnoli e Via Toledo

Quartieri Spagnoli. Ph. Lawrence Chismorie

Via Toledo is the street, full of shops, which connects Piazza del Plebiscito to Piazza Dante. Perpendicular to the street are the Quartieri Spagnoli. Speaking of picturesque areas of Naples, further down from Piazza Dante, coming from Piazza Plebiscito, is Pignasecca, where typical markets of the city are held. The closest metro station to Pignasecca is Montesanto but you can also choose to get off at the Toledo metro stop, considered one of the most beautiful in all of Europe.

Posillipo and Via Chiaia

Posillipo
Posillipo

It is located at the top of Piazza Plebiscito. The Posillipo hill offers a glimpse of the city that is absolutely not to be missed. Below is the small port of Mergellina. Via Chiaia is another street to go to if you go to Naples. It winds from Piazza Plebiscito towards Piazza dei Martiri and is an ideal place for shopping and for a stroll.

Rione Sanità

It is currently one of the most popular areas of the city, but it was initially built to give residence to noble families and the wealthiest bourgeois, as evidenced by the elegant Palazzo dello Spagnolo and Palazzo Sanfelice, built between the second and third decade of the 1700s. This is the birthplace of Totò, one of the most important figures of Italian cinema and theater who was also a poet, playwright and singer. In addition, important films have been shot in its streets such as “The Gold of Naples” and “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow”.

San Martino e Pedamentina

From the “new” district of Vomero down to the old city lies a steep and historic path between Art Nouveau, vegetable gardens and glimpses of the gulf. It is called Pedamentina di San Martino and it ‘s one of the oldest urban pedestrian paths in the city. You can cross the district of Vomero, immersed in liberty style, until you reach what is considered one of the most evocative stairways in Naples, the Pedamentina which certainly deserves a visit. With its 414 steps, the Pedamentina connects the splendid Certosa di San Martino (from which it is also possible to admire a breathtaking view, like few in the world) to the historic center of the city through a truly picturesque route.

CHURCHES AND MUSEUMS

Ipogeo dei Cristallini 

What to do in Naples
Fourth Sepulchre at Ipogeo dei Cristallini. Ph. Credits Pedicini

Il Rione Sanità of Naples reserves ancient archaeological sites dating back to the Greek and Roman period therefore during your visit to the city, do not miss out the opportunity to explore the Ipogeo dei Cristallini, also belonging to the Calais Martuscelli family. This is one of the most important sites in the world, containing a precious and rare testimony of Hellenic painting and architecture. The site was carefully restored and allows to to take a journey back to the 4th century BC when the Greeks, who then lived in the city of Neapolis, built underground tombs in which the remains of the ancient inhabitants of the Neapolitan city rested for millennia. The Hypogeum consists of four sepulchers, dug into the tuff with one that remained splendidly intact with vibrant frescoes and depictions. This is a marvellous site that enables you to enter and reimagine history and every Friday evening you can enjoy an aperitif accompanied by music as you visit the site.  WEBSITE

Duomo di Napoli

It dates back to the 13th century and is very important for the Neapolitans; a real point of reference. It is in this place that the famous “miracle of San Gennaro” is celebrated every year.

monastero di Santa Chiara

Including Church, Monastery and Convent, it was built from 1310 to 1328 at the behest of the monarch Roberto d’Angiò and his wife Sancia of Mallorca. The sovereigns, both devoted to San Francesco di Assisi and Santa Chiara, wanted to build a Franciscan citadel that would welcome the Poor Clares in the monastery and the Friars Minor in the adjacent convent. The Church, the central nucleus of the entire complex, was built with the title of Holy Host or Sacred Body of Christ, a dedication suggested by the Eucharistic Miracle of Bolsena, which took place in 1264; the aforementioned denomination immediately changed to Santa Chiara, probably due to the extraordinary number of Poor Clares present in the monastery.

