Going to Naples, Italy?
Going to Naples, Italy? I just wrote up these recommendations for a colleague that is visiting there soon and I thought the SonoPath community members, as well as new visitors to SonoPath.com may find this entertaining or even useful. :)
Santa Lucia/Castel del Ovo/Piazza del Plebiscito: This is my favorite part of Naples that has undergone a renaissance the last number of years and is very safe and walk friendly and surprisingly inexpensive for Europe. This is the cultural center for most of what we know in North America as "Italian” since most of the Italian immigration was from South of Rome in the 19/20th centuries so they brought with them the Napolitano culture as well as Roman and Sicilian cultures but no place that I know of contributed to American Italian culture more than what came from Napoli and Santa Lucia region. Its a cultural mecca. Santa Lucia and in specific Gambrinus/Teatro San Carlo was the poet and artists and creators of the Napolitano cuisine hung out historically as was/is Via Chiaia (see the blue arrows).
This Santa Lucia/Castel Del Ovo region is where I stay when in Naples and I highly suggest it regarding location, service, quality/price Santa Lucia Hotel in Santa Lucia Naples. Perfect for a 2-5 day trip and can catch the Ferries from il Porto to all the islands and little Procida island is my favorite for a long day trip or even an overnight (see further for recs there). Santa Lucia Hotel is an old school semi elegant functional, clean, great people and service, English speaking of course and solid wifi. Grand Santa Lucia Hotel http://www.santalucia.it/en/
Hotel Vesuvio (http://www.vesuvio.it/en) if you want something a bit more elegant is a short walk from Hotel Santa Lucia hotel or Hotel Continental (http://www.royalcontinental.it/) if you want to save a few $ but still be clean and functional. Definitely stay in the Santa Lucia area along the water and spend a little extra to get the sea view at any of the hotels. The view to wake up to makes all the difference. These hotels are right in front of Castel del Ovo with a very long promenade walk only region to the left or the right along the bay of Naples and Views of Vesuvius and the bay of Naples. Late night drinks in the Castle del Ovo Borgo is picturesque and I suggest Da Patrizia or La Scialuppa for excellent calamari grigliati and gnocchi a la sorrentina; local dishes. Have your hotel set you up there with reservations as they have pull and you will get you taken care of. Santa Lucia hotel dialed me in nicely last time with La Scialuppa sitting outside on the water. It was red carpet service.
Get your Naples culture on at Canta Napoli for a pizza one evening or any of the pizza places next to or near Gambrinus are all solid. But Canta Napoli plays it up and is really fun.
Do the 3 km stroll in blue arrows (on my map below) both in the morning then again in the evening at dusk and watch the lights change and community come alive. If you are a runner this is a nice 3-4 km run as well.
If you are staying long enough to go visit the islands then the ferry port is next to the big charcoal castle masch’angioino about 20 min walk from Hotel Santa Lucia but go through Piazza del Plebiscito along Teatro San Carlo til you get to the the black castle. The port is on the other side of it. This is a nicer walk than staying along the water to get to the port.
I suggest Procida for a day trip and get a micro taxi tour of the island and eat at La Lampara in Spiaggia della Chiaia. Il Postino was filmed here. See the movie before you come. Even better spend a night in Procida. You will never have a more quaint island evening. Lodging is scarce so take what you can get but this hotel (Hotel/Restaurant Crescenzo http://www.hotelcrescenzo.it/hotel_procida_hotel_ristorant) is solid on the far side of the island sitting on an underwater volcano crater with views of Ischia island. I had one of the best gnocchi a la sorrentino ever here. Try the limoncello made on the island it's exquisite. Second choice for hotel is this one a little more mom and pop; no thrills but quaint and nice (http://www.hotelceleste.it/). I stayed here years ago and wonderful view and up the hill from Crescenzo and Marina di Chiaolella.
If going to Amalfi, Sorrento, Ischia or Capri to continue your Italian trip grab the ferry from the Naples port next to Maschioangioino castle. Makes life easier and the views are spectacular of the bay of Naples. Day trips will be long so if going to these places from Naples, stay overnight and enjoy these places at night instead of just day trips. Leave your luggage in storage at your Santa Lucia hotel and take essential overnight then come back to Santa Lucia afterwards. Retrospect of a place sometimes makes all the difference and you can go back and see what you talked about when spending time elsewhere…. a 2-day then break overnight on Procida or other island then repeat another 2-days in Santa Lucia would be a perfect 5 day trip.
Naples is a much safer city than it ever has been but just traveling in general leave you "bling" at home and use front pocket bill folds or money clips. I have never ever had any concern at all in the region described here so be at ease but don’t make yourself a target either of course with "bling" and a fat wallet in the back pocket. This area of Naples is as safe as Florence or Venice or any major tourist spot in Italy. The tourists have increased greatly in this area in the last number of years and lots of police around.
Enjoy Italy and I hope my indications have been useful. Naples is a hidden gem!
-Dr. Eric Lindquist