September 17, 2012

Tales from a Traveller: Naples - The land of Margherita pizza

My first stop on a week long journey through the land of Fiat and fettuccine was Naples, a chaotic yet spectacular city which sprawls noisily around the Bay of Naples on the Mediterranean coast. Once dominating the Mezzogiorno (the land of the midday sun) as southern Italy is so fondly known, Naples’ history is of a dirty, port city with seedy undercurrents fuelled by high unemployment, poverty and crime. Despite this reputation, I found Naples to be a wonderful city - full of vibrant colour and life and absolutely delicious food.

I was taken into her embrace as soon as I arrived - en route to my B&B my taxi driver, Diego, stopped at a little cafĂ© in the port for ‘the best espresso in the city’ and it certainly lived up to its name!  As we stood at the bar, sipping the scalding black liquid, I knew I had arrived. 

I had booked into the B&B Alloggia Maria in the heart of the Centro Historico. On arriving, I found it to be simple, yet comfortable and tucked away in one of the many cobbled side streets, a perfect position from which to explore the city. After settling in, I found a tiny trattoria just around the corner from my hotel and tucked in to what has to be the best pizza I have ever eaten.

Famous for its pizza and the well-known tomato-based pasta Napolitano sauce, Naples teems with good places to eat if you know where to look. Laying claim to inventing the classic Margherita pizza in 1889 to honour a visit by Queen Margherita (the red tomatoes, white mozzarella and green basil representing the colours of the then-new Italian flag), Pizzeria Brandi is a must for great Margherita pizza and a decent vino rosso.

The next day was spent exploring the city, wandering lazily through her myriad of tiny cobbled streets taking in the sights and sounds which make this ebullient metropolis tick. Although the centre of Naples is fairly compact, with the churches, convents and monasteries all situated around a few streets, stopping along the way for a cappuccino here and a Sfogliatella there - a delicacy of paper thin layers of pastry oozing with butter, sugar, cinnamon, orange peel and ricotta cheese - took the best part of a day. Must-sees are The Santa Domenica Maggiore, a Gothic church containing some of the finest Renaissance monuments and sculpture in Naples; the Museo Archeologico Nazionale, which houses one of the world’s greatest archaeological collections and the Quartiere Spagnoli (the Spanish Quarter), one of the city’s most densely populated areas. It is here that the archetypal Neopolitan scene comes to life, with brightly coloured laundry hanging out to dry high above the streets and crowding out the sun.

Missed Mia’s previous blog posts about her travels in Italy? See her stunning photos from Rome and Pompeii.

Born a free spirit with a passion for adventure, Mia has travelled all over the world from Croatia to the Caribbean, documenting her experiences along the way. From freediving with sea lion pups to sailing the Aegean Sea, she is always looking for the next adventure.
Follow Mia's travels on her blog Tales from Abroad


Post a Comment