Hi All, my other half and I just had a marvellous week in Naples, he picked it as the place to spend his 40th and it was great choice, so here's my review:
Flew to Naples from Stansted via Easyjet, smooth 2hr 10min flight arriving at 9.30am Naples time. Airport easy to get out of and if you head left and up past the McDonalds you reach an Alibus bus stop which gets you directly to Garibaldi Square in the centre in around 20mins.
We had some Thomas Cook points to use so had a free night at Hotel Garibaldi which was perfectly pleasant with a nice elegant room and a cracking balcony overlooking the street market below - would recommend this hotel happily.
We spent the remaining 6 nights staying in an apartment on San Gregorio Armeno in the centro storico - great flat owned by a lady named Emanuela with fully equipped kitchen, nice bathroom and comfy bed also there is a great balcony accessed via the big bedroom. The street below is what is known as the nativity street and is lined with warmly lit shops selling beautiful arts and crafts - i'd love to see it down there at Christmas! There was a convent straight opposite that was exquisitely beautiful inside and we often got to enjoy a glass of wine on the balcony listening to the Nun's singing.
WALKING AROUND NAPLES
You do get the odd bit of rubbish about but primarily it's a lot of likeable quaint streets - I loved all the fishmonger shops with the crazy array of fresh seafood outside and the fruit and veg shops.
The traffic takes some figuring out - basically to cross the roads you kind of have to just walk out and the traffic stops for you - otherwise you would be there all day! We watched and learnt from the locals :-)
Went in to Antica Da Michele for our first pizza on Italian soil - unbelievably good! Highly reccomend!
Explored the local area and had our evening meal at La Cantina Dei Mille which is close to Garibaldi Station - great food, I had a delicious steak with a side of chips and the OH had seafood pasta that had clams and muscles in that he enjoyed immensely. Reasonably priced too. Nice wine.
Moved into the flat today and explored Centro Storico with a pitstop for Rum Baba's and those puff pastry shell things with the vanilla ricotta filling :-)
Had pizza at Sorbillo's for our evening meal - OH had Daviola pizza and I had a cheesy one with lots of sweet yellow peppers on. Good stuff and cheap enough.
Went on the train to Sorrento, cheap rail tickets especially by UK standards, takes about an hour to get there I think, the train is packed for a while but does eventually thin out and you can get a seat. It's the Circumvesuviana line that terminates at Sorrento. Good views of Vesuvius on parts of the journey and the lovely coastline.
Liked Sorrento, it was very picturesque and peaceful. Ate lunch at L'Abate, which was not too badly priced for a good sized glass of decent wine each, Lasagne for me and Pizza for the OH, we were both really happy with the food and would eat there again.
Had a carafe of wine each down on the shore and looked at the stunning views.
Lots of shops in Sorrento and Kiosk Bar is a really good place to go and chill out with a nice cheap big bottle of beer.
Had evening meal at Cantina Dei Mille again on our return that night, Meat Ravioli for me and some pasta dish for the OH that I can't remember - again good food, was very strange as masses of the Napoli police force piled in "tooled up" to chill out with a pizza and beer :-)
We decided to have pizza at Di Matteo to fill up for the day before heading to vesuvius (great pizza again - I had one with smoked sausage on).
We jumped on the train for around 20mins I would guess to Ercolano station, the Vesivius Tour office is visible to your left as you leave the station. I think it was 10E each for the tour, the buses got full so us and another couple got whizzed up the mountain by an old guy in his Punto - it was certainly an experience as this fella over took all the buses on the crazy hair pin bends up to the top!!! The walk to the rim is definitely more than 15 mins unless you want to run flat out all the way to the top!! Very sobreing to peer in to the vast crevace and see the steam rising!
Once back down we followed the signs to walk to Herculaneum and wander arounf the abandoned town - it was an incredible sight to see and you can wander around for hours in there! The skeletons of those who thought the tunnels might protect them from the volcanic eruption are still visible.
