Archive for the Naples Category

Naples – Centro Storico – Street Art

Posted in Campania, Centro Storico, Italy, Naples with tags , on February 9, 2016 by gannet39

Naples is a hot spot for street art and graffiti. Most of the best stuff is found on Via Tribunali, Spaccanapoli and their side streets, particularly around the university district.

Artists come from everywhere to display their art, like Banksy for instance.

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CRL is on a similar tip.

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But this is my favourite one by CRL.

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CLET is a French artist who lives in Florence. I’ve seen his work in Genoa and Madrid as well.

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KAF

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CYOP

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CYOP & KAF

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Zolta

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Diego Miedo



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Some political stencils.

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And some not.

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Some graff.

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Some posters.

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Unknown artists

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Naples – Centro Storico – Porta Gennaro

Posted in Campania, Centro Storico, Italy, Naples, Porta Gennaro with tags , , on February 8, 2016 by gannet39

Porta Gennaro is the on the northern boundary of San Lorenzo, the quarter of Naples that corresponds to the Centro Storico. Via Foria separates San Lorenzo from Sanita which I wrote about in my previous post. The Archaeological Museum is nearby…

…and there’s an excellent pizzeria here:

Pizzeria Lombardi (A), 12/14 Via Foria, www.pizzerialombardi.it

There are quite a few reasons I like Lombardi but in a nutshell the pizza is great, the service is good and you can sit outside if you wish.

I’m not sure how they make their pizza base but it’s different to elsewhere, lighter and softer somehow. My local teacher friend thought that it might be because they use sparkling water when they’re mixing the dough. It’s like no other pizza I’ve tasted.

I had their buffalo mozzarella Margherita which was great (A) although not particularly cheap at €9.

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… and a bottle of Peroni Rosso which was a new beer to me. It hit the spot perfectly (A).

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Everything feels more refined here for some reason. The friendly guy who served me spoke the best English I’ve ever encountered in a pizzeria (not that this matters).

I like their quirky décor too. Definitely in my top five pizzerias.

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Capasso (Intermediate B+), 2 Via Porta San Gennaro (in the shadow of the gate).

I was brought to this restaurant and pizzeria for lunch on a few occasions. Unfortunately I only eat salads for lunch and avoid any carbs because I can’t afford to be sleepy at work. The salads were very good though!

According to local food critic Lucinano Pignataro they are renowned for their pizza. I’ll have to come back and try one.

Naples – Rione Sanita

Posted in Campania, Italy, Naples, Rione Sanita with tags , , on February 7, 2016 by gannet39

I worked in Rione Sanita (otherwise known as Stella) for a week in 2015. It’s a very historical area and Maria one of the teachers was kind enough to give me a tour which is how I know about all the stuff below.

Unfortunately nowadays it’s also a poverty stricken Camorra stronghold with a high crime rate so I was advised to be on my guard in the evenings when dusk was falling. Any eating was done around Porta Gennaro on Via Foria, a busy main road nearby (see next post).

Rione Sanita literally means ‘health district’ and the name arose because the area was perceived to be a healthier place to live than other neighbourhoods, perhaps because of the fresher winds from the sea at this slightly higher altitude. Many rich people built their ‘palazzi’ here as a result.

One famous house is the Palazzo dello Spagnolo at 19 Via dei Vergini, built by the architect Ferdinando Sanfelice.

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The façade doesn’t look particularly interesting but if you walk into the internal courtyard you can see a lovely example of a ‘hawk’s wing staircase’ with its double flight of stairs.

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The ceilings have beautifully ornate stucco work.

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Some floors of the palace are to become a museum dedicated to the famous Neapolitan actor, writer and comedian Totò who was born in Sanita in 1898. The image of ‘the Prince of laughter’ can be found all over the city, sometimes in the most unexpected places…

As the Italian equivalent to Charlie Chaplin he made over one hundred films, often playing poor, slightly immoral but ultimately good-hearted characters. The spaghetti scene in the 1954 film ‘Miseria e Nobiltà’ (Poverty and Nobility) is one of his most famous.

Via dei Vergini is home to a thriving street market that is worth a wander. At 60 Via dei Vergini you’ll see an archway that leads to Via Supportico Lopez.

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In the archway itself there’s a small shrine with a painted cross that is very old according to Maria. She told me that the reason there are so many shrines in Naples is because they were an early form of street lighting. The candles allowed people to see where they were going and greatly reduced the rate of street crime (see my post on shrines).

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A few metres up Via Supportico Lopez on the left is La Primizia da Tonino, a fantastic green grocers. Another teacher told me it’s reputed to be ‘the best in Naples’. It certainly is the most vibrant one I’ve seen although by the look of him I think Tonino scoffs a lot of his own produce.

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I love the displays of cherry tomatoes. The variety pictured are the famous Pomodorini del Piennolo del Vesuvio which are hung in clusters to extend their freshness.

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This is the best tomato for dishes such as pasta with clams and acquapazza. Just wish I had access to a kitchen!

Naples – Materdei

Posted in Campania, Italy, Materdei, Naples with tags on February 6, 2016 by gannet39

Starita a Materdei (Elementary A), 27-28 Via Materdei, Tel. 081 557 3682/ 5441 485, www.pizzeriastarita.it

I heart this famous pizzeria, even though it’s a bit of a trek. It’s a fair way up the steep hill that runs up the side of the Archaeological Museum (Google map here). On the plus side there are no tourists because of the hill so they’ll be happy to see you, which makes a nice change from the grumpy staff at most pizzerias in the old town.

They sell Lowenbrau (B) by the litre here, and feeling thirsty after the climb, I started off with a huge flagon that went a long way to filling me up.

