Crowded, chaotic, exuberant and ridiculously picturesque, Naples is one of Italy’s most enticing cities. Overlooking a huge bay, with the unmistakable peak of Mount Vesuvius providing a theatrical backdrop, it’s a city of art and culture, pizza and poetry. Perfect for a city break! You won’t miss any of the highlights of this charmingly anarchic city with our unmissable local guide to 48 hours in Naples!
Day one: morning
Order a sfogliatella (a local pastry) and coffee at one of the atmospheric cafés on the Piazza Gesù Nuovo. This square is the start of the famous Spaccanapoli street which cuts through the city’s centro storico (historic centre). Amble down the street, admiring the spectacular churches and old-fashioned shops and restaurants until you reach the splendid 14th-century cathedral (duomo). Among its many treasures are two vials containing, according to legend, blood of the city’s patron saint, San Gennaro. These are brought out twice a year: if the blood fails to liquefy, locals believe disaster will befall the city. Head for lunch at one of the area’s famous pizzerias: Naples is, after all, the birthplace of pizza!
Day one: afternoon
Get a bird’s-eye-view of the city, by taking the funicular from Augusteo up to the elegant Vomere neighbourhood. Signs will point you to the immense, star-shaped Castell Sant Elmo: while there isn’t a great deal to see inside, the highlight is a stroll around the walls, which offer an unforgettable panorama of the city, with Vesuvius in the background. In the evening, check out the chic bars and restaurants of the stylish Chiaia neighbourhood.
Day two: morning
Take the convenient and inexpensive train out to Pompeii to feast your eyes on some of the best-preserved ancient Roman ruins in Italy. When Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD, it buried most of the city under several feet of ash, preserving its temples, roads, homes and artworks for centuries. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this haunting site provides a fascinating insight into life in a Roman town two thousand years ago.
Day two: afternoon
Back in Naples, you can take a refreshing stroll along the elegant Lungomare, a 2-mile-long seafront promenade. Explore the lovely city park, the Villa Communale, and admire the spectacular views of the city and Mount Vesuvius from the top of the Castel dell’Ovo (‘Egg Castle’). This castle guards the port, and once stood on a little island (now joined to the shore). There are lots of wonderful places for an evening drink here as the sun sets.