It’s unfortunate for Naples, really, that it finds itself in Italy. While in most countries this picturesque, art-focused city would find itself the center of attention, here it has Rome, Florence, Milan, Pisa and Venice to compete with, and that’s some competition.
In truth, though, for the tourist the competition is probably a good thing. Not only can you combine the splendor of more of the world’s most enticing cities than you’ll find in any other comparable geographical area, but you’ll be able to walk through the Greek and Roman influenced streets around Naples sweeping bay relatively unhassled.
Naples is full of fountains, squares fronted by grand facades and more ornate old churches than you could conceivable visit. Behind a particularly large, decorated façade you’ll find the extraordinary San Carlo Theatre, a towering structure that’s home to 200 pricey boxes and a mammoth stage that’s often home to some of Italy’s most acclaimed opera, a must-see if you can get your mitts on a sought-after ticket.
In fact, there’s barely a city centre building in Naples that architecture lovers won’t be infatuated with, particularly around the notorious Piazza Mattieotti, the result of fascist leader Mussolini’s call for impressive Italian architecture in the early part of the century: he certainly got it. While this city-center plaza seems to be sacred, many others host regular markets, the perfect spots to grab souvenirs such as farm produce, culinary essentials and even the highlights of the impressive annual perfume fair.
While Naples itself is every inch the spectacular relic of an incredible age in architecture, you can find some of the world’s very best natural draws in the nearby countryside. Mount Vesuvius – the infamously destructive volcano – is (relatively speaking) only next door, and surrounded by an alluring selection of olive and grape plantations, too. Then there’s the Roman towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum, the Coliseum-esque arena of Pozzuoli and the bubbling, muddy fields of the Solfatara Crater.
With Roman influences and volcanic drama running rife in Naples, it’s every bit as melodramatic as you’d expect from an Italian city, and very, very easy to love.
On the other hand, many people find Naples extremely intrusive and it is without a doubt an acquired taste. The traffic on the roads is nothing short of crazy and certain areas become a little sketchy after dark.
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