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Naples Travel Guide

About Naples

Naples is that exciting friend who you don’t know whether to party with or call the police on. It’s easy to take fright at its chaotic, moped-clogged streets, or turn away from its disintegrating, locked up churches that would be treasures in any other city.

But southern Italy’s biggest conurbation is an exhilarating too: it’s a palace in the shadow of Vesuvius, with Pompeii down the road and Capri a mere boat trip away.

It’s an ancient Mediterranean outpost that existed long before the Italian state, pre-dating the Roman Republic by centuries. That’s why it has a world-beating collection of ancient Greek and Roman artefacts in the National Museum of Archaeology - every time a new building goes up, some wonder of the city’s immense past is discovered.

To get to grips with Naples, head to the legendary Spaccanapoli, the street that runs through the historic centre. Wander its narrow, cobbled lanes where women in open doorways lament at the news and old men play cards in medieval piazzas. Explore its little cafés and shops, hidden beneath porticoes of crumbling stone.

This might not be the Naples you’ve heard of, but Mayor Luigi de Magistris has done much to clean up the city’s image in recent years. He resolved the long-running rubbish collection crisis and pedestrianised the seafront; the city’s dingy subway has been revamped with jaw-dropping art.

It’s time to scale the ramparts at Castel Nuovo again, to watch the waves roll in. Perhaps stroll along a dusk-lit waterfront to select a seafood restaurant. Spend time staring at frescoes by Carvaggio or take pleasure in preserved Pompeii. You could even row into the breathtaking Blue Grotto at nearby Capri.

Naples still has its share of problems, not helped by the financial crisis which led the city to the brink of bankruptcy. But volatility is part of its character – it blends classical sophistication with contemporary bedlam. That’s why it’s Italy’s most heady and intoxicating city.

Key facts

Population:
962,940 (2010).
Latitude:
40.845870
Longitude:
14.281064

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City Highlight: Naples

Shadowed by colossal Mount Vesuvius, Naples’ close proximity to Pompeii’s ruins and Capri’s glassy beaches make it a convenient Italian tourism hub

Featured Hotels

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Port Alba Relais

A haven for book-lovers, Port Alba Relais houses a wonderful library with sections dedicated to the city's art, music and history alongside a book swapping section. Rooms with wooden beams are dedicated to literary genres and furnished with bedding and accessories from Mario Bottiglieri. It has a super central location and some rooms overlook buzzing Piazza Dante.

Chiaja Hotel de Charme

Situated on Naples' premier shopping street, Chiaja Hotel de Charme is housed in a former residence of a marquis. The owners have recreated a period feel with restored architectural details such as marble fireplaces and grand staircases alongside decorative touches like the gilt-framed portraits and antique furnishings.

Grand Hotel Oriente

A few minutes from Toledo metro station, the Grand Hotel Oriente is within easy walking distance of both the historic centre and the seafront. Sleeping quarters are clean and bright with large comfortable beds and immaculate bathrooms. Ask for a room with a private terrace to soak up the sounds of the city.

Grand Hotel Parkers

One of the finest hotels in Naples, the Grand Hotel Parkers has 71 luxuriously appointed rooms along with a spa, a beauty salon, restaurant and the exclusive atmosphere of an historical palace. It is decorated with belle époque-style frescoes and paintings, and Armani-clad guests lounge in the foyer in gilt Louis XVI chairs or on the stunning sea-view terrace.

Grand Hotel Vesuvio

The grand dame on the seafront, this 5-star deluxe hotel is renowned for hosting millionaires and screen legends. Appropriately, its refined public spaces drip with twinkling chandeliers and are furnished with period antiques, and it has a cabin cruiser service which lets guests island hop in style. The Caruso Roof Garden restaurant is gorgeous too.

Romeo Hotel

Eschewing the Baroque extravagance of other luxury hotels, the Romeo Hotel is a temple of modernist design. The striking steel-and-glass exterior encases soothing minimalist interiors of marble, wood, stone and steel. The rooftop restaurant and pool include one of Naples' few sushi bars and there's a seriously sexy modern spa.