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PIANOPRIMO
A short guide for exploring Naples on a Sunday
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Estimated reading time
5 Minutes

A short guide for exploring Naples on a Sunday

Napule è mille culure
Napule è mille paure
Napule è a voce de’ criature
che saglie chianu chianu e
tu sai ca nun si sulo.

As Pino Daniele used to sing about Naples. Today, it'll be me telling you about Naples.

Morning: cornetto and promenade

If you're thinking of getting up early to enjoy the city, don’t expect to find many people around, especially on Sunday mornings. Neapolitans prefer to take things easy, and there’s no getting away from that.

The newsagent and the baker will wave as you pass by and you look around feeling lost. Neapolitans are friendly and they’re incredibly hospitable.

I'm sorry, what's the time? Ma pecché, che tieni 'a fa'?… (lit. Why, what do you have to do?)

Head towards Mergellina for breakfast and sit down in a Chalet beside the promenade: Ciro is undoubtedly the best. Enjoy the magnificent view of the gulf looking out towards Vesuvius, while you’re eating a warm cornetto – but remember, don’t ask for a brioche – and a nice cup of coffee.

It'll be like admiring a painting.

No matter which season you choose to visit Naples, there will always be some brave soul swimming in the sea. In fact, many Neapolitans support the theory that you live longer if you swim every day. Can it be true?

Get up and take a stroll along the promenade, via Caracciolo and then via Partenope. The city begins to come to life. You’ll see Castel dell’Ovo at the end of the long promenade, you’ve got to climb up there. The view from the Cannons terrace, the highest point, is absolutely priceless.

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Lunch: underground Napoli, pizza and fish-fry

Leave the promenade behind you and proceed towards the centre of town. In a moment you’ll find yourself in Piazza del Plebiscito, one of the most famous squares in Naples, with the Palazzo Reale facing onto it.

One of the sightseeing routes for underground Naples starts precisely here. Not everybody knows this, but there’s another city underneath the Neapolitan capital, where the Neapolitans used to take cover during the bombings in the Second World War.

It’s time for lunch, and if you visit Naples, you'd better forget about dieting. Go to Sorbillo or Mattozzi and order a nice pizza Margherita; if you want to do everything by the book you should also start with a fish-fry. You won’t regret it.

Afternoon: shopping and nativity scenes

Get lost in the main shopping thoroughfares: via Chiaia, via Filangeri, via dei Mille. A plethora of boutiques and high-class shops where the well-to-do Neapolitans go for their Sunday stroll. If you’ve still some room left, stop by Cimmino and order a sfogliatella, the curly one is the best.

Carry on walking down the alleyways until you get to Via San Gregorio Armeno, famous for its nativity scene makers, the most characteristic and evocative street of the whole city of Naples. Throughout the whole year, a multitude of vibrant little shops, workshops and stalls enthral the passers-by with the spirit of this road and brighten them up with Christmas cheer.

In Naples, there are proper dynasties of pastorai (nativity scene makers) who throughout the centuries have handed down the secrets of this extraordinary craftsmanship tradition and are busy all year round making shepherds and miniatures in painted terracotta.

Stop in one of these little shops and buy a red horn-shaped good-luck charm, because like a real Neapolitan would say: Pìgliate 'o (mumento) buono quanno vene, ca 'o malamente nun manca maje (lit. You’ve got to seize the good moments in life, because there are always plenty of bad ones).

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A romantic dinner with a sea-view

Perched up in the Posillipo neighbourhood of Naples, Marechiaro is a small fisherman’s hamlet teetering on the edge of a cliff. It still has a unique feel with sea-view restaurants, piles of nets and old wooden boats. There’s a tiny road that starts in via Posillipo and goes down between villas and what remains of the Posillipo vineyards, which used to produce a delicious wine from the time of the Romans.

If you take the steps leading down to the sea, you’ll find the Cicciotto restaurant on your right. Sit down, order a bottle of white wine, a plate of fish-fry and enjoy the view: the moon casts its reflection into the sea, the phlegrean city lights illuminate the gulf.

A little further on, you can enjoy the famous Fenestrella a’ Marechiaro. The story goes that the Neapolitan poet and writer Salvatore di Giacomo, catching a glimpse of a tiny window with a carnation on its sill, was inspired to write what would become one of the most famous Neapolitan songs of all time: Marechiare.

The window is still there today, and there’s always a fresh carnation on its sill.

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