Pio Monte della Misericordia

It is a charitable institution, still active, founded in 1602 by seven Neapolitan noblemen. The headquarters of the Pio Monte della Misericordia also houses an Archive / Library which is particularly valuable for the quantity and rarity of the documents and volumes it contains.

Certosa di San Martino

The Certosa di San Martino with adjoining museum, is located in a dominant part of the city, on the Vomero hill. The Carthusian monastery dates back to the fourteenth century and offers itself as an attraction of the Neapolitan city. The museum houses an exhibition of nativity scenes and an important collection of paintings. From the terrace you can enjoy a magnificent view of the Gulf of Naples. WEBSITE

Duomo di Napoli

MANN

It is one of the most important archaeological museums in Europe. The MANN hosts, in addition to important works and ancient finds, the Pompeian Collections deriving from the excavations of Pompeii. WEBSITE

museo cappella san severo

Visiting the Chapel of San Severo is certainly an exciting experience. Inside this building it is in fact possible to observe one of the most beautiful works of art in Naples: the Cristo Velato by Giuseppe Sammartino, from 1573. WEBSITE

Madre napoli

It is the first museum for contemporary art located in the historic center of Naples. Portuguese architect Alvaro Siza transformed the ancient Donnaregina palace into a functional modern space for contemporary art. WEBSITE

museo Hermann Nitsch

The space, already created to house a plant for the production of electricity, shows a large square and an architectural body to be observed with the poetic angle of someone who has transformed a disused building, into a dream come true, into a creative explosion. : the Hermann Nitsch Archive / Laboratory for Contemporary Arts Museum, dedicated to the Viennese artist and visual experimentation born around the 1960s. WEBSITE

where to eat 

Haute Cuisine

Il Comandante

Il Comandante restaurant is located on the 9th floor of the luxurious 5-star Hotel Romeo. This coffer of haute cuisine, awarded 1 Michelin star, offers Salvatore Bianco’s creativity and gourmet research, while turning its eyes to the spectacular view of the Gulf of Naples. Here you can enjoy a multi-sensory experience, the perfect synthesis of fascinating gastronomic rituals and incomparable service. WEBSITE

Fine Dining

Cicciotto a Marechiaro dal 1942

The trattoria Cicciotto was founded in 1942 in one of the most enchanting places in Naples, on the shores of Marechiaro Bay. Here guests, inebriated by the sea breeze, can enjoy the precious gifts of the sea, from raw fish to linguine with crabs, as well as the unparalleled traditional taste of Neapolitan pastries. Since 2018, Ciccotto has also become a pizzeria that combines sophistication, tradition and innovation. WEBSITE

Street Food

La Masardona

La Masardona sells world famous fried pizza and have won numerous prizes. Absolutely worth the stop (and the few calories). WEBSITE

Fried Pizza from Zia Esterina Sorbillo

Here it is possible to eat the Neapolitan fried pizza which is “the one of the poor alleys of the city” that is larger, more generous and accessible to all.

Ristorante Take Away La Devozione Di Giuseppe De Martino

Giuseppe Di Martino’s ‘SeaFront’ is a marriage between innovation and culinary tradition. The format proposes a ‘Pasta bar’, with 15 recipes by Peppe Guida, star chef of the Antica Osteria Nonna Rosa. In addition to the two tasting menus all based on pasta, here you will find the ‘spaghetto con scarpetta take away’, ready in 7 minutes. This is a 130-gram portion of spaghetti with tomato sauce served in a box, placed on a slice of bread for the ever-present ‘scarpetta’. 

La Masardona Napoli

Trattorie/Bistrot

trattoria Antica Capri

Antica Capri is a small trattoria located in one of the characteristic Neapolitan alleys (Spanish neighbourhoods) adjacent to Via Toledo that reserves great culinary surprises. It’s a rustic restaurant that prepares all its dishes with raw materials and tables set with a flask of wine. WEBSITE

Mimì alla Ferrovia

Mimì alla Ferrovia

The kitchen is the starting point and driving force of Mimì alla Ferrovia, who since 1943 has chosen to celebrate traditional Neapolitan cuisine. And even today, over 70 years later, it is the guardian of a gastronomic history that has become famous all over the world. WEBSITE

pizza

Pizza “Starita a Materdei”

The particular care for the ingredients, the dedication to work and courtesy, make “Starita a Materdei” a fundamental stop for lovers of true Neapolitan pizza.

