“Vedi Napoli e poi muori”

I’ve lived in Napoli since January 2018. I’ve tried to explore as much of the city as possible, but I think you could live a lifetime here and never see it all. You can read my love letter here.

It goes without saying that the food is unreal. There’s a list of favoured places here. I’ve put on a few pounds since I moved here, any regrets? Nope.

The quote is “See Naples and die” so I’ve compiled a few places that I love.

 

Views

It is essential that you view Napoli from a good vantage point. Here are a few good places.

  • Certosa di San Martino: 6
  • Castel Sant Elmo: 5
  • Scale del Petraio: Free
  • Parco Floridiana: Free
  • Parco Virgiliano: Free
  • Capodimonte: Free
  • Lungomare

 

Churches & Resting Places

The Duomo – A must see. Try to go during a service, but respect the silence. You can’t walk around the outside of the Duomo, you can only see the facade. Visit the crypt under the altar. 

Gesu Nuovo – Don’t judge a book by its cover. A behemoth of a church, brutal from the outside, opulent as anything on the inside. 

Santa Chiara – Modern church built within the ruins of an ancient church. Beautiful cloisters with original Majolica tiles and access to the remains of a Roman Bath.  

Sansevero Capella – The most incredible sculptures you’ll ever see. Book tickets in advance to beat the queues. 

Cimitero delle Fontanelle – Bones. Piles upon piles of bones. Read the history before visiting. 

San Gaudioso Catacombs – You must do the guided tour, the story of the preparation of the bodies is pretty intense. 

 

Piazzas

Plebiscito – a beautiful, expansive Piazza, the church in the centre of the curved columns is stunning.

San Domenico Maggiore and Piazetta Nilo – where the students hang out. Lots of bars and places to sit and take a pause.

Piazza Bellini – another favourite with students.

 

Markets

Porta Nolana Market – vibrant food market!

Pignasecca Market – fruit, fish, clothes… it’s full of hustle and bustle. 

 

Instagram Spots

Doll Hospital 

Santi Marcellino e Festo 

Palazzo della Borsa 

Palazzo dello Spagnuolo 

Metro stations!

 

Museums and Buildings

MANN – Archeological Museum, lots to see. 

Madre – Modern Art Museum, can easily be seen in around 1.5 hours, but worth a trip. 

San Carlo – If you can’t see a show here, make sure you do one of the guided tours. It’s the oldest theatre in the world.

Palazzo Reale – The staircase in the Royal Palace is incredible, as is the private theatre. 

Castel del’Ovo – The ‘Egg Castle’ in the sea is a beautiful 

 

Napoli Tips

  • Scooters – Don’t jump out of the way of scooters. They’ll go around you. 
  • Crossing the road – You must be brave and simply walk out on the road, otherwise you’ll be standing there forever. 
  • Metro – It’s useful for long distances, but it’s often quicker to walk. 
  • Coffee – At the bar is cheaper than at the table. Amaro = no sugar. The cup will be v hot. 
  • Taxis – They are incredibly expensive. Always check the price against the chart on the back of the Driver’s chair. 
  • Language – A little ‘grazie’, ‘buongiorno’ and ‘buonasera’ will get you a long way. Neapolitans are incredibly friendly and fiercely proud of their culture. 

Look at Lucca

Lucca was an unexpected gem on our trip to Italy. A walled city in Tuscany, a short train journey from Pisa and Florence, full of charm and history. We jumped on two wheels (sans motor) and started exploring.

Our first stop was for a Marmalade Cornetto and Macchiato on the corner of the Piazza Napoleone en route to pick up some lunch supplies. I bumbled through ordering focaccia before a cycle around the 4.2km city walls. Cycling within the walls is a bit tricky due to pedestrians, Vespas and small dogs, so watch out!

Lucca isn’t very big, it’s a chilled out city with peaceful piazzas and shaded alleyways. We cycled around the walls for around 2 hours, before despatching our bikes and making our way to our hotel. We didn’t stay within the walls, a short ten-minute walk in a stunning small hotel, complete with grand bed, balcony and ornate cornicing.

We ventured back into the city walls where we enjoyed Aperitivo in the Piazza dell’Antiteatro, before having dinner at the Local Food Market in a beautiful courtyard. The food was spectacular, local cheeses and honey, pasta, followed by perfect pannacotta.

The next day we climbed the Torre Guinigi to take in the beautiful red roofs and Tuscan hills in the distance.

