‘If you can’t explore one of the most spectacular coastlines in the world in a classic sports car, the next best way is on a bicycle: cycling up and down the hills of the Amalfi coast by day and bedding down on a boat each night.
In keeping with this less cosmopolitan option, I decided to skip the private jet and take the overnight train to Naples, from where I was to spend the next seven days cycling and sailing. It’s cheap, eco-friendly and a lot of fun…
Read more here in Ride the Amalfi Coast, written for the travel pages of Time Out magazine. The feature was based on a train trip down to Naples, where we cycled the roads by day and slept on a boat by night, taking in the Amalfi Coast, Procida and Ischia.
- San Francesco al Monte hotel
- Vitignoitalia wine festival
- O’ Core ‘e Napule restaurant
- Caffè Gambrinus
- Il Pizzaiolo del Presidente pizzeria
The following appears on SimonSeeks Travel Website where I am ‘Naples Expert’.
Everything you’ve heard about Naples is probably true: it’s as gritty, noisy and energetic as the animated people that live in it. There’s crime too, but I’ve never experienced anything more ‘criminal’ than a €5 taxi over-charge. Perhaps that’s just luck or perhaps it’s that, having lived in London all my life, I take the same precautions as I would in any big city (and a bit more around the port or the bus station). But scratch the surface a little and you’ll discover what an incredibly beautiful, vibrant, cultured, sexy city Naples really is…
Food and drink
You can eat everything from traditional dishes handed down over generations, to Michelin-starred innovation (Ernesto Iaccarino’s Don Alfonso, or Rossellini’s in Ravello’s Palazzo Avino, for instance); thanks to the combination of soil and climate, the produce is spectacularly good. And then there’s the chef’s insistence on the freshness of ingredients, so whether you’re eating seafood, fresh pasta with olive oil and tomatoes, chunks of buffalo mozzarella, or drinking wine from the region, you’ll know that you’re tasting the finest that nature has to offer.
Art and culture
Few cities can boast the richness of Naples’ culture, it’s everywhere; in the architecture of the buildings, within the churches, and of course the galleries, museums and even the hotels (the Romeo has some wonderful pieces in its public areas). And what other city can boast the quite unique archaeological sites of Pompeii and Paestum?
It may not be Milan, but there are plenty of designer shops in Naples, as well as some lovely boutiques, a thriving accessories scene (handmade silk ties, hand-stitched luggage), and even an enormous outlet close to Caserta (if you fancy a day trip). But, for me, Naples’ real selling point is the craft shops that populate the streets. You’ll find men repairing altar pieces, hand-stitching covers for sofas, or crafting the presepi (nativity scenes) that are so popular throughout the year (but especially at Christmas).
Let’s get lost
And speaking of walking, don’t underestimate the pleasure of simply wandering the city… little alleys off the main drag can reap great rewards. Chiaia has particularly rich pickings as artisans work cheek-by-jowl with stylish desigers, while Spaccanapoli, the street that literally ‘splits’ Naples (it runs from Piazza Gesù Nuovo all the way east along Via Benedetto Croce, Via San Biagio del Librai and Via Vicaria Vecchia until it comes to a stop a short way before Piazza Garibaldi) has more churches along and just off it than probably any other street in Naples. And I haven’t even mentioned Vesuvius… the brooding, still active, volcano that provides a backdrop to many of the iconic paintings or photos of the city that you’ve ever seen. Spend half a day walking up the slopes and peer into the interior. But don’t get too close… some vulcanologists believe that an eruption is overdue.
Sun, sand, sea…
One of the most fabulous things about being in Naples, is not being in Naples. Sit on the dock of the bay and plan day trips or even a few days at a time at a handful of wonderful destinations, such as the islands of Capri, Ischia or Procida, or along the Amalfi Coast, or to Sorrento. All offer opportunities for swimming, walking, shopping, eating fine foods or, especially on Ischia or Capri, a luxurious spa treatment. Or what about heading north to Vanvitelli’s spectacular palace in Caserta, easily rivalling Versailles.
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