They have a very impressive range of fritti, including a delicious Frittatine di Pasta (A+) which is a deeply satisfying, deep fried mixture of spaghetti, pork and smoked buffalo mozzarella cheese.

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Other classics on the menu are angioletti (deep-fried pizza dough), crocche di patate (potato, mozzarella, bread crumbs), arancini (rice, ham, peas, mozzarella, pecorino) and fiori di zucca (courgette flowers).

Others I think might be creations of the restaurant, such as montarnarine (dough puffs topped with tomato sauce, pecorino), soffritelle (stuffed with a ‘sofrito’ of onion, celery, carrot) fraticelli (lightly fried dough stuffed with aged provolone), battilochi (with pesto) and rotolino (with courgette flowers and nuts).

I’m not one to change my pizza eating habits so as usual I had a Margherita Bufala which, as guaranteed by the sign outside, was a classic Vera Pizza Neapolitana (A).

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The Sarno area of Campania has a famous apple, the Mele Annurca, which has its own DOC  (see my Sarno post). A liqueur called Rossolio is made from the apple which I adore. When I saw it on the list of digestivi I ordered it immediately but was disappointed to receive a factory made version that did little for me (C).

Despite this small disappointment at the end, this is a great place for food and they were very friendly towards me. I shall be back.

Naples – Montecalvario – stuff to see around La Pignasecca

Posted in Campania, Italy, La Pignasecca, Montecalvario, Naples with tags , on February 5, 2016 by gannet39

Montecalvario is the neighbourhood to the west of Via Toledo. It takes in much of the Spanish Quarter and the area to the north, all the way up to the National Archaeological museum.

Within Montecalvario, Via Pignasecca is the street just to the north of the Spanish Quarter. It’s home to the oldest street market in Naples but I never get to go as I’m usually working when it’s open (8am to 1pm). Here are some pictures from the web to give you an idea.

The market is best accessed along Via Pignasecca which leads from Piazza della Carita on Via Toledo. On the west side of the square, in the entrance to the building on the corner with Via Pignasecca, there’s a nice example of a hawk wing staircase.

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I hope to fill up this post with more photos on my next trip, so I’ve put places to eat in Pignasecca in a separate post.

Naples – Montecalvario – places to eat around Pignasecca

Posted in Campania, Italy, La Pignasecca, Montecalvario, Naples with tags , , , on February 4, 2016 by gannet39

Like the Spanish Quarter, Pignasecca is a good area to experience Cucina Tipica Napoletana. I especially like this place…

La Taverna Buongustaio (Elementary B+), 8 Via Basilo Puoti, first left off Via Pasquale Scura which is at 394 Via Toledo.Tel. 081 551 2626. Open every day for lunch and dinner except Sunday evening.

Buongustaio

The ‘Gourmet Tavern’ is a favourite of mine, and of Anthony Bourdain it would seem. (Here’s an out take (in Italian) of his No Reservations show). It’s s a tiny hole in the wall place which somehow manages to squeeze in 26 covers. The decor is plain with cartoon drawings on the walls. Plastic tablecloths complete the ambience.

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It’s usually fully booked so try to reserve for when it opens at 8pm. It’ll be full with locals by 9 and have a queue by 10. The menu is spoken (quickly) so it’s best to have some ability in Italian. The Italian word for slowly is ‘lentamente’.

I can recommend the antipasti misto which includes mini versions of bruschetta, deep fried mozzarella, an arancina (rice ball), a croquette, and something ‘di pasta’ which I didn’t quite catch, but it’s all delicious (A).

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I can recommend the Spaghetti con Polipetti; pasta with baby octopus in a sauce of cherry tomatoes and parsley (A).

Spaghetti con Polipetti

The Rigatoni with bacon, tomato and chilli is good too (B+).

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The deep fried Pesce Bandera (a white fish which looks like a long silver band) was nice but the portion is a bit small (B).

Pesce Bandera

You might want a second secondo, perhaps the Salsiccia Napoletana (A) with a side helping of bitter Friarelli (B).

Salsiccia Napoletana

The house white becomes more agreeable after the first few sips as does the red (both C+).

There are no desserts but they have, amongst others, Melannurca; a digestivo made from the famous Campanian apple (see my Sarno post).

My gluttonous bill can come to a mere €30 for four dishes and three drinks, but you could easily spend much less here, say €20, and still be satisfied. The service is now much friendlier than it was.

La Vecchia Cantina (Elementary B+), 14 Via San Nicola alla Carita, which is at 378 Via Toledo.

A pleasant little place with red gingham table cloths, old but spruced up and serving trad Neapolitan dishes. Many things on the menu were indecipherable but so cheap you might as well just order them to see what they are. The service is friendly but non-English speaking, so you should have some ability in Italian if you want to negotiate what’s on offer.

To start I had Zeppoline di Mare for €2.50 (B); deep fried doughballs with “algae” which I presume is seaweed.

Zeppoline di Mare

I sent the house red back as I couldn’t drink it (D), and had it replaced with a bottle of Falanghina white which got better with time after a poor start (B-). Although it was chilled, they couldn’t supply a wine cooler, although they did keep it in the fridge and poured it out for me when I wanted it.

Falanghina

For my pasta course I had “Spollichini” for €5, which turned out to be a version of Pasta e Fagioli (cannellini beans) but with short spaghettis rather than the usual mixed pasta. Simple but delicious (B for buoni!), especially when sprinkled with peperoncino and oil.

Spollichini

Next I had the house signature dish Filetto Vecchia Cantina, a good quality but small and slightly overdone beef steak (B-), which was the most expensive thing on the menu at €13. Also I’m not fond of the Italian tendency to put shavings of Parmesan on a steak which detracts from the taste of both as far as I’m concerned. I had it with a contorno of Spinaci Burro e Parmagiano (spinach with butter and parmesan) which was great (A) if a bit calorific.

