Why You Should Visit Naples

Why you should visit Naples

Naples felt a lot different than most other towns I visited on my whirlwind Italy trip. Arriving by bus meant driving through dense, chaotic traffic along narrow streets, and compared to places like Rome and Florence, Naples looks…well, grittier. Maybe a little dirty.

Alright, it’s downright ugly at times.

But if you’ve been reading me for awhile you probably already know that I LIVE for those kind of cities.

Most people come to Naples as a gateway to the Amalfi Coast, or for Pompeii, or Capri. It doesn’t seem to strike a chord with most adventurers. For me, though, the experience was one of my favourite. Here’s why you should visit Naples.

Napoli people are awesome

My first intro to Naples was at the Hostel of the Sun — a quirky, colourful little hostel near the waterfront (and a member of Europe Famous Hostels).

Up until that point, my hostel experiences in Italy were completely lacklustre. I was often the oldest person there by 80 years, I hadn’t slept in weeks, and the staff members were usually too busy manning a thousand different guests to care all that much about me. There was a high school group of at least 50 kids at my hostel in Florence, for fucksakes.


Hostel of the Sun Staff

So I showed up at this hostel and was greeted by Luca and his staff, and immediately treated to some espresso. Then I was given the proper spiel — what to do in the city, where to find the best pizza, what walking tour I should go on, etc. They were incredibly attentive during my whole visit, and became friends to me. One evening I was just hanging out in the kitchen, and a staff member came along and gave me some fresh blueberries and a bottle of beer.

AND the hostel hosts free meals twice a week. On Thursday night, we had homemade pasta and bottomless sangria. Then me and a few others hung out in the common room until 5AM smoking and drinking on the patio. The hostel definitely catered to an older crew, and other than a handful of young Canadians saying they were from “east coast Canada” (they meant Toronto), everyone was great. (Screw those guys, though.)

The pizza is so good, you’ll cry

Pizza is kinda what Naples is known for. But you gotta know where to find it…and no, it doesn’t have to be that place where Elizabeth Gilbert ate.

I put this off until the last day of my trip, but me and my friend Lisa finally went to find proper Napoli pizza at Pizzeria Sorbillo after watching some Eurocup in a beer garden. I went for the basic margherita — the classic. I cried. It was so good, I cried. Pizza makes me cry. No seriously.

How to tell it’s good Napoli pizza: the bottom has to look a little black in some places — like a leopard print; the centre must be kinda soupy; there shouldn’t be too many ingredients, and you should be able to fold it in half.

Basically anywhere along Via dei Tribunali is excellent.

I know I have an obsession with Domino’s but this is a whole new level of pizza awesomeness.

It’s not just pizza that’s awesome in Naples, though. On my night out with Harriet, we stopped at Pescheria Mattiucci, a raw seafood standing-room only restaurant. The place was quite crowded, but the owner helped us to set up a table outside.

Pescheria Mattiucci

We consumed an enormous amount of seafood, seriously. PLATES of it. I have never seen bigger oysters in my life. We drank jugs of wine. JUGS! And there I was, still not fully over my smoked salmon food poisoning experience in Spain, pushing around delectable pieces of calamari on my plate. I didn’t eat a whole lot. Still, though, I appreciated the experience.

The Old Town is a confusing and magnificent labyrinth

One day, me and Lisa got hopelessly lost in the Old Town. I have no idea where we were even trying to get to — I think perhaps a lookout over the city. We wandered forever, between narrow streets and under huge awnings overflowing with colourful laundry strung out to dry. Drivers on mopeds were bumper to bumper, and most of them were continuously checking their cell phones.

Naples Old Town

It was sketchy as fuck at times, but memorable too. My favourite scene: two 20-somethings leaning out the bottom windows of their respective apartments, shutters flung open, yelling at each other in Italian conversation from opposite ends of the street.

