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Founded with the name of Parthenope, after a mythical siren, Naples rises from the waters of the gulf of the same name, cradled by Vesuvius. The Castel dell’Ovo stands out against a background that seems frozen in time in postcards the world over. From here you can enjoy a romantic panorama and the enticing smell of the sea. Meanwhile, not far from the port, you can visit the Castel Nuovo, better known as the Maschio Angioino, the theatrical Piazza del Plebiscito, the monumental Galleria Umberto I and the stately Teatro San Carlo, next to the Palazzo Reale.
A stone's throw from these streets is old Neapolis, the historic center and a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1995, which contains some of the oldest churches in Italy and where some works of art are waiting to be discovered in its ancient streets, like the impressive Veiled Christin the San Severo Chapel Museum or the Treasure of San Gennaro in the imposing cathedral. Following the Spaccanapoli, which splits the city neatly in two, you will reach the Piazza del Gesù, famous for the symbolic walls of the Gesù Nuovo Church, on which are carved the musical notes of a mysterious Biblical melody, and for the wonderful majolica cloister of the Santa Chiara Monastery. Go along the crowded Via San Biagio dei Librai and take a minute to take a photo of the unusual little altar dedicated to the legendary Maradona. Then head into Via San Gregorio Armeno, the street of the Neapolitan master crib makers. It is the perfect mix of sacred and profane.
Napl state of mind
It is not by chance that John Turturro called his documentary on Naples and its music Passione: this is certainly something that the Neapolitan people know a lot about! It is impossible to wander through the narrow streets of the historic city center without hearing a lady singing from her balcony while she hangs out her washing in the sun, small boys shouting out the Italian football team's anthem while they play football in the street, or the street traders or shopkeepers offering their customers products of every kind to the sound of music. You will also notice that true love on the face of lovers, embracing or kissing on the seafront as if the blue of their sea could never fade. And, while on the subject of music, if you see the words "Napl state of mind" as you travel around, you should know that this refers to the revival of young artists: from the young Rocco Hunt from Salerno to the Neapolitan Clementino. In recent times the Campania hip hop and rap have demonstrated young people's desire to re-emerge from the ruins of Pompeii.
Gold in the kitchen
If you don't have much time to spend in Naples, your food and wine tour must start in one of the cafeterias near Piazza del Plebiscito: a cup of boiling black coffee, "quickly", as an old tradition has it, is the best way to savor the aromas of this city. And a sfogliatella pastry, still warm, in the "riccia" or "frolla" variety, proves that the local pastry enriches mind and stomach! Following the scent of newly baked bread, sea food caught at dawn, ragù boiling in the pan for whole nights in the houses of the most skillful ladies, you can remain in the Mergellina area or go to Via dei Tribunali where the best, lightest and most patriotic pizza in the world awaits you: the red of the tomatoes that grow on the slopes of Vesuvius, the bright green of fresh basil and the milky white of mozzarella DOP are the ingredients of a dish you will no longer be able to live without.
However, if you manage to get away, don't miss the delicious "costine del maialino nero" at Caserta, a glass of wine in the Avellino countryside, a "panuozzo" filled with meat and cheese at Gragnono, a slice of Caprese cake on the island of the Faraglioni (stacks), a glass of good homemade limoncello or a plate of gnocchi at Sorrento, or a sublime dessert on the Amalfi coast.
What are you waiting for? Pack your bags and leave now!