Naples, Italy: a Castle, a Volcano & a PIZZZZA!
I’m going to be blunt.
Naples is not my favorite city in Europe. It’s not terrible, but it’s not like the other large Italian cities (Rome, Florence, Milan) with dreamy, romantic, streets and jaw-dropping architecture. A high unemployment rate, decade long waste management (i.e. trash collection) issues and the presence of organized crime networks all lend a hand in painting my perception of the city.
But we don’t travel just to see the pretty, right? We travel to see, feel and TASTE. It’s all about the experience. You saw ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ so you know where I’m going with this. In Naples I had an absolutely, positively, fantastic pizza. Not just a slice, an entire pizza. I broke my wedding anti-diet and crushed it in the way I’d seen Dan crush Domino’s so many times in the past.
[Side story: One of Dan’s saddest mornings was when we woke up on the couch with 15 missed calls from the Domino’s pizza delivery guy. Before falling asleep though he’d even sent the Domino’s team multiple ‘words of encouragement’.Not only did he not get pizza he had essentially blackballed himself. Shame. ]
The evening started on the Naples waterfront, Mergellina, seated on the HUGE Golfo di Napoli (bay). Far in the distance lies the Almalfi Coast (I especially love Sorrento and the most beautiful place in Europe – Positano).
The waterfront street is closed to motor traffic in the evening and delightfully lined with restaurants and shops. As we strolled, the impressive Mount Vesuvius peaked it’s way into view. THE Mount Vesuvius, as in the one that erupted in 79 AD and preserved the village of Pompeii in ash until 1748 when excavations began.
Just off shore sits the seaside castle of Castel dell’Ovo, or Ovo Castle, connected by a narrow peninsula. Tucked between the castle and shore is a small, charming, marina. A cluster of cozy restaurants hug the castle.
(I grew up in a sailing family so bear with me as this marina photo shoot continues. I find boats to be incredibly beautiful and don’t have it in me right now to delete any of these photos.)
We ducked into a restaurant just outside the castle walls for Bellini’s, a popular local drink consisting of a mix of prosecco (or champagne) and peach puree. Mmm… (remember that ‘taste’ thing I mentioned?)
After our Bellini’s were drained and the sun had set it was nearly 9PM, which is dinner time in Italy. We headed back to the boardwalk to find some food. By food I mean PIZZA, make note, we had a serious agenda for the evening.
But first, a few more shots of the marina and Vesuvius…
^ I really love this shot. I love the balance, lighting, and of course the boats. 🙂
One of the first restaurants we came across, Magno Ristorante, was completely packed which is always a great sign. Instead of deliberating over TripAdvisor reviews and Rick Steve’s we grabbed a table and settled in. Frankly, I wish I practiced this low-stress restaurant decision making process more often and I’m sure Dan would agree. But heck, we were in the birthplace of pizza, we knew it would be great.
I went with rocket and prosciutto pizza. It was WONDERFUL! I. ate. it. up. Every last morsel. It was served warm, light on the sauce, an enchanting crusty-crust (technical) and the fresssshest of toppings.
After my caloric binge, a classical guitarist found his way to our table as my colleague prompted him to play for me. I was in a thick, glutinous haze. It was all a dream, so much so that I could have fallen asleep right there at the table (granted, at this point it was 11PM).
More than likely you’ll fly into Naples when you visit the Almalfi Coast (because you MUST visit Positano). Before heading out, make time for a pit stop in city center for pizza (coffee too!) and a dose of a real Italian city. It’ll be a true, authentic, taste of Italy in every sense of the word.
When’s the last time you had a phenomenal local dish?