We were there for only one night and two days, and I’m looking forward to returning at some point in the future.

 

 

 

 

Intriguing Iceland

Iceland is one of the most spectacular places I’ve ever visited. The air envelops you with a calming embrace, meanwhile, the scenery induces oohs and ahhs. It’s been over six years since I set foot on the island that caused travel chaos around the world, and I’ve not been able to shake it from my mind since.

Over two trips, I’ve spent a total of eight days visiting, I’ve only seen the South West pocket of the country. However, I’ve waxed lyrical about its beauty and encouraged many friends to visit.

So. What makes Iceland so special? It’s otherworldly. An isolated place, with incredible history, culture and open people. The moon-like, Volcanic terrain and unpredictable geysers stop you in your tracks, visually. The epic landscape has featured in Game of Thrones, and thus increased the country’s popularity amongst tourists.

If you have a limited time, I’d recommend hiring a car. We took the Golden Circle tour with Reykjavik Excursions and while it was really interesting (the tour guide gave us a brief history of Iceland), the freedom to move about more and travel further afield would have been good. Gulfoss, the Geysir field, and the stunning Pingvellir Lake were included in the round trip. We visited the Blue Lagoon (obvs) and it was a relaxing experience if a little pricey. There are many alternatives – less touristy hot springs you can visit – the Blue Lagoon gets a lot of flak, but I liked it.

My friend is a whale fanatic, so we donned full body cozy overalls and ventured out on a whale watching excursion. The whales weren’t playing ball and we only saw them briefly, but it was a pretty special experience. If you’d like to see Reykjavik from the sea, experience some of the coast and drink the best hot chocolate, book yourself on. It’s around 3 hours and it’s a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

Post whale watching, we had lunch in the harbour. I had fish soup and it was a euphoric experience. Hofnin is a smart restaurant overlooking the small boat harbour, quaintly decorated, serving traditional and fusion dishes. The fish soup was a rich, glossy, brown broth with tender langoustines and shavings of fennel. The bread… Crispy sourdough with smoked salt butter. Six years on and I can still taste the first spoonful.

When we returned a couple of years later, I was saddened to see that the restaurant wasn’t open for lunch, so I ventured round the corner to the Sægreifinn round the corner where I ate another delicious, if less refined, bowl of fish soup. Low and behold, when I left, Hofnin was opening up. That was the day of two lunches and I don’t regret a single moment of it. 

Other things of note in Reykjavik… The church, Hallgrimskirkja is quite imposing on the outside, but warm on the inside. Take a trip up the tower to see a spectacular view of the city. The Opera house (Harpa) is amazing for a wander, even round the atrium.

Top Tips

  • Download the ‘Appy Hour’ app, it shows which bars are hosting happy hour and at what time.
  • You can only buy alcohol (stronger than 2% ABV) from the Government run alcohol store Vinbudin.
  • The Blue Lagoon is near the airport, so tie in a trip when you’re arriving or departing.
  • Bonus supermarkets are cheaper than 7/11 stores.

 

 

Leave the woman alone!

First of all, Holly Willoughby was deemed to be ‘abandoning’ her children by going to Oz to co-host ‘I’m a Celeb’. Now there’s outcry as she’s informed the press that she’s taking her children out of school for the duration, so they can live with her in the land Down Under. The woman can’t win! I believe the kids will, though, and here’s why…

 

For around 10 weeks every Autumn my Dad worked as a Sheep-Shearer in Norway. From the ages of 0 – 10, we went with him. Mum home-schooled us and when we returned to school in November we were always ahead of our classmates.

 

Mum made sure we had a mixed curriculum. We’d cycle into the local town, a 5-mile round trip, every day. We weren’t short of arts and crafts materials and Mum taught us how to cook and bake. We’d go out for walks in the evenings and weekends and Dad would tell us about different types of trees and we’d collect Blueberries amongst other things as we went.

 

At no point did I ever feel like I was missing out. Quite the opposite. I believe our time in Norway and what could be considered an ‘unconventional’ childhood/approach, has helped shape who I am today. From a young age, I communicated with peers without a shared language. I was surrounded by a different culture. Encouraged to try new foods.

 

I loved it.

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Neglect.

When I moved to Napoli I had a range of things I was pretty set on. That’s part of the reason I started the blog, to share my experiences and use it as a little online diary for myself and to share tips for places I’ve been to.

I wanted to throw myself into learning Italian. Run or exercise every day. Be a more conscious eater. Drink less. Cook more and use my phone less.

