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Giada de Laurentiis in Naples Italy
Giada de Laurentiis in Naples Italy

Guide to Naples

Italy’s third-largest city might have a reputation for being the most chaotic, but Naples is a city steeped in history dating back to ancient Greco-Roman times, with its own distinctive culture. Located on southern Italy’s western coast, the metropolis sits along the Gulf of Naples, and visitors come here to take in the deep blue waters of the bay (and islands like Capri), see the ancient ruins of Pompeii and nearby Mt. Vesuvius, and of course, indulge in the iconic Neapolitan pizza.

One of the most ancient cities in Europe, Naples’ historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, thanks to its role as one of the most important port cities in the Mediterranean and a center of art and architecture from the Middle Ages through the Renaissance. You can still stroll and see the well-preserved forts, palaces, churches, and monuments that reveal the city’s long history. 

We also have Naples to thank for the invention of pizza as we know it! It was here that bakers began using tomatoes and salumi to top flatbreads for a cheap, hearty meal. Pasta-making is also prevalent in the region; the nearby small town of Torre Annunziata has been home to artisan pasta manufacturers since the early 1900s, and Giada’s grandfather had his own pasta factory there. Naples is also called the “city of coffee,” and Neapolitans often drink it multiple times a day. Instead of sitting and enjoying a cup at their leisure, patrons stand at the bar and hurriedly sip their coffee before heading to their next destination. 

Getting Around

While many only make a quick stop in Naples on their way to Capri or the Amalfi coast, it’s worth an extended stay to explore the city’s rich history. Naples has a small airport—Naples International Airport, also known as Capodichino Airport (NAP)—that’s only about 2.5 miles or a roughly $18 cab ride from the city center. 

However, it may be cheaper or more convenient to fly into Rome, which is only 150 miles north of Naples, and take the train from there. The Leonardo Express train from Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci International Airport in Fiumicino (FCO) will connect you to Termini, Rome’s international train station, where you can catch your ride to Napoli Centrale. The fastest train takes a little over an hour for around $30-45 one-way, while slower trains take 2-3 hours and start at $15. 

Once in Naples, you can explore most attractions in the historic center on foot. There are also two metro lines as part of an underground subway system that can take you longer distances, and you can reach other nearby destinations, like Pompeii, on the Circumvesuviana train. While taxis are available around the city, know that they may not necessarily default to English as they do in other large Italian cities.

Eat

   Coco Loco

If you need a break from pizza, visit Coco Loco for incredible, inventive selections from the sea, from raw crudos to seafood pastas and fried plates. There are also meat-based dishes, like pasta with a slow-cooked onion and meat sauce (a specialty in Neapolitan cuisine), and a huge 600-bottle wine list.

Vicoletto Santa Maria Cappellavecchia 5
+39 081 7641722

   Da Concettina ai Tre Santi - Ciro Oliva

This classic Neapolitan pizzeria has been run by the Oliva family for four generations, but its current 20-something chef, Ciro Oliva, has turned this institution into a “Neapolitan pop icon” with bright pop-art branding serving inventive pizzas and even a pizza tasting menu with a fun, hip vibe. They have all the classics—Neapolitan pies and frittas (stuffed fried pizzas that'll remind you of a calzone)—but also modern twists like Giada’s favorite ricotta-stuffed crust and a lemon aperitif pizza meant to be a palate cleanser.

Via Arena alla Sanità 7 Bis
+39081290037

   Europeo di Mattozzi

​​Europeo di Mattozzi Naples Italy

This traditional Neapolitan trattoria is a true locals’ spot offering old-world ambiance with copper pots, oil paintings, and framed photos covering the walls. Serving home-style pasta, pizza, seafood and more, it’s a favorite among Napolitani. The pasta patate e provola, potato and provolone pasta, is a popular pick.

Via Marchese Campodisola 4
+39 081 5521323

   Gran Caffè Gambrinus

Giada de Laurentiis at Gran Caffè Gambrinus

Fuel your days of sightseeing in Naples with the strongest espresso in the city from one of our favorite coffee shops in the world. This historic coffeehouse has been around since 1860 and attracted politicians, artists, and intellectuals like Ernest Hemingway and Oscar Wilde. Pair your coffee with a sweet treat like the moist, rum-soaked pastry called Rum Baba.

Via Chiaia 1
+39081417582

   Pizzeria Da Attilio

Pizzeria Da Attilio Naples Italy

This family-owned pizzeria has been around since 1938 and still has an old-school interior and walls covered with celebrity photos from decades past. Owner Attilio Bachetti, the grandson of the original owner, has been making pizza since he was 6 years old. This pizza maestro is multitalented—he’s also a sommelier, pastry chef, and an expert on cheese and oils. Come to watch Attilio in action by the wood-burning oven and order one of his famous ricotta-stuffed star-shaped pizzas. There are only a few tables, so prepare for a wait during peak times.

Via Pignasecca 17
+39 0815520479

   Pizzeria Salvo

Pizzeria Salvo Naples Italy

This modern pizzeria is our top pick for pizza fritta. A Neapolitan favorite, this classic pizza variety is folded and deep-fried and will remind you of a calzone without the tomato sauce. Order the Ripieno Fritto stuffed with fresh ricotta, smoked mozzarella and cicoli napoletani, crispy pork cracklings.