Filetto

To finish, a warmed piece of Charlotte di Mele (a slice of apple sponge cake) and a mingy glass of slightly chilled limoncello (not frozen which is my preference), which was only €2.50. So I had another.

Charlotte di Mele

Conclusion: theoretically you could eat five dishes of good food here with a half litre of ropey wine for under €30. However my bill came to a greedy €46 which was still very good value. Locals were still arriving to eat at 10.30pm.

Antica Pasticceria Pasquale Scaturchio (Intermediate B+), 22-24 Via Portamedina alla Pignasecca, armandoscaturchio.com

This is an old cafe (since 1903) near the Montesanto Metro station. It’s a friendly place that does good coffee and cakes.

Decent cuppa

I had two small Babas (Babarini) one with ‘panna’, which is cream in English, and the other with ‘crema’, made from sweetened ricotta. It’s easy to get confused!

Babarini

Not somewhere to go out of your way for but a good place for a pit stop if you’re in the area.

Antiche Delizie (Intermediate A), 14 Via Pasquale Scura

A deli selling cheese, charcuterie, anti-pasti and wines. They are said to sell the best Mozzarella in town and on Fridays they sell Caprignetti, a herb-stuffed goat’s cheese.

Naples – Spanish Quarter – Where to eat Cucina Tipica Napoletana

Posted in Campania, Italy, Naples, Quartieri Spagnoli with tags , , on February 3, 2016 by gannet39

To experience typical Neapolitan home cooking the best area to go to is the Spanish Quarter. There are quite a few small trattorias and cantinas here serving Cucina Tipica Napoletana at bargain prices. I’ve listed three below in order of preference.

Trattoria da Nennella (Elementary A), 105 Vico Lungo Teatro Nuovo (between the cross streets Vico Figuerelle a Montecalvario and Vico Teatro Nuovo, which you will find at 323 Via Toledo), Tel. 081 414338. GEM ALERT!

I stumbled upon this place many years ago when I was wandering aimlessly around, well off the tourist track. There were several locals waiting outside which I took as a good sign so I put my name down and joined the queue. When my turn came, the waiters renamed me Raffa and plonked me at a table with some builders for company who kindly helped me choose what to eat.

All I had was a slab of Lasagna with tiny meatballs inside it, and a plate of Friarielli, a local green which looks similar to spinach but is actually from the broccoli family, and is particular to Campania. This quick meal was one of the most delicious things I’d ever eaten and ridiculously cheap, around €4 (in 2005).

The place also stuck in my head because of the funny waiters who occupied themselves during quiet moments by throwing empty plastic water bottles at each other over the heads of their customers.

I tried to find it again every time I went back to the city but to no avail, until I finally tracked it down again in 2011.

The sawdust on the floor has disappeared and they now have an outside terrace, which means they can seat more customers, but you still have to arrive early to avoid queuing.

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The food was the same as I remembered; good basic fare with no pretensions, and very, very cheap, although sadly the lasagna of my dreams was not on the menu that day.

Instead I had Pasta e Patate con Provola; mixed shape pasta with potatoes and melting lumps of Provola cheese, very simple and carb heavy and made even more delicious with a heaped tablespoon of parmesan sprinkled over it (B+).

Pasta e Patate con Provola

Next Polipo in Cassuola, a whole baby octopus stewed with cherry tomatoes until very tender. It looked a bit daunting at first, but tasted very nice (B).

Polipo in Cassuola

My contorno once again was Friarielli in Padella (from the frying pan) (B).

 

They don’t do desserts but I got a plastic cup of cherries to finish.

All this came with bread, water, and a big unlabelled bottle of white wine, all for the astounding price of €12. I challenge you to find better value, tasty food anywhere else in the city.

The waiters haven’t changed either, it’s the same two brothers who seem to run the place. At one point there was a sudden blast of sound as a salsa tape was put on and an unsuspecting customer was pulled out of her chair and whirled around the tables by one of the brothers.

A turn around the tables

Conclusion: great food and entertainment, what more could you ask?

Hostal Toledo (Elementary B), 78 Vico Giardinetto, www.hosteriatoledo.it

I came here for Sunday lunch in 2015. It’s fairly atmospheric and quite popular with locals and tourists alike. Service is friendly and efficient.

I started with the Antipasti Toledo (grilled peppers, two types of mushrooms, potatoes, grilled aubergine and deep-fried mozzarella and aubergine frittura) which was okay (B).

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Then Ziti al Ragu; tubes of pasta with a simple tomato sauce (B). Ziti are a type of penne but are longer and have square cut edges. The name can also refer to a dish that uses penne.

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To drink, a white wine from Ischia from Parrazzo, the oldest winery on the island www.perrazzo.it. This was the only let down (C), mainly because it was unchilled. For this reason I think it’s best to stick to red in these kinds of places. The limoncello was a bit pricey at €4.

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Total cost with water and service €37. Conclusion: a nice place serving good food. My choices could have been a bit better,

Cantina della Tofa (Elementary B), 71 Vico della Tofa, Tel.081 406 840.

Yet another purveyor of Cucina Tipica Napoletana. The decor is modern and bright and the service is very friendly . The proprietor is an ex rugby player and the Asian waiter a runaway from the Sri Lankan army. They also have free Wi-Fi, an unusual bonus. It’s fairly cheap with most prices are in single figures. You could in theory eat three courses for €19.

