Where: Naples, Italy
When: May 2019
Hotel: Hotel & Spa Bellavista Francischiello (Massa Lubrense, Italy)
Why Naples: At the top of my European Bucket List was visiting the Amalfi Coast, but flights and prices never worked out. (I honestly don’t know what I am going to do when I can’t buy flights to Italy for $40 anymore). RyanAir added a route from Stuttgart to Naples early in 2019, and the price and time was right to head that way for Memorial Day weekend 2019.
The Trip: I knew when planning our trip that I wanted to see Naples and I wanted to see the Amalfi Coast, which meant I had to get a little creative about where we stayed. I didn’t want to stay in Naples, and I didn’t want to stay in one of the towns on the Amalfi Coast based solely off the distance between the two. So, I split the difference and picked a hotel with gorgeous views of the island of Capri. It was just outside of Sorrento and about an hour to Naples, and an hour to Positano. Perfect.
Next was figuring out how to get to the hotel, which was not in a big city easily reached by public transportation (the trade-off for the fantastic views!). Instead, I reserved a private car to take us to/from the airport, which was especially important because we were getting in late the first night. The trains stopped running around the time we landed and the bus trip would have taken about 2 hours. No thanks.
Our first full day was planned for Naples. I’d heard mixed reviews about Naples – that it was dirty and busy and just overall not worth the trip. However, as our traveling has changed and evolved, I’ve found I like the less touristy places more. I find those places to be authentic and unapologetically real. So, we were going to forgo the overcrowded Pompei for Naples. I’ve never been to Pompei, but I’m quite certain we made the right choice.
To get from our hotel to Sorrento, we has about a 15-minute bus ride, and then from there, it was about a 45-minute ferry ride to Naples. The ferry ride alone was worth it. The coastline was absolutely beautiful and made me so excited for the next day, when we were going to spend the day on the Amalfi Coast (more on that in another blog).
It was an easy walk from the ferry to the food tour meeting place, which was in the middle of the main pedestrian shopping street. On the way, we had time to wander through Galleria Umberto, the beautiful glass enclosed shopping center.
The tour I booked was Naples Pizza and More through Do Eat Better experience, and I don’t know if it was because it was the tail-end of the off-season or because Naples just isn’t the main tourist destination in the area, but the small-group tour ended up being a private one for John and me.
We swung by a bakery called Leopoldi briefly to pick up a bag of Tarallis, which are an Italian snack popular in Southwestern Italy. With a bag in hand, we moved on to Antica Pizza Fritta da Zia Esterina Sorbillo for a Fried Pizza. This is when I knew this was going to be a good food tour – Antica is the top rated spot on TripAdvisor for take-out food. Normally on food tours, they take you to good restaurants but not necessarily the most popular ones. And you also get sample sizes for each stop. However, this tour started with both John and I getting one of these gigantic fried pizzas to ourselves, and by the time we got ours, there was a line out the door. It was going to be a good, filling day. 🙂
The nice part about this tour as well, was because of the portion sizes, there was plenty of walking in between the stops to make some room in our stomachs. It also was a way to showcase the best of Naples – which I found to be charming and not underwhelming as I originally expected.
Our next stop was Umberto, and the one I was excited for the most because we were going to eat Neapolitan pizza in Naples – the birthplace of pizza! (Bucket list item – checked!) We tried the two traditional ones – the Margarita and the Marinara – and agreed the Margarita was the better of the two! We couldn’t eat all of it, but the restaurant was nice enough to let us take it away for later!
We took a walk along the coast and through the largest square in Naples until we arrived at the famed Caffè Gambrinus for an espresso. I normally can’t just drink a shot of espresso but this was delicious (and drank while standing at the bar, because that’s what you do in Italy!) The desserts in the cafe looked amazing, but we were stuffed and our next stop was dessert, so we passed (saying we would back to take some to go later…but later, we were in a good coma!)
Our final stop was Pasticceria Poppella (rated #2 of 84 bakeries in Naples) for “snowflakes” which were basically creme-filled donuts. They were super yummy and a great way to end the tour.
Happily full after a great tour (I would recommend Do Eat Better tours to anyone!), we made our way back to the ferry. The afternoon plan was to explore a bit of Sorrento, but we were tired and ready to relax in our hotel with our pretty views.
The Trip: Starting the trip in Naples was an excellent choice and was super fun! I highly recommend giving Naples a chance instead of bypassing it for some of the surrounding areas. It’s charming and definitely worth a look!