Riviera di Chiaia 271
+390813599926

   Sorbillo

Giada de Laurentiis and Aunt Raffy at Sorbillo Naples Italy

Sorbillo is another legendary pizza spot with several locations in Naples, including one by the sea (Gino Sorbillo Lievito Madre al Mare), which is an excellent place to enjoy a Neapolitan pie with a view. The original (Gino e Toto Sorbillo) can be found on via dei Tribunali (also known fondly as “via Della Pizza”) in the historic city center and has been around since 1935. You’ll recognize it by its blue-and-white striped awnings and the lines out the door. If you call in advance, they can write on your pizza, which is a fun way to plan a special surprise for someone.

Via dei Tribunali 32
+39081446643

Do

   Caffè Sospeso

The Neapolitan tradition of caffè sospeso—paying it forward by buying someone else's coffee—started here in the late 1800s and lives on at local cafés to this day. It works like this: Order a sospeso (Italian for suspended) and pay the cost for two coffees. You drink one and leave behind the receipt for the second cup for someone to enjoy later. Anyone who can’t afford a coffee can take a sospeso receipt out of a jar and show it to get their cup for free. Try it for yourself at the aforementioned Gran Caffè Gambrinus—some pizzerias do it with pizza, too! 

Via Chiaia 1
+39081417582

   Galleria Umberto I

Galleria Umberto I Naples Italy

Built in the late 1800s, the Galleria Umberto I public shopping arcade is a beautiful cross-shaped building known for its arched glass dome that marks the center of Naples’ historic downtown. Come here to appreciate the architecture as light fills the space, with its high ceilings and original mosaic flooring. It’s a great place to stroll and window-shop or stop for a quick espresso break.

Via Santa Brigida 68

   Island Day Trip

Island Day Trip from Naples Italy

Naples’ Molo Beverello ferry terminal is the gateway to the islands of the Gulf of Naples, a popular vacation destination for Italians and international tourists alike. Capri is the most popular for a taste of glitzy island life, and Isola d’Ischia, a volcanic island famed for its thermal spas, is another popular choice for an idyllic escape. You can also go off the beaten path and explore a hidden gem like Procida, the smallest island of the group. Ferries and high-speed hydrofoils will take you to most of these islands in about an hour, as well as to the coastal towns of Amalfi, Positano, and Sorrento. For a true movie-star experience, rent a private boat to arrive in style and get a personalized tour of the area as you go.

Via Marina
+390818386214

   La Neapolis Sotterrata

Within the Monumental Complex of San Lorenzo Maggiore, you can explore the underground ruins of the ancient city of Neapolis, founded in 470 BCE by Greek colonizers. The archaeological excavations of La Neapolis Sotterrata (or subterranean Neapolis) reveal the history of how the city changed hands over time, with a Roman forum built on top of older Greek ruins. About half of the original Roman market has been excavated, and there’s actually a room where the layered remains of four different civilizations are clearly visible at once. The San Lorenzo Basilica—one of the oldest churches in Naples, which you can tour as well—was built at the exact geographic center of the ancient Greco-Roman city below. 

Piazza San Gaetano 316
+39081211 0860

   Napoli Soccer Game

If the team is playing while you’re in town, it’s worth your while to check out a Napoli soccer game at Diego Armando Maradona stadium. With the founding of the S.S.C. Napoli club going back almost a century, Naples is rich with soccer history and games are always a fun local experience. Napoli fans are notoriously some of the most enthusiastic in Italy! Fun fact: The team is owned by some of Giada’s family members.

Via Giambattista Marino
+390815095344

   Mercato Della Pignasecca

Mercato Della Pignasecca Naples Market

The oldest and largest outdoor food market in Naples, La Pignasecca offers a mix of stalls, pizzerias, and specialty food shops running along the length of Via Pignasecca. You’ll find everything from produce, fresh-caught fish, cheese, and pastries to handmade shoes, clothing, and other affordable wares. Make sure to sample typical fried street foods like pasta fritti, arancini and fried calamari in brown paper cups. Even if you aren’t shopping for your own groceries, it’s worth getting here early to people-watch—seeing locals haggle in the unmistakable Neapolitan dialect is quintessential Naples at its best.

Via Pignasecca 28

   Pizza Classes at Vincenzo Capuano

Pizza Classes at Vincenzo Capuano Naples Italy

Perhaps the only thing better than eating pizza in Naples is making it yourself. Learn the tricks of the trade in the birthplace of pizza with world champion pizza master Vincenzo Capuano (known as Capvin) at one of his pizza-making classes.

Via Cardinale Guglielmo Sanfelice, 48
+393802042164

   Pompeii

Pompeii Italy

A 30–40 minute train ride from Naples, Pompeii is a town frozen in time that is truly a must-visit. You don’t need to be a history buff to appreciate these archaeological ruins that give you an incredible look at ancient Roman life dating back to when Pompeii was founded in 600 BCE. The 79 CE eruption of nearby Mount Vesuvius buried the town in ash, but that’s also what helped preserve so much of it for us to experience today. We recommend pairing your Pompeii visit with a hike up Vesuvius for beautiful views of the bay and the city of Naples.

Via Villa dei Misteri 2, Pompeii (Tourist Info Office)
+390818575347

Stay

   Hotel Britannique

Located in a 19th-century villa overlooking the Gulf of Naples, this boutique hotel offers 72 rooms and suites, a solarium where you can soak up the Italian sunshine, an on-site art gallery, and dining options including the​​ glass-encased Le Pavillon breakfast restaurant, Macphersons for Mediterranean fine dining on the rooftop terrace, and Niq Bar for wine and cocktails with a sunset seaview.

Corso Vittorio Emanuele 133
+390810902000
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