You might want to get a table away from the door though, or suffer the car fumes (i gas di scarico) from the street outside, although they shut the door and switched the aircon on when I asked to be moved. None of the antipasti really inspired me so I went for Bruschette Classiche, diced tomatoes on hard, possibly stale bread, which was a bit heavy but fine (B-).

Bruschetta

Next, Pasta con Soffrito which was Ziti with diced liver (fegato), lungs (pulmone) and intestines in a tomato sauce. It isn’t so bad if you don’t think about it too much (B).

Soffrito

Polpette a Ragu meatballs in tomato sauce, never good to look at but always very tasty (B).

Meatballs

For my contorno, yet another dish of Friarelli which is really nice when sprinkled with peperoncino. The house white is ok (C+) and the red is drinkable (C-).

 

To finish two types of Baba, the famous rum-soaked Neapolitan cake (Polish and Slavic in origin but brought to Naples by the Bourbon kings), with squirty cream and cherries on the side. It was ok (C) but I’ve had better, perhaps with better quality rum.

Baba

To go with this, a few slugs of complementary limoncello from a large bottle that was left on the table. Total cost, a paltry €35.

Limoncello

Conclusion: a nice spot which I will return to because of its friendliness, but other local places are probably better, as the lack of customers might signify. And the fumes from the street can really spoil the experience.

See also my Pignasecca post for a couple more trattorias nearby that are of a similar ilk.

Naples – Spanish Quarter – Shrines

Posted in Campania, Italy, Naples, Quartieri Spagnoli with tags , , , , , , , on February 2, 2016 by gannet39

A cultural feature of Genoa and cities in the south of Italy, and many other places in the Mediterranean, are the small shrines or ‘edicole sacre‘ that are literally everywhere. In Naples they are often found on street corners and on the sides of buildings, most especially in the Spanish Quarter.

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The practice of building small altars in public spaces in Naples probably began with the Greeks and was taken up and spread further by Christianity.

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A teacher that I worked with once told me that during the reign of Charles III of Bourbon (mid 18th century), his adviser Father Rocco, with a view to reducing street crime, encouraged the spread of the shrines and the lighting of candles inside them.

This created the first system of street lighting which allowed the local population to walk around at night more safely than before.

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Electric lighting has replaced the candles now of course.

Other names for edicole sacre are capitelli, nicchie votive, madonnelle, madonnine, santelle, tabernacoli and votivi.

Naples – Spanish Quarter – stuff to see

Posted in Campania, Italy, Naples, Quartieri Spagnoli with tags , on February 1, 2016 by gannet39

TThe Quartieri Spagnoli or Spanish Quarter is the area of tufo paved streets running uphill to the west of Via Toledo.

Spanish Quarter street

It was built in the sixteenth century to house the Spanish garrison of soldiers whose job it was to keep the local population down. Almost immediately it became an area associated with prostitution and criminality.

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In more recent times it has suffered from high unemployment, poverty and criminality and Camorra control.

Nuns on the run

As you might imagine, the Neapolitan language is stronger in this working class neighbourhood than anywhere else. Those classic postcard shots of washing hanging across the streets were all taken here.

Spanish steps

It’s definitely an edgier area than others but in my opinion the biggest danger in the daytime is being flattened by a Valentino Rossi wannabe on a speeding scooter.

That aside, it’s one of my favourite neighbourhoods for just walking around and soaking up the atmosphere.

Wine and oil shop

I love all the old shop fronts from yesteryear.

Salumeria

Please see my separate post on shrines in the Spanish Quarter.

There are several trattorias where you can get real Neapolitan home cooking for next to nothing (reviews here).

Naples – Vomero

Posted in Campania, Italy, Naples, Vomero with tags , , , on January 31, 2016 by gannet39

Vomero is one of the poshest residential areas in Naples. It’s up on top of the hill, away from the madding crowds. The hillside is very steep, literally a high wall that keeps the plebs out. Traditionally people use a funicular train to move up and down to the old city below (you can take the metro now too).

I don’t come up here very often but in 2015, I was working in Vomero for a couple of days so I tried out a few of the local institutions. The first two are near or on Via Cimarosa, by the funicular station of the same name.

Friggitoria Vomero (Elementary A), 44 Via Cimarosa (opposite the funicular)

This is one of the best friggitoria’s in Naples. Their fritture include Frittatine di Maccheroni (fried pasta with egg), Suppli di Riso and Arancino (both kinds of rice balls), Crocche (potato croquettes) and Graffa (sweet doughnut made of flour and potato) amongst others.

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I had a suppli and…

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…a frittatine di maccheroni with a cold beer which was oh so good (A).

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Pizzeria Gorizia (High Intermediate B+), 29 Gian Lorenzo Bernini, www.gorizia1916.com

This is an old school (since 1915) posh restaurant and pizzeria with waiters in formal white tunics.

The Margherita di Bufala I had was made with fresh pomodorini. It was good, but I prefer a tomato sauce base for more consistent flavour (B).

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To drink a bottle of Forst (B), a German beer I’d not had before.

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Total cost €16.50. An experience worth having but I’ll try something else off the menu if I come again.

Jorudan Sushi (High Intermediate A), 288 Via Torquato Tasso, www.facebook.com/Jorudan-Sushi

It’s a bit of a hike up the hill but it’s worth it for the best Japanese food I know of in Naples. This is probably because the chef, a friendly English speaking chap, is actually Japanese. That’s not to say chefs of other nationalities can’t make good sushi but I have yet to come across one who can match the best Japanese chefs. As he put it, ‘they have different hands’.

I had the Chirashizushi Salmone which was orgasmic (A+).

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I followed up with two salmon and avocado Temaki, also wonderful (A). With a jug of hot sake and a beer the bill came to €33 which I think is very reasonable.