My Italian comprehension isn’t too bad, I can stumble along through ordering, answering questions, but I really haven’t put the effort in. I guess starting two new jobs and adapting to life in Italy has taken up a fair bit of time.

I’ve definitely increased my alcohol consumption and the food has been too good not to indulge and enjoy. I have cooked more and following my holiday in August, I am now ready to wipe the slate clean and exercise more.

I was without a phone for around three weeks (it was stolen) and it was astonishing how much free time I had on my hands. Now, I obviously had that free time before I was phoneless, I just chose to scroll mindlessly through ‘content’, skim reading articles and watching countless videos of cakes being iced.

I’ve neglected myself, my learning and my writing. I’ve always been pretty terrible at keeping New Year resolutions, so instead of the Gregorian calendar, I’m going for the academic year approach… wish me luck!

Cibo, Caffè e Spritz.

Italy is the nation of incredible food, coffee and wine. Naples is the capital of pizza. I’m very happy here. Molto bene.

Naples is awash with caffès, trattorias, pizzerias, food stands, pasticceria and more. In the short time we’ve lived here, I’ve eaten very well. A little too well. Below are my highlights and I’ll be adding to these as we go along.

 

Pizzas: expect to queue for all of the below…

Sorbillo: Via dei Tribunali. The most famous of the Sorbillo family pizzerias. It’s not my favourite,  but it’s good.

Zia Esterina: Try Sorbillo’s Pizza Fritte. I love the Provola e Pepe, which is smoked cheese and pepper. Wash down with a Nastro in Piazza Plebiscito.

Di Matteo: Forever in my heart as it’s the first Neapolitan pizza I tried. Don’t expect silver service, but do try the Arancino. The Salsiccia e Friarielli pizza is A+++.

Da Michele: You’ll see a few pics of Julia Roberts, she visited this pizzeria in ‘Eat, Pray, Love’. A Neapolitan institution. You can order a Margherita or Marinara here. Nothing else. It’s worth the wait.

La Notizia: Of all the pizzas I’ve had in Naples, La Notizia took me by total surprise. I wasn’t quite expecting the incredible flavour combination of the Santa Lucia. Anchovies, black olives and tomatoes. Utterly delicious. We also may have tried the dessert pizza – dark chocolate melted in a folded pizza base. Oh wow.

50 Kalo: Oh yes. A carbonara pizza. Incredible.

Concettina ai Tre Santi: The yellow tomato pizza is unreal. Oh, try the Genovese Frittatine too.

Da Attilio: The star-shaped ricotta stuffed crust pizzas are exceptional, this place isn’t nearly famous enough.

Attanasio: If you’ve never heard of a Tronchetto pizza, I urge you to go here and try it.

 

Restaurants.

Da Nennella: utterly frenetic, the food is very rustic, but its really good fun and costs very little.

Nanni: a wee gem we found on a Sunday. Most places were closed, but this place was full of Italian families having a Sunday get together. Beautiful food, fantastic service and super prices.

Trattoria Medina: Scarpetta, Mozzarella, Arancino… Pasta, provola e patate… Wow. Service is world class too.

La Taverna di Santa Chiara: a gem in the Historic Centre. Beautiful little place, delicious slow food. Incredible meatballs.

Tandem: THE place to get Ragu or Pasta alla Genovese.

Puok: Tommi’s in Copenhagen is absolutely superb, but I don’t think the Django will ever be beaten in my best burger books.

Prosciutteria: From Tagliere to Paninis, really delicious, simple food with an excellent wine list.

A Figlia da Maruzzara: Spaghetti Vongole and superb service. Not to mention perfect Pastiera.

Pescheria Azzurra: A fish stall in Pignasecca market with a small restaurant attached. Fresh seafood and perfectly al dente pasta. An absolute bargain.

 

Coffee.

The Neapolitans are particular about coffee. Preferably no sugar (amaro), definitely no milk, and the cup must be hot.

Passalacqua is my favourite brand, served in Mexico Coffee Bars around the city.

 

Sweet Treats.

Pintauro: The home of exceptional Sfogliatelle. I prefer frolla (shortcrust pastry), while others prefer the riche variety (filo).

Mary’s: In Galleria Umberto you’ll find Mary’s. Always with a substantial queue and for good reason. Their Zeppole (the ridged fried donut with creme pat) are fantastic. Zeppole are traditionally given and eaten on Father’s Day.

