In a city of over 500 churches, you won’t find a shortage of places to explore and bask in the true beauty of Baroque architecture.
Around every corner, Naples has history written into the very cobblestone roads from the Greek settlers all the way to the modernization of the twentieth century as the narrow grid roads had to be adapted for vehicles and the rush of traffic.
Below are a list of Castles and churches that are a must:
- Santa Chiara
- Sant’Elmo/Castello di Martino
- Gesù Nuovo – once the palace of the Sanseverino family.
- Gesù Vecchio
- Il Duomo/Chiesa di San Gennaro
- Chiesa del Carmina
- Church of Santa Caterina a Formiello
- Cappella San Severo
- San Gregorio Armeno
- San Domenico
Scattered throughout this post are peeks inside these particular churches. In many instances, you have to pay an entrance fee in order to help maintain the structures through constant renovations.
When visiting these churches, I would highly suggest keeping your shoulders covered!! These are all still active and functioning Catholic churches and it is best to be respectful of those who are praying and worshiping while you admire the buildings. A few even forbid photography… shh… don’t tell!
There are also a few photos from my day trip to Sorrento, so when you see this ^ particular spread, you’ll know where I was. The breathtaking panoramic views were as refreshing as the whipping wind as it was actually a city on a hill.
My university has recently joined with the Sant’Anna Institute for internships and semester abroad programs, so there is a very high possibility that you will be seeing an influx of Southern Italy blog posts over the next few months.
Hidden within the high walls and folds of Naples are little squares of paradise as the cloisters of the nuns build stunning gardens that were commonly meant to allude to the Babylonian paradises.
Above is a photo from the interior of the Cloister of Santa Chiara.
Overlooking the city is Sant’Elmo and Castello di Martino, offering you a splendid view of the entire city; from the historical center to the gulf coast.
And when you are in the birthplace of pizza… you simply have to eat an abundance of pizza! Margherita’s are the classic, but sometimes just pointing at a random dish is the way to go.
A popular pizza is the Napolini (or other various titles) including anchovies and olives as two of the toppings… I personally have yet to try it, but I’ve definitely heard good things about it from my professors.
And yes. I have officially become Moana. So put me on a boat, throw me into the water, and let me go restore the heart of Tafiti.
Peeking out of the boat from Ischia to Sorrento was the view of a town on a cliff. To access the majority of Sorrento, you climb rows upon rows of stairs… But the views are worth it, I promise.
Ischia is a small and little known island just outside of the Gulf of Naples. Most know of the tourist-filled Capri, but there is something about the magic of the Castle Aragonese that captures your heart and keeps it safe until you can return in the future.
Cue, more mozzarella… and more gelato…
On every block in Naples are at LEAST two gelateria’s so to be fair to each of them, you simply have to have a cone from them all. I’d say that my favorite flavors are nicciola, ciocolatto puro, caffe, and usually ones incorporating Nutella like cremino.
Surrounding il Duomo (the central church of Italian cities), is the Piomonte della Miserichordia with one of Caravaggio’s most acclaimed works, The Seven Works of Mercy. (The decorated pillar seen below is in that vicinity)
I suggest taking a taxi to get close to the church, but once you are there, there are countless tours to take and museums to visit regarding the art and history of Baroque Naples.
Breakfast in Italy:
It took a moment to transition from the American heavy and large breakfast to the dainty and sweet Italian breakfasts complete with a small pastry and an espresso drink.
My personal favorite breakfast pastry from Southern Italy grew to be the cornettos. They are typically filled with either crema or Nutella, though some pasticherria’s make them plain in an almost croissant fashion.
The sfogliatella is special to Naples as well as it was created by the nuns of the St Gregorio convent as a gift to the outside world. There are the traditional and the lychee versions. The lychee is more my style as it reminds me of a white cream truffle with a bread encasing.
While ordering coffee in the morning, go for a cappuccino or espresso. In the afternoon, go for caffe con panna (panna is whipped cream. trust me, it’s good), caffe shakerato, caffe crema, or espresso (I like my espresso, okay). At night, a simple espresso will cleanse the palate… after gelato.
If you’re looking for the nightlife in either Naples or Ischia, everything starts around 11-12 (so espresso it up). But roaming the streets with my girls was never disappointing as we immersed ourselves in a vibrant culture where everyone gets out and about rather than holing up inside.
Near Piazza Mercato is a church that houses the icon; The Brown Madonna, that has attracted hoards of individuals for centuries ever since its introduction in the 13th century. It is said that by being in its presence, that you will have a wish or prayer answered… Care to give it a go?
Our views from our classroom atop of a terrace in Ischia weren’t terrible either as we were able to work to the sound of waves crashing against the beach.
Before class, in-between lessons, and afterwards you would find me in the water that was a mere few meters from our hotel.