Napoli: A Misunderstood Beauty


Piazza Dante

Most people know Napoli as the gateway to Capri and the Amalfi Coast, a trash-filled and overcrowded city, a place where you should closely guard your wallet. While these stereotypes are true to some degree, Italy’s third largest city also has so much more to offer.

When I first learned that we’d be moving to Italy, I knew that a trip to Napoli had to happen at some point during our nine months here. My grandpa’s family on my mom’s side is originally from Napoli (the details are a little fuzzy but we know they were leather glove makers) so I was determined to explore this city of my ancestors.

I’ve heard from several people that Napoli is dangerous, dirty, loud, and simply not worth the visit. Napoli is known by most people as “that place where they stole my friend’s wallet”. Although I would still encourage you to keep a close watch on your belongings while in Napoli (as you should in large cities throughout the world), there’s really no reason to avoid this culturally-rich and historical place. Here are my top three reasons to visit the city:

  1. The food: Seafood, pasta, sweets (sfogliatella is incredible), cheese, and… oh yeah, Napoli is the birthplace of pizza – that’s reason alone to visit in my book.
  2. The people-watching: We witnessed aggressive car honking, multiple children on a single Vespa speeding down the sidewalk, and a massive crowd taking part in a taxi strike. And that was just within the first hour of being in Napoli. One of my favorite moments was sitting at an outdoor cafe table and watching the city’s colorful people pass by.
  3. The history: It is believed that the Greeks founded Napoli somewhere around the 7th century BC. I was overwhelmed by the amount of history thrown at me during our tour of underground Napoli, in which we saw the Greek-Roman aqueduct that is 40 meters below ground and the remains of an ancient Roman theater, plus so much more.
The first of many pizzas of the weekend – at Pizzeria di Matteo
Loved the modern art at Museo Madre
The first sfogliatella I’ve ever had – I was instantly hooked


19 thoughts on “Napoli: A Misunderstood Beauty

  1. You are right about the ‘fame’ Napoli (possibly) does not enjoy. I did hear about the dark side of the city. I walked through it briefly (I wish I had more time then), found it gritty but the thing is that I like places with character and grit at times. Napoli’s brand of it appealed to me. Your ancestors were leather glove makers? That is fascinating. Have you tried finding out more about them in Napoli?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree – gritty places often have more character. I think it’s a good thing that not every city is exactly alike and sparkling clean. In regards to finding out more about my family, my mom gave me a list of last names to keep an eye out for and we didn’t run into any store names or anything that had those names. I only found one leather store and they didn’t even make gloves. I’d like to go back with my mom one day and try to find out more!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You did try. That must have added its own tinge to the trip. I mean any place acquires a different touch when you know that you have roots there, even though it might have been generations ago. Amen to the thought of returning to Napoli with your mother to explore it further and good luck with this.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh yes. Napoli we’ve not really been except passing through. Yeah the guide did tell us that we won’t miss anything! Someday, we will properly drive around Italy and give Napoli a chance too!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My husband and I had a day in Napoli last year. He wasn’t fussed but I was determined if nothing else to have pizza. We ended up doing a tour and were staggered at the beauty of the architecture and the coastline and had the best pizza we’ve ever eaten. A triumph! I agree that it is a great pity Napoli is so underrated.

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  4. It’s making me hungry just looking and reading. I have never been to Italy but am hoping to remedy that when I take my motorcycle on the ferry from Ireland to France in May and hope to ride down to the Italian Alps. Won’t make it all the way to Napoli (Naples) but it’s a start 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Thank you for this post. As Neapolitan I feel very frustated to hear that people still rely on stereotypes. My city has a lot of offer, if you give it the chance to do so 🙂


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