Tuesday, January 11

One Night in Naples ~ Dirty, Gritty, Delicious


For a last minute weekend getaway we spent one night in Naples ~ Napoli. The city is everything our village is not - loud, dirty, gritty, chaotic & wild, with tons of traffic & maniac drivers. But there is something about it that I love! We had been to Naples before on our honeymoon & have always been meaning to return, even though most guide books had suggested skipping it altogether. There is a raw energy to this ancient city that rivals that of New York - it resonates through the food, street music & unabashed charismatic Napolitani.

We rolled into town on Secondigliano the gritty ghetto & stopped for a bite to eat.  Along this garbage filled street we met the friendliest locals (and probably mafioso). Never once did I feel in danger, the ghettos of Italy don't seem to have the same fear-inducing feel of the mean streets of America. The locals were more curious about our dust covered car - a sure sign we are not from the city than anything else!  Once we started talking in our broken Italian the Napolitani lite up & rambled on at a mile a minute - we barely understood a thing & neither could they - but we had a great time trying! And yet again our love of the people from Napoli was confirmed as they were jovial, friendly and always wanting to feed us more!
 After a quick search for last minute hotel deals we scored with Grand Hotel Europa for under 50 Euro a night (including breakfast) centrally located near the train station with a parking lot across the street (only 10 Euro/day). I recommend the hotel, not the inedible breakfast. 

We checked in to our hotel room, parked the car & hit the streets.

It was a mild January night and the warm sea air had settled nicely over the city. Sounds to me like the conditions we perfect to re-energize with homemade gelato at Gay Odin where I discovered the best cinnamon, sugar & milk flavored gelato I have ever eaten. Three scoops later we were winding our way through the Spanish Quarter and stumbled upon a phenomenal band playing on the street - as the crowd grew so did the speed of the pianists fingers. We were all in awe of this incredible talent tickling away at the keyboard.

Making our way down via Umberto I  we weaved in & out of the crowded streets - juke left, slide right, side step & commit - just go! (All that defensive city-walking from years in NYC kicked in like instinct.) We stopped for drinks in Borgo Marinaro - the fisherman's village for overpriced vino with a view. Just as we were leaving the harbor a steady flicker of blue lights caught our eye, the tell-tale sign of a motorcade, heading straight towards us. In fact they stopped across the street from us where an enormous crowd had been waiting to catch a glimpse of their favorite soccer players. Juventus was in town & all ages were cheering & chanting for them. (If only I followed soccer....)

Well needless to say, after all this excitement we were ready to eat!  


 We decided to try Trianon - the rival pizzeria to the famous Michele. We've now eaten at both & they are equally delicious. We ordered the Margherita DOC with mozzeralle di bufala campana.

Perfectly stuffed, swearing I couldn't eat another bite, we waddled a few blocks back to our hotel... who am I kidding? As full as I was, I still popped in for an array of sweets at a little whole-in-the-wall pastry shop before I hit the sack!  
After a great night's sleep we did a little more exploring of the city & stopped off at the fish market. But before we could leave we needed to find another pasty shop to bring goodies home with us! So at the recommendation of a local we found Attanasio just around the corner from Piazza Garibaldi. The shop was packed with hungry locals stopping for their sfogliatelle (pastry stuffed with sweet ricotta) before heading to work. We got in line and ordered one of everything, boxed it up with a pretty ribbon & with that we were back in the car heading home.


Just one night is all we needed to feel the pulse of Napoli pump through our veins!
Our friend Giorgi says that Napoli is a country in & of itself, I agree - a dirty, gritty & delicious place to visit!
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