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La dolce vita credit crunch style (3 nights)



First impressions

When I asked an Italian friend about whether visiting Naples would be a good idea for a long weekend she wrote back:  “Naples can be beautiful, but also difficult. It’s a place to discover.  Either you love it or you hate it. To take the best of it, you have to let yourself be taken by the wave of the place.”  This was a far more diplomatic response that some of my colleagues, who warned I would be dropping myself into a hotbed of crime and rotting garbage.  Yes Naples is utterly chaotic, and yes there is garbage on the street, although certainly not sky high, however the place exudes a decrepit / romantic / utterly chaotic charm not to mention authenticity that’s hard to replicate in more tourist filled Italian cities.   The people watching is superb–a continuous Fellini film, and the street food is tasty and cheap.

Naples

  1. Stay: Check into Costantinopoli104, a converted palace in the old town within walking distance of the Archaeology Museum.
    http://www.costantinopoli104.com/
  2. Aperitvo: for an aperol spritz visit Wilde’s and Hemingway’s old haunt Gran Caffe’ Gambrinus.  The bar snacks will cover lunch for 2. (Via Chiaia, 1)
  3. Eat: Ristorante da Dora: old school fish restaurant.  Share the fried fish platter and spaghetti vongole.  Order a bottle of house Falanghina wine, a local specialty. (Via Ferdinando Palasciano, 28, tel. +39 081 680519)
  4. Pizza: Skip Pizzailo del Presidente, despite what the guidebook’s say.  Yes Bill Clinton ate here, but with pizzerias on every street, and regulated ingredients for a margherita, this place isn’t worth the hour+ long wait.  The only saving grace is the extra-ordinary people watching, and sheer chaos of locals ordering their takeaway, and the intricate VIP system of who gets to pick up their pie first.  One Italian mamma in a skin tight XXXL Molly Cyrus t-shirt wedged herself at the entrance, regulating the traffic flow to ensure she wouldn’t miss her place on the non-existent queue.  Once inside, the place had no red wine, and when I asked for a green salad, a household staple in the Western World, the only option was pork sashimi on a bed of rocket.  It wasn’t even possible to cut through with a knife.  If you really want to queue for famous pizza instead try Sorbillio (down the street) but get there early before the crowds.  If you’ve got to wait, at least Sorbillio is next door to a bar, and it seems to attract a more refined, Euro-trashy crowd as opposed to Pizzailo del Presidente,  which was a magnate for the long lost cousins of the Jersey Shore .  Or skip the wait all together for pizza, and just have it delivered to the roof of your hotel!   The ambiance will be more charming anyway! (via Tribunali, 32 tel. +39081.446643)
    http://www.sorbillo.it/
  5. Shop: Pistachio corduroy trousers?  Check out Rubinacci (Via dei Mille, 16, tel. +39 081 413048)
    http://www.marianorubinacci.net/index.php
  6. Interior decorating inspiration: visit the Archaeology Museum to see the best interiors stripped of Pompeii and Herculaneum including frescos, mosaics, bronzes, and the infamous secret sex cabinet–now filled with skanky cruise ship tourists (Piazza Museo Nazionale, 19)
    http://museoarcheologiconazionale.campaniabeniculturali.it/
  7. Steal a painting: Capodimonte Museum, former Bourbon Palace, which houses a blockbuster collection of Titians, Caravaggios, Riberas etc plus OTT royal apartments (don’t miss the Oriental Room)
    http://en.napoli.waf.it/museo_dett/27-state-museums/718-capodimonte-museum.html
  8. Churches and crypts: these abound.  Take your pick but many are closed on Sunday.  Disappointing is all the graffiti defacing them.  Who does this?!

Day tips

  1. Ancient ruins of Pompeii.  Offers the rarity of seeing a Roman city with buildings still upright, and wall decorations still in place.  Easily accessible on the Circumvesuviana Napoli-Sorrento trainline in under an hour.
  2. La Dolce Vita: skip Sorrento (filled with geriatric tourists and Sopranos brides) and head straight for Capri.  From the ferry take the funicular up to Capri for lunch at Casa Morgano with it’s sunning views of the bay.  If you’ve had too much vino check in for a siesta for the ultimate splurge.  This hotel will save your marriage.
    http://www.casamorgano.com/

    Or walk off your wine by taking the Tiberius loop or Il Arco Naturale trail along Via Tragara past Casa Morgano and Hotel Punta Trafara for stunning views of the cliffs (about an hour walk).   If you still have time, visit Villa San Michele on the more rustic side of Anacapri, the home of the notable 19th century celebrity plastic surgeon Doctor Axel Munthe.
    http://www.villasanmichele.eu/

Reading

  1. The Road to San Michele, by Axel Munthe–autobiography of the celebrity doctor and how he came to acquire his Tiberian villa in Anacapri

Watch

  1. It started in Naples, 1960 classic with Sofia Loren and Clark Gable


The BEST holidays

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