50 Kalò Ciro Salvo

Where to eat in Naples
Pizza from 50 Kalò

50 Kalò is among the six Italian pizzerias highlighted by the Michelin Guide. It is run by Ciro Salvo who, according to the New York Times, offers ‘One of the best pizza in Italy’. His pursuit of light, digestible and super-hydrated dough has earned him awards and recognition from the most authoritative national and international critics. The pizza menu changes with the seasons and is the result of research that gives space to DOP and IGP branded products such as Provolone del Monaco, Ciauscolo, Parmigiano Reggiano aged 24 months, and local rarities from small artisans such as the red sausage of Castelpoto and the aprilatico broccoli of Partenopoli. You can also find 50 Kalò in Rome and London. His pizzeria 50 Kalò is among the six Italian pizzerias recommended by the Michelin Guide. WEBSITE

Pizzeria Fratelli Salvo

Francesco and Salvatore Salvo, the third generation of a family of pizza makers, are nowadays the authoritative and modern voice of contemporary Neapolitan pizza. At Pizzeria Salvo, the menu changes seasonally, with the inclusion of new pizzas created according to the best products of the period, with a preference for territorial excellence and local producers. WEBSITE

Concettina ai 3 Santi 

Panino Annarell with artichokes, provola and Prosciutto Crudo

If you’re looking for authentic, exquisite pizza then one of the places you should definitely visit is Concettina ai Tre Santi, a pizzeria born around 70 years ago by the Oliva Family and has since maintained its legacy in being one of the best pizzerias in the city. You can order a la carte or, as we suggest, try the tasting menu curated by Ciro Oliva that takes you through a journey not only through his life experiences but also through the history of Neapolitan culinary traditions. You will try some of the most incredible specialties, from Pizza Fritta…To Pasta Fritta con sugo alla Genovese, a sauce considered to be ‘for the poor’ and used to be given to the Genovese portsmen upon their stop to Naples. Seasonal ingredients are used therefore the menu changes from time to time but expect stracciatella cheese, burrata, parmesan, caviar and truffle. To close nicely the culinary feast, indulge in some pizza with chocolate sauce or freshly made compote as well as a home made Rhum babà. WEBSITE

“Fritture” from Di Matteo

Recognised above all for the fried pizza and the various fried foods in general, the Di Matteo pizzeria stands out from many others precisely for being at the same time also a fryer.

CAFFE & BREAKFAST

Gran Caffè Gambrinus

The most renowned literary café in Naples. The meeting place for intellectuals, politicians and businessmen who have left fragments of their greatness in its rooms. WEBSITE

Pintauro puff pastry

In Naples when the sfogliatella is mentioned, one of the first pastry shops to which one thinks is Pintauro, since it is from here that it spread to the city. The sfogliatella was born in the cloistered convent of Santa Rosa, on the Amalfi coast and arrived in Naples in the early 1800s, thanks to the pastry chef Pasquale Pintauro. WEBSITE

Traditional sweets from Mary

Sfogliatelle, babà and much more! The delicacies of the classic tradition of Neapolitan sweets enclosed in a casket in the heart of Naples in the Galleria Umberto I.

