All in Naples Travel

A Practical Guide to the Amalfi Coast and Beyond

Most of the visitors to our little region of Italy, technically referred to as the Region of Campania, blow through Naples on their way to the Amalfi Coast.  The Region of Campania actually consists of five provinces Naples, Salerno, Avellino, Caserta and Benevento.  The Amalfi Coast is in the Province of Salerno.  The Gulf of Sorrento and Capri are in the Province of Naples.  It is important to remember that culturally, historically, geographically and even linguistically and culinarily the Amalfi Coast and the Gulf of Sorrento are two distinct regions.  Many like to think of Sorrento as the gateway to the Amalfi Coast.  Fair enough, it is certainly a convenient and less expensive place to stay and use as a home base when exploring the towns of the Amalfi Coast. 

Top Ten Trattorias of Naples

Trattoria, osteria, ristorante….. where to start?  And more importantly what is the difference?  A trattoria, like an osteria, serves simple, rustic food.  Unlike a ristorante, a trattoria features a limited menu, often scrawled on a chalkboard or haphazardly scribbled on A4 paper and photocopied. But thoughtless, trattorias are not.  These are establishments of cucina povera and if you hope to eat like a local while in Italy and do not happen to have an Italian nonna, then this where you want to spend you feeding time.  Naples particularly has some of the best trattorias of Italy.  Waves of tourism that have radically changed the restaurant industry in the rest of Italy (and not in a good way), have left Naples relatively untouched (for now).  It is still possible to sit at a communal table, eat a hearty plate of pasta and enjoy a carafe of local wine for 10 euros.  Below are Sauced & Found’s favorite trattorias in Bella Napoli. Some of these places have weird hours so always check hours first!

The Foods of Ferrante

The international press has been obsessed with Elena Ferrante in ways the local Neapolitan press never have been. Some people think they have unveiled her true identity.  Some people think she is a man.  Many people love the books.  Most Neapolitans have either never read them or vehemently despise them.  The reason for this is varied- just as the town of Naples is varied- something that gets lost in the books themselves.  Neapolitans almost unanimously agree that Ferrante writes like someone who has left Naples- particularly the brutal post-war periphery of Naples that was as chauvinist as it was bleak.  There is no subtlety or dimension to this portrait of Naples.  It is simply a place of violence that one must silently endure or boldly escape.

The Advent in Naples

Italy is ostensibly Catholic.  We check liturgical calendars before leaving the house to determine what saint day it is and whether we need to wish a friend a congratulatory ‘auguri’ on any given day. Everyday is someone’s saint day after all, and some people even get to have more than one. Each day has a saint and each saint has a sweet.  And while one can quibble as to how devout your average Italian is, the Advent season is without a doubt nationally celebrated occasion.  But what is the Advent and what does it mean to the everyday Italian?

Five Christmas Traditions in Naples

 The holiday season is a magical time in Southern Italy.  Confectionaries and nativity scenes beseech even the grinches among us to join in all the merriment.  At the very least we don’t have to listen to Grandma Got Ran Over By a Reindeer and Feliz Navidad no less than 2,000 times until the Rose Bowl.  Although in Italy you can also expect to here John Lennon belting And So Merry Christmas in the middle of July.  In honor of the holiday season, below are five indispensible Neapolitan Christmas traditions. If you can’t make it here for Christmas, you can think of us as you enjoy another slog of Eggnog-which by the way- try explaining that one to the average Neapolitan!

Top Five Gelaterias in Napoli

 

While the sfogliatella pastry and pastiera pie may be the undisputed kings of Neapolitan dolce, gelato will always remaining an admirable favorite.  With warm weather still going strong as we launch into fall, the gelato shops of Napoli remain humming with activity.  And what better way to spend a Neapolitan Sunday afternoon than with a constitutional stroll with a constitutional cone in hand.  Below are Sauced & Found’s selections for the top five gelaterias in Napoli. 

Top Ten Pizzerias in Naples

Let’s get one thing straight ragazzi- pizza is just one of the MANY iconic dishes that Naples offers. Still no trip to Bella Napoli is complete without it.  The original Neapolitan pizzas are the simple Marinara of San Marzano tomato sauce, oregano and garlic or the Margherita of tomato sauce, mozzarella or fiori di latte cheese and basil.  The secret to enjoying a good pizza is to keep it simple.  And for the love of God, don’t drive the pizzaioli of Naples crazy by trying to customize your f*cking order.  Order what is one the menu and basta!

Top Ten Cafés in Naples

You have to try hard not to drink good coffee in Naples.  Every neighborhood bar is a window into the vivacity of that sliver of Neapolitan territory.  The first thing I do every morning after rolling out of bed and making myself look generally presentable (locals might argue that lululemon pants and crocs do not qualify as presentable Napoli- and who am I to quibble) is head to the bar across the street from my house.  I go for the company. The invasive inquiries into my personal life. The exchange of hyper local recipes and even more hyper local gossip.  This is the bar where I start my day.  Twelve hours later, I will also end my day here with a spritz or a gingerino and a complex discussion of what was for lunch and what will be for dinner and how I will spend my Easter and whether I will make or buy my pastiera. It may only be February, and yet this is the idle chatter heard in Neapolitan bars everyday across the city.  To know Napoli is to know her bars.  Below are the most iconic. 

New Years in Naples and the Amalfi Coast

There are some things you should know before spending New Years Eve in Naples or the Amalfi Coast.  First, Neapolitans like to throw things--- lots of breakable things. When the clock strikes midnight toilets, teacups and everything in between are ritualistically thrown out of windows into heaps and heaps of shattered glass, porcelain and general flying shrapnel.  Second, on New Years Eve we wear red underpants.  And third, be prepared for a wild ride because in a town where breaking champagne magnums and then sporting red lingerie is par for the course, anything—AND I MEAN ANYTHING can happen.  The Amalfi Coast is only slightly tamer than Naples.  But it is still raucous, rollicking and fabulous in ways only the South of Italy can be at party times.  For your reading leisure (and preparation), I have listed the top five New Years traditions in Naples and the Amalfi Coast below. 

Five Essential Walks in Naples

Every walk in Napoli is new. There are religious curios encrusted into old tuffo walls, charismatic shrines to the football star Maradona and a lot of wildly indecent graffiti.  Today for example, I noticed this sloppily spray painted inspirational quote on the back of Federico II’s Political Science Faculty “Don’t let a perfectly good day ruin your life of shit!”  Thanks Napoli. I won’t!

Walking in Napoli requires a sense of curiosity and humor.  Turn off your phone.  Forget about Google Maps. Stroll, smell a simmering tomato sauce, listen to children screaming at their nonnas that they don’t want pasta and beans for lunch…. All in day’s walk.