These days Naples doesn’t have the greatest reputation. Images of the city often depict crumbling buildings, piles of rubbish on the streets and marauding Mafiosi on mopeds. Yet despite this the tourists just keep on coming, undeterred by negative press, outdated stereotypes and one or two hygienic issues. So just what is it about Naples that exerts such a pull on people from across the world? And why, in years gone by, did the well-worn phrase read “See Naples and Die?” Here is a look at what makes the city tick, how it stands out from the crowd, and the best ways for you to experience the de facto capital of Italy sizzling, hot-tempered south.
Reasons to Visit Naples
One of the main draws that Naples has is the amazing array of ancient remains in and around the city. A quick jaunt to Pompeii or Herculaneum takes one to some of the most startling Roman remains in Europe, with entire cities preserved in volcanic ash. Visitors can wander the straight streets of these ancient settlements, gaze over ancient mosaics, and most remarkably, see the bodies of those who perished in the volcanic eruption some two thousand years ago. Closer to town, the Piscina Mirabilis, a vast underground reservoir, dates from the time of the Roman Empire, and is one of the most impressive pieces of ancient infrastructure in Italy. With Naples being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, it is no wonder it has remains from so many different eras.
A Beautiful Bay
Perhaps the best way to experience Naples is to hire a bareboat yacht charter and head out on your own into Naples Bay. This is one of the most beautiful bays in the whole world, and the city itself spreads out alongside the calm waters of the bay. It is for this serene scene that figures in the past once said the immortal phrase “See Naples and Die”, implying that the city’s setting was so beautiful that, after witnessing it in person, one’s live was fulfilled. For a great afternoon out, pack a picnic full of Italian cheese, Parma Ham and a good bottle of local wine and eat out on deck half a mile or so out from the city, letting the distant sounds of Naples drift out to you as you wine and dine.
Naples also benefits from being surrounded by some of the most glorious landscapes in the world. A short drive or boat ride away from the city one can find stunning sights along the Amalfi Coast such as Capri, Positano and the Blue Grotto, while, just a short distance away, mighty Vesuvius rises dramatically out of the hills and towers over the city. On a clear day you can see the menacing smoke rising from the top of the huge Caldera. It is for all of these amazing sights that the area around Naples has become one of the top yacht charter destinations in the world, with the rich and famous flocking here to see and be seen during the summer months.
It is often said that Naples has the largest historic urban core on the planet, with over 4,200 acres of historic buildings protected by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. The narrow streets often block out most sunlight, and when wandering through the tight alleys and winding cobblestone lanes of this city you can almost imagine you have travelled back in time, were it not for the whirr of motorbike engines in the distance. Naples’ neoclassical architecture is also impressive, with grand boulevards, wide piazzas and a stately waterfront promenade counting amongst the most prestigious and picturesque on the continent.