“Fiocco di Neve” of Poppella

A ‘Fiocco di Neve’ or Snowflake from Poppella is this tiny cream filled ball with powdered sugar that drives all palates crazy. Its success is so overwhelming that it is offered in different flavours: classic, pistachio and chocolate. WEBSITE

Drink

L’Antiquario

L’Antiquario is a moody, speakeasy-inspired cocktail bar that stirs up some of the drinks in the city. Come along for a pre-dinner aperitif or a late night drink to taste specialty mixology. There is no need for a secret password to enter but be prepared to enter into a time machine that takes you back to the heart of the Prohibition Era. WEBSITE

Gambrinus

where to sleep

Grand Hotel Santa Lucia

Grand Hotel Santa Lucia is a 4-star hotel, it represents a way of life. Crossing the threshold of the Liberty-style lobby, the atmosphere is that of the Neapolitan Belle Epoque. Elegance, privacy and a unique style of its kind make it a second home for many famous people visiting Naples. WEBSITE

Grand Hotel Parker’s

Where to sleep in Naples
The view from Grand Hotel Parker’s at Breakfast

Since 1870 Grand Hotel Parker’s has welcomed and excited generations of travellers by hosting writers such as Robert Louis Stevenson, Virginia Woolf and Oscar Wilde. With its refined elegance, the Parker’s still offers an exclusive hospitality experience today and, thanks to its unique position in the Chiaia district, boasts an incomparable view and one of the most beautiful views in the world, from Posillipo to Vesuvius crossing the entire gulf. of Naples. WEBSITE

Il Britannique

One of the suites at Il Britannique

Overlooking Corso Vittorio Emanuele, Il Britannique masterfully combines historic charm and elegant rooms and a restaurant with sea views. Some of the suites have exceptional views that overlook the Gulf of Naples. WEBSITE

Primo Piano Posillipo

In an enchanted corner of the city of Naples, where history and sea meet to celebrate beauty, the elegant domus Primo Piano Posillipo is born, housed inside an elegant 19th century palazzo. Modern design blends into an ancient context giving new perspectives in which architect Giuliano Andrea dell’Uva has used Seventies and Eighties Italian-design finds to furnish the four-roomed b&b. Also available to rent as a whole apartment. WEBSITE

Atelier Inès

Atelier Inès. Arts & Suites is the harmonious union of an art gallery, a showroom and a jewellery boutique. In addition to this special combination, there are six customised rooms and suites, each one completely different and decorated with unique works of art, which delicately match the choice of fabrics and colours.  It is located in the picturesque Vergini district of Naples, which is considered an ‘open-air museum’. It is a place full of curiosities and contradictions, where the sacred and the profane have coexisted for centuries. WEBSITE

Primo Piano Posillipo
Where to sleep in Napoli
Private courtyard at Atelier Inès Arts & Suites

Casa d’Anna ai Cristallini

Where to sleep in Napoli
Casa D’Anna ai Cristallini. Ph. Credits Pedicini

Casa d’Anna ai Cristallini is nestled in the up and coming Rione Sanità, a district that was born as a burial ground in the Greek and Roman period. Today however, this district is living a period of revival thanks to its historical importance and the numerous gems that now characterise the neighbourhood. Casa D’Anna ai Cristallini is one of them: a sixteenth century baroque maison that belonged to French couple Davide D’anna et Ken Mc Taggart who, with Pierre Vercoustre restored it with loving touches of antique design and charm. Today, it belongs to Alessandra Calise Martuscelli who has preserved its authenticity and welcomes guests as if it were her loving home. The B&B has four rooms, named after islands and each with their own personality: one thing to note are the hand painted ceilings that add a beautiful, artisan touch to the property as well as the classical music that accompanies you in the salotto. The beating heart of Casa d’Anna however is the Salotto, a charming room filled with books and precious antiques. Upstairs is a rooftop terrace furnished with cast iron furnishings where one can enjoy breakfast or an afternoon read under the sunshine. WEBSITE

Rinuccini Relais

Where to sleep in Napoli
Rinuccini Relais

The ancient Palazzo Rinuccini is the only building in Piazza Dante, the beating heart of the historic centre of Naples. Inside Rinuccini Relais breathes a Relais that boasts ample spaces carefully and tastefully decorated, from the elegant furnishings to the harmonious combination of colours. From its balconies you can watch the spectacle of Neapolitan life, simply by opening a window in your room. WEBSITE

*Our guide was written in collaboration with our insider Pasquale Monda.

What to see in Naples
People of Naples


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