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I lived in Japan for a few years and became addicted to sushi. There’s very little that makes me happier than reliving favourite food memories like this. I just wish the restaurant was easier to get to.

Grand Hotel Parker’s, 135 Corso Vittorio Emanuele, www.grandhotelparkers.it

This five star hotel has a lot of history, and an amazing view of Chiaia and the Gulf of Naples, which is the reason I came. I can’t afford to stay here but I can just about afford to eat in the George Restaurant or have a drink in the Bidder’s Bar which are both on the top floor in the roof garden.

Unfortunately I was seated right next to a loud American family who were making a real racket. I moved to the bar only to be sat next to two Italian men arguing. I gave up at this point and went elsewhere to eat. On the plus side it saved me a bit of money and I still got to see the view even if it was just for a few minutes. It would be a good place to go with a date and watch the sun go down.

Naples – Centro Storico – Churches

Posted in Campania, Centro Storico, Italy, Naples with tags , , , , , , , , on January 30, 2016 by gannet39

I’m not a believer but even an atheist can still appreciate the beauty of the stunning religious art housed in Naples’ numerous churches and chapels.

According to this thread, there are around 440 churches in the 17 square kilometers of the old town. I’ve heard that this is a higher density than Rome which has 900 churches in total, so I’m not sure if this is true. Either way, it’s a lot! Here are a few of my favourites.

Duomo di San Gennaro, 149 Via Duomo, www.chiesadinapoli.it

Naples cathedral was founded in the 5th century but the current building was built between 1294 and 1323 in a French Gothic style.

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It has been renovated and reconstructed several times due to earthquakes. The western facade is Neo-Gothic whereas the decoration inside is mainly Baroque.

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To your left as you enter is the Basilica di Santa Restituta, also known as the Capella di Santa Restituta. It’s the oldest church in Naples (built in the 6th century) and located on the site of the original cathedral which itself was constructed over a Greek temple dedicated to Apollo. It was incorporated into the later Gothic cathedral as a chapel. Some early Christian art can be seen here.

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The main altar of the chapel reminds me of a theatre stage, which isn’t far from the truth.

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Some think the columns in the chapel come from the original Greek temple.

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You can view excavations under the chapel but I didn’t have time unfortunately.

Back in the main cathedral, off to the right of the nave is the Capella di San Gennaro, built between 1608 and 1637. It houses part of the Tesoro di San Gennaro, a collection of artworks donated or paid for by Popes, Kings, Emperors, rich and poor alike over seven centuries. It’s been calculated that the collection is more valuable than those of either the British or Russian royal families.

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The collection includes seventy life-size silver busts which would have been paraded during religious celebrations. They remind me of metallic androids so they must have made quite an impression on the city’s populace as they glinted in the sun out on the street.

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This one is modelling a bishop’s mitre encrusted with diamonds, rubies and emeralds.

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This was just a lightning visit, there’s lots more to see.

Capella Sansevero, 19/21 Via Francesco De Sanctis, www.museosansevero.it

Tucked away on a back street between Via Tribunali and Spaccanapoli, this chapel is for me the jewel in the crown of Naples’ many stunning churches. Sadly no photographs are allowed inside so please click on the links to see pictures from the web.

Capella Sansevero was the private chapel of the noble Sansevero family. It was renovated and redesigned by Raimondo di Sangro, seventh Prince of Sansevero (1710 – 1771) who was by turns a soldier, writer, inventor, scientist, alchemist, Freemason and speaker of several languages. It’s also said that he was a Rosicrucian, a secret religious order with a preference for empiricism in opposition to the dogma of the Catholic Church. He was excommunicated by the church but this was later revoked.

Although he was undoubtedly a genius, there are many gory stories associated with him. It was rumoured that he had people killed so that he could conduct experiments on their bodies. Indeed two incredibly detailed anatomical models can be seen in the cellar of the church. Popular belief had it that the models were of his servant and a pregnant woman, into whose veins he injected an artificial substance that caused the blood to solidify in the veins. However recent research has shown that the models are in fact artificial.

Several beautiful marble carvings cover the walls of the main chapel. On the floor in the centre of the chapel is the stunning ‘Veiled Christ‘ by Giuseppe Sanmartino. It depicts the dead Christ lying on a couch covered by a transparent veil under which the signs of his suffering can be seen on his face and body. The realism of the statue is incredible and it’s rightly considered to be one of the world’s greatest masterpieces. Some pictures here.

Di Sangro spent the last years of his life working on his chapel and before his passing he destroyed many of his notes. After his death, most of his remaining writings and laboratory equipment were burnt by his relatives who were in fear of their own excommunication by the Church as a result of his activities. All this of course only added to the mystery surrounding this intriguing character.

Entrance cost €7 in 2015.

San Domenico Maggiore, 8 Piazza San Domenico Maggiore

San Domenico is one of the most beautiful churches in Naples, built between 1283 and 1324.

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Originally Gothic, it was given a Baroque makeover in 1670, then restored back to Gothic again in the 19th century.

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The church and the square of the same name were the centre of the court of the Aragonese kings who ruled Naples. Their coffins are on the balcony that runs around the church.

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Examples of inlaid marble, known as Pietra Dura can be seen everywhere. Polished colored stones are cut and fitted together to create images. The same technique was also used for the mausoleum in the Taj Mahal.

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And of course there are lions.

Again a flying visit so this is just a brief survey.

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Chiesa di San Paolo Maggiore, 76 Piazza San Gaetano,

Chiesa di San Paolo Maggiore

This baroque church was built over a 1st century Greek temple near the crossroads that mark the heart of the Greek and Roman city. Two corinthian columns from the temple have been tacked on to the church facade as you can see in the photo above.

