Color me surprised. When my parents and I were planning our trip to Italy, I had one major request: Naples. All the people around me seemed to be commenting on the city, as if they’d been there, as if they’d survived its chaos. People came back from Italy raving about pizza and passion, painting an image of Italy that I thought must lie down south. After a few hours in Naples, I realized those commenters probably hadn’t ventured past Rome.
Naples is fascinating and about as different from the tame, idyllic Tuscan towns as you could possibly get. My parents and I had just spent the week wandering around Siena, Lucca and Florence and I had grown weary of it. All the toursits, all the fake images and history hawking stores were grating on me. Naples was quite the change.
Although Rome is probably a bigger city and Milan a more sophisticated one, Naples is the first Italian city that I have visited that feels like a proper CITY, all caps. I had nearly despaired of never finding an Italian town that had the hustle and bustle that I enjoy in New York and crave when I’m away. Well, I don’t think it’s possible to get any closer. The city didn’t remind me of Brooklyn as so many people have claimed, but it felt more familiar than the hyper-aware atmosphere in Siena and Pavia.
After traveling all around Italy, my parents and I agree that Naples was our favorite city, though we all like the city for different reasons. My mom liked how the city always had something to look at, something new to see and activate you imagination. My dad enjoyed how everything was weird and looked like art. I liked how it was completely unlike every other Italian city I’ve ever been to, but still completely Italian. It was a little messier, a little less proper and a little more free.
If you’re even thinking about going to Naples on your next trip to Italy, go. It’s an experience, it’s a city unlike everywhere else you’ve been. The food is good, the desserts spectacular. The sights more abundant than you’d expect. Get some pizza, go to the archaeological museum. Stay at Hotel Piazza Bellini and try some cassata. Naples is a fascinating city and one that every Italophile should see.
Have you ever been to Naples? If so, did you like it? If not, do you want to go?