Naples is undergoing a renaissance. Once more famous as the birthplace of pizza margherita and overflowing trashcans, the city is now buzzing with pride and vespas riders, fueled by the innovation for which Neapolitans are masters. From magnificent ancient cultural landmarks displaying masterpieces by Caravaggio and Titian to a growing notoriety for contemporary art, Naples exudes old world charm and revitalization.
When to Go
Summer ushers in the high season, high prices and high temperatures of 90 degrees-plus. In August many restaurants are closed and many museums do not have air-conditioning. April, May and October are the best months to enjoy mild temperatures and comfortably visit the historical sites and take in characteristic streets and piazzas. Mid-November through December marks the Christmas Nativity market along Via San Gregorio Armeno where visitors from around the world purchase handcrafted pieces.
Cultural and religious celebrations abound in Naples. Passionately devout Neapolitans gather at the Duomo for the city's most important religious ceremony, the liquefaction of the blood of patron saint San Gennaro three times yearly—in December, May and September. Maggio dei Monumenti occurs in May with access to monuments usually closed to the public, concerts and exhibitions. The Napoli Pizza Village occurs in June drawing pizza-makers and pizza fans from around the world. Theatre goers and music lovers grace the city in June and July for the Napoli Teatro Festival Italia with venues ranging from the San Carlo Theater to piazzas and archaeological sites. In September, the Napoli Film Festival takes place attracting international celebrities. Confirm all events close to the scheduled date.
What to Eat
The rumored birthplace of pizza as we know it, Pizza Margherita was created in 1889 in Naples for the Queen's visit but there's much more to Neapolitan cuisine. From the sfogliatella pastry to the pasta alla genovese made with beef, onion, carrot, celery, parsley, olive oil, butter, lard, pork and white wine, and let's not forget about i fritti (fried food) including il cuoppo, pizzelle and pasta cresciuta and caffè alla nocciola (espresso mixed with hazelnut cream).
Souvenir to Take Home
Take home a taste of Naples with artisanal roasted coffee and a macchinetta napoletana to make the famous brew. Historic coffee bars are found on Spaccanapoli and near Piazza del Plebiscito. If you're looking for a contemporary sculpture or piece of art stop by the local artisan shop Le Voci di Dentro or browse the shops on Via San Gregorio Armeno renowned for handcrafted nativity sets.
- Nat Geo Expeditions
Sustainable Travel Tip
Naples is completely accessible by foot and with public transportation, but wandering around different neighborhoods by foot is the best way to discover the city. Thankfully, there are many walking tours that spotlight the area's history, architecture and museums.
Escape the city center. A 20-minute bus ride from the Mergellina neighborhood toward Posillipo offers spectacular views along the ascent and descent. Stop at Palazzo Donn'Anna and take a seat on the balcony at Moccia a Posillipo, a coffee bar with an unparalleled view of the seemingly endless sea, Mount Vesuvius and the Bay of Naples. Continue on to discover the fishing port of Marechiaro with a view of Capri on a clear day.