Inside San Paolo Maggiore

The main altar (1775-1776) was designed by Ferdinando Fuga who also designed the Ospedale L’Albergo Reale dei Poveri which is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Altar at San Paolo Maggiore

To the left of the altar is the Chapel of Firrao di Sant’Agata built in the 17th century. Gazing upwards you can just imagine you’re ascending to heaven.

Chapel basilica in San Paolo Maggiore

Chiesa di San Giovanni a Carbonara, 5 Via Carbonara, en.wikipedia.org

Due to it’s location just outside the city walls this was where rubbish was burnt in the Middle Ages, hence the name Carbonara.

It was founded in 1343 but the current Gothic facade was designed in the early 18th century by Ferdinando Sanfelice who was also responsible for San Lorenzo Maggiore (and also noted for his ‘hawk wing’ staircases, see my Sanita post).

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I haven’t been inside the church (not sure if it’s possible) but I quite like the ornate doorway with small statues that look like they’re crying pollution.

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In the lunette (literally ‘little moon’, the space above a door set in a rounded arch) is a fresco by the Lombard artist Leonardo da Besozzo.

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To be continued…

Naples – Centro Storico – Piazza Monteoliveto

Posted in Campania, Centro Storico, Italy, Naples, Piazza Monteoliveto with tags , , on January 29, 2016 by gannet39

Piazza Monteoliveto is a medium-sized square sandwiched between Via Toledo and Via Sant’ Anna dei Lombardi. As it’s slightly off the beaten track it’s often ignored by tourists and is mainly populated by skiving students from the nearby university.

There’s quite a nice fountain in the square, the Fontana di Monteoliveto, which has some freaky features.

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It’s also a good place for a quick snack…

Pizzeria Giuliano (Elementary B+). 33 Calata Trinità Maggiore, www.pizzeriagiuliano.com

According to Time Out, this small pizzeria (standing room only) sells the best pizzette (mini pizza) in town. I don’t disagree (B). Think I paid about €2 with a beer.

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There are a couple of nice looking restaurants in the square which I’d like to try next time I’m in town, so I’ll have some more to add to this post.

Naples – Centro Storico – places to eat on Via Spaccanapoli

Posted in Campania, Centro Storico, Italy, Naples, Via Spaccanapoli with tags , , on January 28, 2016 by gannet39

Palazzo Petrucci (Advanced B+), 4 Piazza San Domenico Maggiore (the large square at the western end of Spaccanapoli), www.palazzopetrucci.it

A relative new kid (since 2007) on a very old block, upmarket Petrocchi with its modern innovative attitude makes a welcome change to the same old classical Neapolitan fare that the majority of local restaurants churn out. It’s formal and quite expensive but I thought the experience was worth the money. They also have a pizzeria in the same square.

I’ve been to the restaurant twice and really enjoyed it each time. The second time I had their cheaper €70 tasting menu (they have a another one for €100). Unfortunately I’ve lost the menu so can’t tell you exactly what some of these dishes were, but they were all good (at least B-).

I don’t usually comment on bread baskets but their Grissini are very moreish (A) and the size of thighbones! Their Taralli are excellent too (B+).

To begin, fresh prawns with a cream cheese, an unusual combo for me (B-).

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Then squid in an artichoke sauce I think (B).

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After this, Spaghettone con Acqua Pazza, Wasabi e battuto de Gallinella di Mare (thick spaghetti with a tomato and parsley ‘crazy water‘ broth, Japanese horseradish and chunks of Red Gurnard) was let down by being a bit too salty and served on a cold plate (B-).

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My favourite dish was the Triglia, Ortaggi. Cicoli e Salsa di Mandorle Tostate’ (red mullet, vegetables including red cabbage, baby tomato, almond sauce, courgette, parsley and micro herbs, rendered pork fat and toasted almond sauce) which scored an A for flavour and an A+ for presentation with ingredients dotted all over the plate creating a very attractive visual effect.

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I tried a few of their desserts.

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And a few of their digestivos. The limoncello (B+) and the nocillo (A) were particularly good, the amaro less so (B).

The service was exemplary, especially from the wine waiters, and standards are generally very high.

Pizzeria Vesi (Low Intermediate B), 115 Via San Biagio Dei Librai (one of the eastern continuations of Spaccanapoli/Benedetto Croce), www.vesi.it, open Sunday

I tried their unusual Margherita ‘DOC’ (B+) which is made with no tomato sauce, just fresh San Marzano tomatoes and Grana Padano (cheaper than Parmesan) scattered on the top. Total cost with a Nastro for €10.50.

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Service ranged between average and unfriendly (the young guy with the scowl) and is the reason I probably won’t go back. However they do have an outside terrace on the street.

Antica Pizzeria Dell’Angelo (Intermediate B=), 16 Piazzetta Nilo (halfway along Spaccanapoli), www.pizzeriadellangelo.com

Another pizzeria with a terrace outside (quite unusual) so a good place for a pit stop on a hot day. Their USP is the ‘cornicione ripenio’ where the crust around the edge of the pizza is stuffed with such fillings as cream, ricotta or a puree of five other cheeses.

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Needing a change I went with the waiter’s suggestion of the Aristocratica with prosciutto, provola, olio d’oliva, formaggio (?), basilico, funghi with a crust stuffed with mousse di prosciutto (yuck). Can’t say I liked it unfortunately (C), so it’s back to Margheritas for me. There are other more normal options here as well so I’m not writing them off completely.