There are safe, hyper-local places where few tourists tread

My bloggy friend Harriet lives in Naples, and so one evening she invited me out with her friends at Spuzzule.

It took me awhile to find the place — it’s off Via Toledo. But when I arrived, Harriet and her buddies were sitting outside in the street, around a giant wine cask being used as a table. They evidently knew the owner because he kept appearing with more goodies. Harriet is British but she’s lived in Naples for seven years, so it’s fun to watch her switch from the polite, reserved British conversational tone to full-on, hands-flailing Italian.

Anyway. We ordered wine, and beer, and little plates of food. There were Italians all around us, with the exception of our little table. We also had a random American join us because she was drinking alone and well, that’s what people do. The night got weird.

So I was sitting there drinking my beer, and cars kept trying to squeeze down the ridiculously narrow street, and every time the driver would lean out the window and say something to us in good humour about us blocking the way. I shit you not, at one point, a car caught the leg of my stool and started dragging me with it. I kept trying to pull closer in to the table, but everyone was like, “Nah, this is okay.” The drivers weren’t perturbed in the slightest.

Later, we ended up ordering drinks from a sort of kiosk window in this side street lined with bars and clubs and such. We drank on benches and talked about life and flirted with Italian men. As you do.

It’s stunning

I realize I started off by saying how ugly Naples can be at time, but it has pockets of unbelievable beauty too.

There’s the coastline, to begin with. And the Castel Nuovo. Half the treasures from Pompeii are at the Archaeological Museum of Naples. And, well, you won’t find too many people shoving selfie sticks into your face as you stroll the city squares. I think that’s beautiful.

Snails at Naples main train station

Oh, and the main train station is full of giant, colourful snails.

  • December 28 2016

    I totally agree! Naples is all of those things and more, I loved the pizza and the whole buzz of tribunali as well as the views but the Spanish quarter has so much poverty yet it is beautiful in its own way… I’m rambling now! I would love to go back!

    • December 29 2016

      Yay! I’m glad it’s not just me! I LOVED it there!

  • January 10 2017

    Very well put together, great article.

    I was just looking through the places you have been but sadly I was not able to find India in the list. If you have not been here, I invite you visit India and see the glory of Taj Mahal and great night life of Mumbai and Goa. India is so vivid in colors that you will love it each and every day here.
    Shailendra @ Taj Mahal recently posted…How To Reach Agra

    • January 16 2017

      I have not been to India, but it’s on my list!

  • February 02 2017

    Hello fellow east coaster!

    ‘Canadians saying they were from “east coast Canada” (they meant Toronto)’ Lol. I’ve started saying the Maritimes instead.

    I loved Naples, and couldn’t agree more about the pizza. I ended up at l’Antica Pizzeria da Michele by accident, no clue it was supposed to be famous, and got in without having to wait, not sure how that happened. The pizza was phenomenal, but the pizza in Naples in general is out of this world. Pretty much ruined me for pizza anywhere else.

    • February 06 2017

      Right?!! UGH I’d kill to have that pizza again. Haha. I came sorta close in Berlin with a pizza place right around the corner from me. But still not the same. :( Agh!

  • April 19 2017

    Naples sounds adventurous! Thanks for sharing, especially the photos. I am not such a fan of raw foods so I’ll have to stick to their pizzas and pastas.
    Kate recently posted…Quick Update at Mrvapo

    • May 10 2017

      Can’t go wrong with those! Haha

  • February 19 2020
    Ray Clifford

    Hostels in any part of the world never fail to spring a surprise on you, a pleasant one at that, they are always brimming with positive youthful energy not to be found in upscale hotels and resorts and I am glad you went with an open mind and experienced all that and enriched yourself. Naples is very different than other Italian cities, somebody asked me to define Naples in one sentence and I promptly replied that it is a dilapidated version of Florence, to which my friend said Naah it looks more like Italy’s India!
    Ray Clifford recently posted…Being in a painting

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