We were blessed with the opportunity to visit Naples and Capri thanks to an invite from our dear friend Marco De Rosa. There was so much to remember from this wonderful trip, and we write this article to pay tribute to the people we met, best moments and memories we had.
Without a doubt the one thing that struck us most about Naples was the warmth and heart of its people. The culture of friendliness and hospitality was firmly entrenched in every Neapolitan we met, along with a deep-rooted sense of pride for the city and its history balanced with a candid recognition about the underlying challenges the city faces. Everyone we met also seemed genuinely interested in learning more about us and where we came from – particularly since one of us was from Singapore (which we gather is not very common in Naples!)
No one embodied the gracious and hospitable spirit of Naples more than our hosts, the De Rosas,Savino and Giovanna, their incredible warmth meant that we never really felt like guests in their house and unfortunately for them we are definitely considering visiting them again sometime soon!
The food, oh the food of Naples! From what could be the best pizza in the world at “da Michele” to delicious “aperitivo” snacks at the “baretti” and unforgettable home-cooked Neapolitan meals at the De Rosa’s, it was hard for us to say no to seconds during our trip. No meal prepared by the talented hands of Mrs. De Rosa was left unfinished. Conversely, for most meals we were sorely attempted to lick the plate clean – and learnt a new Italian phrase in the process “fare la scarpetta”.
Our days in Naples were spent leisurely wandering through the city, and below is a selection of some of the lovely sights we got to see:
SANTA CHIARA – this church was commissioned by Robert of Anjou in 1310. We were dazzled by the sight of the beautiful cloisters, decorated completely with majolica tiles in brilliant green, yellow and blue colours, enclosing gardens filled with tangerine trees.
- Capodimonte la Reggia
REGGIA DI CAPODIMONTE – build by Charles VII in 1738, the building is home to “Museo Nazionale di Capodimonte”, where we viewed priceless paintings from the 13th through 18th centuries including, amongst others, work by Michelangelo, Raphael, Botticelli, Caravaggio and imposing Roman sculptures.
- Galleria Umberto I with Christmas Tree
GALLERIA UMBERTO I – this impressive great glass-roofed arcade, perhaps the largest in the world, was also home to two massive Christmas trees adorned with holiday wishes when we visited. Most wishes desired the usual things – love, fortune, happiness and health, although we did come across 1 or 2 more unusual requests!
- Maschio Angioino
MASCHIO ANGIOINO – situated in “Piazza Municipio” where the Roman ruins next to this wonderful castle reminded us of the long, rich and varied history of Naples, its different historical periods that have left their own unique imprint on the city.
Fabulous VIA CHIAIA – where we were tempted to spend all of our money in this wonderful shopping street!
PULCINELLA – whilst walking the streets of Naples we saw a traditional Neapolitan Pulcinella performing a dance with a tambourine
Everyone we met in Naples had an incredible “Joie de vivre” and had an enviable ability to enjoy life to the full. Neapolitans also have immensely strong and loyal ties to family and friends. We met 3 generations of the De Rosa family all living under 1 roof and saw the warmth of such strong family ties and traditional family values played out first hand.
- Our wonderful hosts, the De Rosa family
We also experienced the large network of friends typical to most Neapolitans through our dear friend Marco de Rosa. After being introduced to such friends, we felt that we too had made lasting friendships and been warmly welcomed into the same network.
During our stay in Naples it was clear how important good food and wine are to all Neapolitans and more importantly, to share this with family and friends. We experienced the best Neapolitan food and wine, offered by our most gracious hosts, the De Rosas. We salivated from one traditional home cooked Neapolitan meal to the next and made sure our suitcases were full of “Greco di Tufo” and “mozzarella di bufala” on our return to London!!
But a description of Naples is incomplete without talking about the influence of the sea. Every Neapolitan has a natural affinity with the sea and yearns to be close to the water, as the city is. We saw many beautiful panaromas of the sea, with Mount Vesuvius in the background, making picture post-card views from every angle.
One of our most memorable evenings was spend in a traditional Neapolitan music hall, where we soaked up the infectious atmosphere by dancing on the tables as if we were Neapolitans ourselves.
The ultimate way however to understand Naples and its people is to experience it first-hand. If you have the good fortune to be introduced to the wonderful city and people by a local, you will always remember the legendary Neapolitan warmth, generosity, kindness and joie de vivre. It will be an unforgettable experience. But be warned, after one visit you will want to return again and again...!
Naples – we will be back soon!!