That evening we eventually went out for yet another delicious pizza - I think it was the restaurant half of Di Matteo's anyway it was very good again - I had a Mais one which has cream, cheese, sweetcorn and smoked ham on it, i'd kill for one of those right now :-)
We explored the Chiara Riviera district of Naples and went up into the Castle - a very nice area of Naples and had some very nice ice cream! nicest ice cream we ever had actually :-) The Umberto shopping arcade is absolutely stunning!
We ate Antica Trattoria De Carmine, had to wait a short while for a table, I wasn't feeling too hungry so I had the meatballs which were pleasant enough, the other half had meatballs and I think a pasta dish which he wasn't overly enamoured with - it's quite a chaotic place and not particularly relaxing.
The weather having been hot and sunny all week til this point changed a little so we saw it as a good opportunity to do the Archeaological museum - plenty to see in there and some beautiful statues that are mind bogglingly old. We also did the subterranean tour, at first it was a farce because we think we were ripped off an extra 5 E for the tickets plus nobody asked us what language we spoke and sent us on an Italian tour that we had to abandon and ask for an english tour - not bad tour all in all though.
We ate lunch at Decumani - good pizzas and again cheap enough as most are in Centro Storico.
Evening meal was at Notte Naples, was a bit unsure what it would be like as we went because we got a flyer - it was very nice, great risotto starters and beautiful fresh cod!
Went to Capri - the ports are a pain in the backside because the maps said Port Beverello, the screens at Port Beverello showed the Carremar boat as leaving from there but after not getting any help from a snappy italian on one of the ticket desks who couldn't grasp any english from us whatsoever which you would think prudent given that he sells tickets to tourists, we found a ticket clerk that did speak english and they informed us the boat was leaving from a port 1km away so off we rushed and luckily found it. There are various boats that go to Capri, Carremar being the slower and cheaper of the boats (takes an hour) and even then it was nearly 70 Euro's for two return tickets!!
Capri had some stunning vistas but to be fair there ain't an awful lot there unless you want lots of silly expensive designer shops, we went up to the old town at 7E I think for two return funicular tickets and also took the bus from Marina Grande to Anacapri for a similar price - very hairy bus ride cramped on a bus that tears around hairpin bends on ahill with a steep drop down to the sea below so be aware of this as you are likely to be stood up on the bus hanging on.
Prices for basic souvenirs are ridiculous on Capri, didn't go in any places to have a drink and admire the view because the prices were daylight robbery. It is very telling that so many people were walking around eating sandwiches out of cling film!!
We bought beer and prosecco very cheap from a shop in the evening time and sat on the port at Marina Grande watching the sun beginning to set, we did actually get a nice burger and chips before the journey back from the place right where the Carremar docks - they also do great Lemoncello ice cream although it was 8E a pop! A small bottle of beer was 4E in here so better than most places.
DRINKING IN NAPLES
It's not easy to find chill out places to have a drink in Naples because you get royally stung for the priviledge and when you are there a week you don't want to £5 or £6 a pop for a small bottle of beer! The places to get a cheap drink are the few little shop bars where they have no seating area, it is like a kiosk with beer fridges and you can get a small bottle of beer for 1E to 1.50E, you have to stand up outside to drink it. The bar situation was the only disappointment we had with Naples.
Emanuela organised a taxi for us as we had to be picked up around 7am, easy trip to the airport and all seemed fine until it came the boarding gate bit. We sat down while many people (Italians seem impatient) stood for an eternity madly wanting to get through the boarding gate soon as it opened. All of a sudden more people began to surge down some stairs and rudely push in to the front of the queue. The lady at the boarding gate kept shouting "STANSTED ONLY, LIVERPOOL IS THE NEXT FLIGHT FROM THIS GATE" tons of people stayed in the queue to the point where it started to obstruct those of us needing the Stansted flight from boarding as we were all thinking we were waiting patiently behind others on the same flight only to find it was the Liverpool passengers refusing to move out of the queue and we could have ended up missing the flight! Us and others in the queue said they had never seen such a thing happen before!
Throughly enjoyed our trip to Italy and the other half's birthday trip up Vesuvius, we liked Naples a lot and would recommend it highly to anyone.