Naples – San Ferdinando – Piazza Plebiscito
If you continue down Via Toledo and walk past Galleria Umberto you eventually come to the wide expanse of Piazza Plebiscito. There’ll probably be some kids playing football on it, or maybe workers setting up a stage for an open air concert.
On the far side of the square is the Palazzo Reale, one of the four royal palaces of the Bourbon kings, and on the other the Basilica Reale San Francesco di Paola with a façade modelled on the Pantheon in Rome.
It’s a tradition to stand with your back to the Palazzo Reale, close your eyes and try to walk between the two bronze horses. It’s not as easy as it sounds due to the gentle slope of the square.
In the south east corner you can get a great view of the Bay of Naples in the foreground and Mount Vesuvius towering behind it. This is the walking route to Chiaia, more of which in a following post.
Right next to the square, actually in the adjoining Piazza Trieste & Trento at #2, is the opulent Gran Caffè Gambrinus grancaffegambrinus.com, the most famous café in Naples.
It can be hard to attract the snooty waiters so I usually just stand at the bar to get fast service.
Of course prices are steep but you get plenty of stuzzichini (nibbles) if you order an aperitif.
Even if you don’t want to buy anything it’s worth popping in just to look at the Belle Epoque decoration…
… and the tempting cake displays in the adjoining patisserie.
It’s so posh it even has a little theatre in the back.
For a gift to take home you could purchase one of their fancy boxes of Pastiglie (pastilles).
If you want a really strong coffee go to Il Vero Bar del Professore a couple of doors down from Gambrinus at 46 Piazza Trieste & Trento www.ilverobardelprofessore.com.
It’s very famous among the locals and the espresso is certainly the strongest I’ve ever tasted. It’s not cheap though and the pastries are best avoided. There is a bar with virtually the same name right next door so make sure you get the right one.