Antica Osteria Pisano (Low Intermediate B), 1 Piazette al Mannesi (on the crossroads of Via Duomo and Via Viaccaria Vecchia, at the eastern end of Spaccanapoli), www.osteriapisano.it

One guide describes this as a friendly family restaurant but they must have been having bad days on the two occasions I went. Enzo the owner didn’t even say hello when I came in and just ignored me. His wife Nunzia is a bit nicer but doesn’t seem very happy.

Thankfully the food is great. The Sciatelle alla Vongole was excellent (A).

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The Spigola all Acqua Pazza (A) cooked al cartoccio (baked in a foil parcel) at my request.

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The recommended Falanghina was okay (B) however they don’t have a fridge in which to chill the wine. That’s fine, but an ice bucket should be supplied as a matter of course, but I had to ask for it. The homemade Limoncello was good though (A).

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It’s a small place seating 32 inside and 12 outside on their terrace. The food is good value with primos and meat secondos costing €5-8 and sea food secondos €8-12 (in 2015).

I probably would go back just for the food, if there was nowhere else nearby to go.

Naples – Centro Storico – pizzerias on Via Tribunali

Posted in Campania, Centro Storico, Italy, Naples, Via Tribunali with tags , , , on January 27, 2016 by gannet39

Via Tribunali and Spaccanapoli (see separate food post) have the greatest concentration of pizzerias in Naples, as you’d probably expect in such a touristy area. There are several shops along Tribunali, all good, but some are better than others…

Pizzeria Sorbillo (Elementary A+), 32 Via Tribunali, www.sorbillo.it

This classic Neapolitan pizzeria is my favourite place in town to eat pizza. They’ve been dishing it out since 1935 and are rightly featured in nearly every guide you can think of. If you can I’d go straight up the stairs to the less frenetic first floor with its dim lighting, wooden beams and soundtrack of Neapolitan songs. Try and bag the table by the balcony for the cool breeze and view of the street below.

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There are thirty varieties of pizza on the menu, twenty one of which are named after the Sorbillo grandchildren, all pizza makers in their own right. I like to have the classic Margherita for €3.30 which is so big it hangs over the side of the already large plate. It’s one of the best I’ve ever had in Naples and I’ve certainly had a few. Paulaner is the house beer which doesn’t seem very patriotic but it hits the spot.

Sorbillo Margherita

To finish I recommend one of their tiny chocolate mousses and a frozen Limoncello. There are other digestivos in the freezer. Come here first and then compare the rest.

Mousse

Pizzeria I Decumani (Intermediate B+), 58 Via dei Tribunali

There’s always a crowd waiting outside this popular pizzeria so I usually go elsewhere. I have had a Margherita to take away and it was fine but nothing out of the ordinary (B).

However one Sunday, with nowhere else on my hit list being open, I decided to queue for an indoor table. I was told the wait would be 20 minutes, but it was 40 minutes till I finally got to sit down.

Rather than pizza I decided to try their renowned Fritturine (vegetables fried in batter). if memory serves me correctly this involved stuffed courgette flowers (A), strips of courgette (A), pumpkin (A), eggplant (B), ‘tittoli’ (deep-fried polenta triangles) (B), plain ‘pizzelle’ (dough balls) (C), pizzelle with seaweed (B) and ‘arancini’ (rice balls) (B). They were all good but are really meant to be shared as it’s quite a hefty portion for one person.

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The service is friendly and efficient and the interior is new and modern but Decumani isn’t worth the wait in my opinion, despite its popularity. I’d prefer to go to Sorbillo instead if it’s open.

Pizzeria Di Matteo (Elementary B), 94 Via dei Tribunali, www.pizzeriadimatteo.com

A basic place with okay pizzas so there’s no reason not to try it. The reason they are so popular and famous however is just down to random luck. Back in 1996, President Clinton was in town for the G7 summit. As he was walking down Tribunali with his entourage he felt thirsty and asked his security to get him a coke. Di Matteo was the nearest shop. The media picked up on this so Di Matteo became known as the ‘pizzeria of the president’.

Di Matteo

In 1996 one of the brothers opened up his own pizzeria which he called ‘Dal Presidente’ (see next review) and in turn his son and daughter opened their own places nearby, respectively ‘Dal Figlio del Presidente’ and ‘Dal Figlia del Presidente’ (untried).

Once you’re inside, turn left onto the stuffy cramped downstairs then right and straight upstairs for the main room where you can sit beside an open window. It’s the usual paper tablecloths and plastic cup scenario, nothing special.

Di Matteo Bufalina DOC

As usual I wanted to do my taste test on their basic Margherita but they make them here with Fior di Latte rather than Mozzarella di Bufala (boo!). As I crave Mozzarella I went instead for the Bufalina DOC at €6 with cherry tomatoes instead of tomato sauce. It was okay but again you can get a bigger and better pizza for half the price up the road at Sorbrillo. One to come to when you can’t get in anywhere else.

Pizzeria del Presidente (Low Intermediate B-), 120 Via dei Tribunali, www.dalpresidentepizzeria.it

As mentioned above, this is run by the brother of the guy who owns Di Matteo, and it’s of a similar ilk. It’s undeniably popular as there’s always a crowd waiting outside but there are other places I prefer. They often have the radio on in the kitchen playing loud (but quite good) dance music so it’s not a place for a quiet meal.

Queue

I came once on Republic Day and there was a roadblock of people waiting to get in so I just ordered a takeout for €3 to devour folded up in quarters in a nearby square. It was ok (B-) but I don’t think they had the oven temperature quite right and the mozzarella hadn’t melted properly, although the underside was very well done.

I went again on another evening when it was less busy and managed to get a seat so I tried their Pizza Fritta which is too sloppy to take away.