Poppella: Fiocco di Neve ‘til I die. The most heavenly little cream bun. Try the original flavour, a very light donut filled with sweet ricotta and cream.

Menella: In my opinion, the best gelato in Napoli.

Casa Infante: A close second to Menella, particularly the Fondente.

 

Aperitivo.

Enoteca Belladonne: Fantastic wine bar in Chiaia with hot and cold bites.

Gran Bar Riviera: Truly quaint cafe bar and fantastic value for money. 

Barril: An outdoor / indoor sort of set up. Delicious (and generous) aperitivo. 

Intra Moenia: A Parisian feeling to this Piazza Bellini based bar/publishers. 

Ceraldi Caffe: Pop in for a Spritz post Via Toledo shopping and be spoiled by the plate of bites.

 

Bars.

Liquid Spirits: Charming bar just off the madness of Piazza San Domenica Maggiore. Downstairs is a fantastic event space with a view of Roman walls. 

Libreria Bresario: 5€ Amaretto Sour – best I’ve ever tasted. Cocktail bar in a book shop. Thursday is jazz night.

Cammarota Spritz: Not for the faint-hearted. 1€ Spritz, not of high quality, but it’s all good fun and next door to Nennella.

Spuzzule: Great wine bar off Via Toledo. 

Oak: A plethora of beers, board games AND free clementines. 

 

 

Pretty Praha

I’ve known the ‘Murano Girls’ since September 2004. I love them to bits and we try and meet up when we can, which can be a bit tricky as we currently span the globe. The ladies from Paris, Inverness, Aberdeen, West Linton, South Cave and Napoli navigated their way to Prague at the start of March. Hannah and Carrie couldn’t join us, due to the sheer distance they’d have to travel! Hannah is in Melbourne, and Carrie is currently making her way home from 18 months on Bird Island in the South Antarctic!

We didn’t plan anything, other than to talk, laugh, eat and drink. My favourite thing about Prague? Wandering around the stunning architecture and being wowed round every corner.

Despite two modes of transport into the city from the airport, it’s both easy and super cheap. You’ll get around 25 Koruna to the £1 and the journey cost 32. Bargain!

Some highlights from the trip…

FOOD

  • Husinec: traditional Czech fare, great cabbage, sausages and more creamed horseradish than you can shake a stick at. Order the Tank Beer 👌🏻
  • Cafe Colore: beef is luscious gravy, crisp white wine and an eye watering selection of austro-French cakes.
  • V Kolvovne: my 7th, 8th and 9th sausages of the day. Venison, smoked pork and beef, absolutely divine! I ordered the Goulash as a starter and it didn’t disappoint. Rich and the still-warm pretzel was the perfect accompaniment.
  • Trudlnik: you’ll find these sweet twirls of joy all around the city. A cross between a doughnut and a bagel, available filled with sweet or savoury.

TO DO

  • CASTLE: it’s a great way to spend a couple of hours, but unless you really want to see inside the cathedrals, Golden Lane and the castle, you can walk about free of charge. Be prepared to queue for security.
  • TRAMS: old and new, the trams of Prague are a fantastic way to see the beautiful scenery.
  • CHARLES BRIDGE: Made famous by Mission Impossible, walk across this both day and night to see different sides of the city. The small lanes next to Charles Bridge are quaint and host a range of brilliant independent shops including the intoxicating gingerbread shop!!
  • WENCESLAS SQUARE: a lot of people told me it’s like Disney for grown ups. It’s incredibly pretty. The famous clock is under repair at the moment, so is covered in scaffolding. You get a pretty spectacular view of the city from the tower though.
  • SEX MACHINE MUSEUM: eyes were opened. Make sure you check out the vintage cinema 🙈
  • GOAP: luckily for me, three fantastic exhibitions were on when I visited. Salvador Dali, Alphonse Mucha and Andy Warhol. Flawless layout and complimentary lockers.

TIPS:

  • “Tip not included” isn’t passive aggressive, it’s a friendly reminder that’s more than likely borne from many rowdy stag parties!! 
  • As soon as you’ve finished your glass, wait staff will ask if you want another.
  • 24hr travel pass is a bargain at 110k (even works out to the airport)
  • Carry your passport – police may stop and ask you to show it and if you can’t, you may be fined…

LANGUAGE:

  • Prosim: you’re welcome / please
  • Djakuji: thank you
  • Ahoj: hello / goodbye
  • Ano: yes
  • Ne: no
  • Pivo: Beer
  • Prost: cheers!!