Naples was founded by the Greeks in 600 BC and. Its original name, "Neapolis" means "New City" in Greek. After the Greeks went back to Greece, the new city became a favored resort of Roman Emperors.
Naples is now the third largest city in Italy. It is also the third most densely populated city in Europe. While the first time visitor would never guess this during the quiet "siesta" period of the day which lasts several hours, the crowds show themselves in the mornings and the evenings as they drive their cars and Vespas like maniacs around the crowded , often narrow, streets and alleys of Naples.
Naples, like all of Italy, is the home of numerous public squares, or "piazzas," often adorned with statutes of saints, revered leaders, or other notables. And many of these areas are tucked back into quiet neighborhoods, and are not mentioned in any guidebooks. Stumbling upon one of these areas is one of the joys of exploring Italy.
Pizza originated in Naples, and no where else does it taste so good. Many locals say that the best pizza is found at Trianon, and we agree. Fired in a super-heated wood burning oven (seen here) for barely a minute, they taste wonderful--and all the toppings are gloriously fresh and sweet.
The best part is that the pizzas are enormous. We, like everyone else in the restaurant, each ordered our own pizza and were taken aback by the size as they arrived, thinking there was no way we could eat all this. But they are very thin so eating an entire pizza by yourself, while challenging, can readily be done. Another thing: the pizzas are not cut for you when they come out of the oven, and most Neapolitans eat their pizza with knife and fork, rarely picking it up with their hands. Very good and reasonably priced: about $4.50usd per pizza.
One of the most grand, and open, public spaces in Naples is the Piazza del Plebiscito. For a long time, this area was a mere parking lot. But when the G-7 decided to hold their World Conference in Naples at a building on the square, the then Mayor saw to it that this public space was cleaned up, the cars and motorbikes forbidden, and the area was restored to its former grandeur.
Naples, while often considered the ugly step-child given the status of Rome, Venice and Florence, is actually a fascinating and picturesque city. As it sits on the Tyrrhenian Sea, with the infamous Mt. Vesuvius looming in the background, its setting is very attractive.
While in Naples, we took a day to explore the nearby ruins of
Pompeii and Herculaneum.
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