Naples, Italy, is the place that puts the “Neapolitan” in Neapolitan pizza.
Appreciating the taste of Naples is easy with a certified Neapolitan pie like the ones you find at Vero Amore, but learning more about this rich and under-explored Italian city will make you dream of a vacation with every bite.
Here are nine things about Naples that should get your mouth watering.
1. Metropolis on the Mediterranean
Italy’s third-largest city, Naples is the capitol of Campania. Around 4 million people live in Naples’ metropolitan area, and more than 5 million people call Campania home. As such, Campania is the most densely populated region in Italy. This southern region is the second-most populous in the entire country, just behind the northern region of Lombardy.
2. Center for Art and History
Naples is also one of Italy’s oldest still-intact cities. The historic city center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the city limits are chock-full of archaeology and art museums, palaces, castles, sculptures, and frescoed buildings.
3. Archaeological Hotbed
Naples sits in the shadow of Italy’s famous volcano, Mount Vesuvius. Outside of Naples, historic sites like the ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum are just a short journey away.
4. Greek Heritage
The Italian name for Naples is Napoli (which leads to Pizza Napoletana, or Neapolitan pizza!). But the provenance of the name is actually Greek—from the Greek word Neapolis, or new city.
5. Culinary Capitol
Naples is Italy’s premier foodie destination. Drawing on its location between the sea and the countryside, Naples’ restaurateurs get to pick from their region’s best ingredients as they build their menus. Located along Italy’s Amalfi Coast, the city is famous for seafood and sweets, but even more so for its coffee, pasta, and pizza.
6. Home of ‘Italian Cuisine’
What do most Americans think of when they think about Italian food? Usually pizza and pasta (especially spaghetti). Pizza originated in Naples, and Neapolitans take the dish very seriously. That’s just one reason why the Italian government chose to certify Neapolitan pizza as a cultural product. Another popular Italian dish among Americans is eggplant parmesan, which also comes from Naples. And although spaghetti was not invented in Naples, it was popularized there. Neapolitan spaghetti is usually served with clams or mussels.
7. Hotspot for Coffee
Naples is known for its caffè. In fact, most Italian coffee ads are set in Naples or have a distinctly Neapolitan ambiance. There are three ways to get coffee in Naples, and all of them are served in an espresso cup. The first is your traditional espresso (caffè espresso), brewed by forcing boiling water through tightly packed coffee grounds. This is the coffee you typically get in the neighborhood bar. The second method is moka, which is coffee brewed in an aluminum moka pot. This coffee is served in one’s home. Finally, there is caffè alla napoletana, which is a rare, but typically Neapolitan brew. It is made in a Neapolitan pot, which was the predecessor of the moka pot.
The three recognized ways of brewing coffee in Naples signify the local appreciation for how things are made, both in terms of technique and the quality of tools and ingredients.
8. Uncommon Wine Varietals
As the main hub of Campania, which is one of Italy’s 20 wine regions, Neapolitans have access to all of the region’s wines. The local drink is short on common varietals such as merlot, syrah, and chardonnay. Instead, Campania’s wine varietals are the reds aglianico, piedirosso, and sciascinoso, and the whites fiano, falanghina, and Greco.
9. Quiet in Tourist Season
When hot destinations such as Rome and Venice are drowning in tourists, Naples and much of southern Italy are quiet. The islands Capri, Ischia, Procida, and Sardinia are all also easily reachable by the local ferry system that has its base in Naples—and these Mediterranean oases are also not teeming with visitors during the high season. Since the crowds don’t congregate down south, visitors in search of a quiet retreat on the Italian coast can find that, as well as culture, good food, and welcoming cafes in Naples.