Naples: To see or not to see?
There’s a bit of an ongoing debate about one of Italy’s most famous cities. Naples—or Napoli—has an incredibly glamorous past. From the lyrics crooned by Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, and the like to images of screen legends like Sophia Loren roaming the streets in classic fashion, Naples has played a major role in the glamour of the golden age of Hollywood. Sadly though, the last few decades have not been too kind to Italy’s major port town.
Study abroad is a time in your life when time and money are of equal value. When you’re in Europe for such a limited time a day wasted in a disappointing place is just as bad as money wasted so you have to make good choices about where to travel. Which brings us back toNaples. Does a history of glamour outweigh the notoriety of a place that is now most famous for its piles of trash?
As you walk through the streets of Naples you find yourself surrounded quite literally by piles of trash everywhere, angrily yelling locals (probably upset about the trash everywhere), and buildings which look more something out of Cold War Russia than seaside Italy. Americans and outsiders are not looked at in a good light, and there is no attempt by locals to hide their feelings of discontent at your tourist status. It’s rather jarring if all you’ve ever known of Naples came from the Naples of the past.
Close to the train station you’ll find some of the seediest bits of town, while the areas closer to the sea are a bit nicer. If you walk out to Castel dell’Ovo you can drink in some great views of the coast and Mount Vesuvius. Further outside of the city center lies a little piece of heaven for art lovers, the Capodimonte Museum. The gorgeous grounds and beautiful building are home to works by greats like Caravaggio, Michelangelo, and even Andy Warhol.
The real star of Napoli is its pizza. The stories of Neapolitan pizza seem too good to be true. How could pizza in one place on earth be so drastically different from anywhere else? With all the same ingredients and pretty basic cooking methods it can’t be that different, can it? Well that’s the question of the century, because it inexplicably is. It looks like normal Italian pizza (which is nothing to scoff at by any means), it smells like normal Italian pizza, but it tastes like it was made by a Roman God and sprinkled with Tinkerbelle‘s fairy dust for good measure. It’s life altering. If ever in life there was a time to eat until you’re so full you can’t move, head on over to L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele, the place made famous by Eat, Pray, Love, and do it.
So, where does that leave us? The perfect way to see Naples on student’s budget is probably just passing through. There’s absolutely no sense in spending more than a few hours there when you’re on a limited budget of time and money. On your way to a beautiful seaside escape nearby - Amalfi, Capri, or Positano are all great choices - make a pit stop in Napoli to check out the museum and get your hands on as many pizzas as you can. After all, anyone who has seen Julia Roberts’ mouthwatering “I’m having a relationship with my pizza” scene in Eat, Pray, Love knows that this pizza cannot be missed. In fact, don’t limit yourself to eating the pizza there – take a few for the road. You won’t regret it and it will make the perfect snack at whatever seaside town you land in.
Everything was so organized and the tour guide was AWESOME! They had everything planned out and I got a really good feel for life in the city. We even got to cut the lines for the Anne Frank House and Van Gogh museum. It was definitely worth the money and I would recommend to anyone looking for a fun filled weekend.Ben Swick, University of Dayton ~ ISA Maynooth University, Fall 2015
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