The legend tells that the origin of Naples is due to the mermaid Parthenope who killed herself in the Gulf of Naples because Ulysses refused her love. Only a couple of centuries ago, it was the second largest city in Europe.
If you’ve sometimes felt that all European cities are beginning to look the same, you should spend some time in Naples, which is like nowhere else you have ever been on Earth.
It’s had a pretty bad press over the past few hundred years, starting with a reputation for squalor and prostitution in the 17th Century, and continuing to the present-day, with stories about organised crime, uncollected rubbish mountains and street thefts. It’s the city, it seems, that everyone – not least other Italians – loves to hate.
“The simple fact is Naples is no more intimidating than any other large city. But its great advantage is it’s ten times more fascinating than most, a mixture of different historical periods that pitch up in one intense, often decrepit, melting pot” (source: tripadvisor.com)
The entire population seems to be in the streets that spill down into its harbor, and they’re all talking at once. Colors here
seem brighter, and aromas of pizza, waft through the air, along with operatic areas (everyone here is a tenor waiting to be discovered), laughter, and maybe an argument or two. It’s a city that will keep all your senses busy.
Naples’ centro storico (historic centre) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, its archaeological treasures are among the world’s most impressive, and its swag of vainglorious palaces, castles and churches make Rome look positively provincial.
Then there’s the food. Blessed with rich volcanic soils, a bountiful sea, and centuries of culinary know-how, the Naples region is one of Italy’s epicurean heavyweights, serving up the country’s best pizza, pasta and coffee, and many of its most celebrated seafood dishes, street foods and sweet treats. Welcome to Italy’s most unlikely masterpiece.
The historic center of Naples drips with Old World charm — faded laundry strung between buildings, fish shops spilling tubs of clams and eels onto the sidewalk, pasticcerie tucked near Renaissance churches.
“Here we are at last. The Italian proverb says “See Naples and die” but I say, see Naples and live” ― Arthur John Strutt