The view from the NH Ambassador Hotel offers a view of the historic center of Naples, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The green roofed church is Santa Chiara with the large majolica cloister behind it. The view extends up to the Capodimonte hills.
Called "the Castle of the Egg" it was originally built in the 12th century and has been adapted several times. The facade that appears today is mostly from the Aragonese period.
Local legend says that the Roman poet Virgil buried an egg inside the castle and if it should ever be found the castle and Naples will be destroyed. The castle is the star of the evening passeggiata along the Lungomare at sunset, one of the most beautiful sites in Naples. There's very little of historic importance left inside the castles but a walk along the ramparts offers exquisite views of Vesuvius and the Bay of Naples.
The evening passeggiata along the Lungomare in Naples is a must-see experience for everyone who visits Naples. Young and old are out for an evening stroll and as the sun sets along the Bay of Naples, the sky takes on a pink hue. Street vendors are often out selling trinkets and jewelry. There are several caffes and restaurants open on Via Partenope and a few spots to get a gelato or snack right along the water.
With Capri in the distance, this is the view that the Greek poet Homer had in mind as he imagined Odysseus sailing through these waters, his ears plugged and his body tied to the ship's mast so that he could resist the alluring song of the sirens.
Neapolitan pizza is paper thin at the center, puffy and light at the edges and must be eaten with a knife and fork. While there's practically a pizzeria on every corner of Naples, it's not unusual to find locals waiting for hours on line to eat a pizzeria's like Sorbillo on the Via Tribunali, 50 Kalò in the Mergellina neighborhood or Pizzeria La Notizia near the soccer stadium.
Antica Pizzeria Brandi is credited with being the inventor of "la pizza Margherita". Located near the Royal Palace of Naples, when Queen Margherita of Piedmont came to visit Naples after the unification of Italy, the pizzaiolo made a pizza with the color of the new Italian flag, red (tomato sauce), white (mozzarella) and green (basil.)
One of the most important churches in Naples, it was originally a palace built for the Sanseverino family in the 15th century. It was sold to the Jesuit brothers in the 1580s and converted into an elaborate Baroque style church.
The facade has long been thought to contain a code as each of the pyramid shaped stones contains a symbol. While most art historians today believe the symbols are in fact stonemasons marks identifying who cut the stone (and who should be paid for it) a compelling theory that the symbols related to a piece of holy music.
Inside Gesù Nuovo
The interior of Gesù Nuovo is one of the greatest Baroque churches in Italy. In keeping with the ideals of Baroque art and architecture, there is no place for the eyes to rest. Precious inlaid stone meets swirling inlay patterns and frame gold sculptures and a dark and dramatic paintings by famous artists including Luca Giordano.
Piazza Gesù Nuovo
The piazza Gesù Nuovo is the perfect place to begin your stroll down Spaccanapoli. Notice the flowers in the hands of the bronze sculpture of the Virgin Mary on top of the obelisk in the piazza. Every December 8th, local fireman place fresh flowers in her hand to celebrate the feast of the Immaculate Conception.
Like Parthenope, the siren founder of Naples who died of heartbreak and washed up on the coast, the sfogliatella also arrived from the sea. One origin story, rote but beloved, describes a 16th century nun on the Amalfi coast experimenting with some cooked flour and milk during the dark early hours inside the convent’s kitchen. She formed the pastry to imitate the shape of a monk’s hood hanging along his back, thus inventing the smooth frolla version.
The recipe was made distinctly Neapolitan when a man named Pasquale Pintauro created a flaky shell that reminded of elaborate French pastries still fashionable in Naples, even after Marie Antoinette’s big sister had been deposed as queen. In the window of Pintauro’s pastry shop on the fashionable Via Toledo, the sfogliatelle were upended to resemble seashells, the new Rococo architectural motif in the city ruled by a Spanish Bourbon king.
Almost 200 years later, Pintauro’s pastry shop on the Via Toledo is still in place. Locals gather there for sfogliatelle on Sunday afternoons though legions loyal to “La Sfogliatella Mary” crowd around it in the Galleria Umberto.