“See Naples and die” the proverb tells us – but who could not be touched by the magnificent bay of Naples, with the sea, islands and Vesuvius as its backdrop? Who could not be won over by the intense life of this city with its population of 4 million inhabitants, and by its historic town centre that has been named as a Unesco World Heritage site, adorned with stonewashed palaces and churches sporting large baroque pediments.
Despite having been Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Norman, Angevin and Aragonese, despite once being the capital of the Two Sicilies before being reintegrated into the Kingdom of Italy in 1871, and despite it now being the corrupt home of all sorts of mafia figures, Naples, first and foremost, remains Naples.
Swarming, seething and sensual, joyous and yet emotional, rich in colour and ever ready to relieve a careless soul of his money, and a place where deep-rooted culture meets with crude folly, this town of a thousand facets gives out an incredible Mediterranean flavour - one in which Neapolitans are truly the lords of the land, as they themselves are dominated by a humorous, sociable and even scathing fervour, whether it be about God, football, love or the superb local cuisine!
Hotels in Naples – Grand Hotels: filled with history and perfect for shopping.
The best atmosphere: Parker’s – A palace built by the English in 1870 offering a splendid view of the bay of Naples, neoclassical frescos and a thalasso centre.
The most luxurious: Grand Hotel Vesuvio – palace-style service, spacious rooms with antique furniture and a restaurant on the top floor overlooking the bay.
The best value for money: Grand Hotel Santa Lucia – a historic palace right next to the Grand Hotel Vesuvius, designed in a neoclassical style with spacious rooms.
Hotels in Naples – Design Boutique Hotels.
The most luxurious: Romeo – A glass building with ten floors that opened in 2009 offering a balnéo – an oasis of luxury and tranquillity in the chaotic heart of Naples.
The most “modern classic”: Hotel Palazzo Decumani – A former palace converted into a hotel which offers highly sleek décor.
The most pleasant : Constantinopli 104 – an Art Nouveau villa with a swimming pool and garden, right in the heart of the antique dealers’ district.
Hotels in Naples – Guest houses with character.
The most family-friendly: Week-end a Napoli - a family house in a beautiful district converted into a chic guest house by its owners.
The most cultural: Decumani Hotel de Charme - located in a wing of the wonderfully renovated palace of Cardinal Sisto Riario Sforza, the last archbishop of the kingdom of the Two Sicilies.
The most beautiful frescos: Le Stanze del Vicerè – frescos on the ceiling, paintings and other historical characteristics ennoble this former palace that has been partly turned into a hotel by its owners. It is located near to the Archaeological Museum.
- The chic area and the luxury stores are situated between the Castel dell’Ovo (a fortress that guarded entry to the city and that is today home to cultural exhibitions. Also of note are the nearby Via Santa Lucia and the Borgo Maritimo, which are typical of Neapolitan life) and Chiaia (made up of a long promenade lined with trees and bordered by the sea, as well as small and elegant streets with plenty of shops - streets such as the Via dei Mille and the Via Santa Teresa a Chiaia).
- The vitality and history of the town are clear to see in the Old Town Centre, whether walking along the “Spaccanapoli”, a long and partly pedestrianised road divided into seven “vias” which acts as a sort of open air museum with boutiques, churches, palaces and cafés, or whether losing yourself in the small, narrow streets that surround the area. To plunge right into the liveliest part of Naples try the “Quartieri Spagnoli”, which is further east and bordered by la Via Toledo – a crowded and notorious part of town, famed for its bad reputation.
- The Capodimonte area - which is much quieter - is found in the town’s working-class area, and it gives access to the magnificent National Museum and its park. Besides some beautiful palaces and the entrance to the catacombs, you will also find the working class areas where the middle to lower classes go about their daily lives, paying little attention to tourism.
- To get a bit of fresh air and tranquillity go to the residential area of Vomero, located on a hill served by funiculars. A less touristy area, it offers beautiful views over the city and a few museums.
- Finally we are left with the Piazza Garibaldi which is opposite the train station. An area of little interest perhaps, unless we’re talking about the more practical side of things: hotels here are cheaper than elsewhere and have good links to public transport. The Hotel Una, a hotel with beautiful design features, is a good deal in this respect.