You can choose the filling which can include provola, ricotta, cooked ham, ‘ciccoli’ (pork pieces rendered from lard), salami and tomato, and there’s also a sausage, provola and friarielli (broccoli rabe) option which I haven’t tried. Theirs is supposedly a good example of this genre of pizza but I felt it had very little flavour and it left me feeling a bit queasy if I’m honest (B-).

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I asked for a Limoncello to finish but was given a Meloncello instead, a bastard creation that I absolutely loath so I left it untouched (D). The waitress, otherwise very nice, still charged me for it and I couldn’t be bothered to dispute it.

Again, this pizzeria is fine, but given the quality of the competition, any of the other options on this street would be a better choice I think.

Naples – Centro Storico – Via Tribunali – Napoli Sotteranea

Posted in Campania, Centro Storico, Italy, Naples, Via Tribunali with tags on January 26, 2016 by gannet39

As you’re facing San Paolo Maggiore in Piazza San Gaetono you will see the entrance to Napoli Sotteranea just to the left of the church. In 2011 I paid €9 for a ninety minute tour of the ancient underground city.

Napoli Sotteranea, 68 Piazza San Gaetono, Tel. 081 296 944, www.napolisotterranea.org

Entrance

In the hot season it’s probably an idea to wear an extra layer as it can get cold down there, although it didn’t bother this Norwegian too much in May.

Tour by candlelight

The local volcanic rock Tufo is very easy to cut and build with so generations of builders hollowed out the earth underneath to build the city above. My guide told me that later concrete constructions have been known to collapse into the cavities below!

The original Greek aqueduct, later improved by the Romans, ran all the way from Mount Vesuvius and at 200km was the longest and oldest ever built in antiquity.

Dry aquaduct

It was still working up until 1844 when it was closed as a result of a cholera epidemic. Unfortunately the porous nature of Tufo allowed the disease to enter the water supply.

Still working aquaduct

You can still see water flowing into some of the ancient cisterns on the tour.

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Some of these galleries were later enlarged to be air raid shelters in WWII.

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The stairwell in this picture leads up to a convent several floors above.

Nuns staircase

Our guide Roberto also took us to see the remains of the Roman theatre, some of which were only rediscovered quite recently in the basements of nearby houses which were still being used on an everyday basis.

Roman theatre

The archaeologists pieced together the original layout by asking local residents if they could chip away the plaster on their walls and excavate their floors. Imagine your house having walls and foundations that are over two thousand years old!

This is the wall of the Roman theatre where the mad Emperor Nero used to perform.

Roman walls in perfect condition

In the pictures you can see the entrances both inside and outside a ‘basso’, the name for these typical Neapolitan ground floor abodes.

Modern entrance

Some people had trap doors under their beds that led to a whole city below!

Theatre in your wine cellar

I recommend the Sotteranea as an interesting and exciting experience. There was one claustrophobic moment squeezing through a long narrow tunnel but it wasn’t that bad and there’s an alternative route should you want to avoid that situation.

Naples – Centro Storico – Via Tribunali – Stuff to See

Posted in Campania, Centro Storico, Italy, Naples, Via Tribunali with tags , , , , , on January 25, 2016 by gannet39

Although originally laid down by the Greeks, Via dei Tribunali was the Decumanus Maximus or main east-west street of the later Roman city too. The parallel street, Spaccanapoli was the southern decumanus and Via Sapienza the northern decumanus (please see the separate posts for these streets).

These were traversed by the Cardo Maximus, running north-south, corresponding to Via Duomo today, and several smaller side streets known as cardini.

 

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At the eastern end of Via Tribunali is Castel Capuano, one of three castles in the city. In the 1500s the law courts were located in the castle, which is how Via Tribunali got its name.

Over the entrance you can see the double-headed eagles of the coat of arms of Charles 1st of Spain.

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Walking west from the castle you come to the tiny Piazza Sisto Riario Sforza which contains a ‘guglia’, a decorative obelisk, designed by the renowned Cosimo Fanzago and dedicated to San Gennaro the patron saint of Naples.

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It was the prototype for Fanzago’s other guglias in Piazza del Gesù Nuovo and Piazza San Domenico Maggiore. Behind the guglia at the back of the square is the south side of the cathedral.

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Further along Via Tribunali you soon come to Piazza Girolamini on the right. I love the overgrown façade of the church in the square, Chiesa del Girolamini.

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I also really like the old junk shop that has had a couple of locations in this square over the years. It’s always good for quirky photo ops.

Junk shop

 

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Just to the right of the entrance to the shop is an original Banksy, although who knows how long it will last given all the graffiti activity in the area (see my Centro Storico Street Art post).

 

 

About halfway along Via Tribunali you come to Piazza San Gaetano which was once the crossroads at the heart of the ancient city. The Greek Agora and Roman Forum were located here. You can see the some of the archaeological remains by taking an underground tour with Napoli Sotteraneo, the entrance to which is in the square (see Centro Storico Sotteraneo post).

San Gaetano

In Piazza San Gaetano itself, the only remains of these old buildings are the two Roman pillars incorporated into the facade of Chiesa di San Paolo Maggiore. You can see them either side of the church door in this picture (see my Churches in the Centro Storico post for pictures inside the church).

The statue of San Gaetano (pictured above) is another Cosimo Fazango creation.

Chiesa di San Paolo Maggiore

Also in the square is the Chiesa di San Lorenzo Maggiore which I think must be the parish church for the old town, also known as Quartiere San Lorenzo. Archaeologists have located the Roman forum under the church.

Running south out of the square is Via San Gregorio Armeno. Also known as ‘la strada dei presepi’ or ‘crib street’, it’s lined with the shops of artisans who make figures for the famous Christmas nativity scenes.

Tribunali cross street

About three quarters of the way along Tribunali you will see the campanile of Chiesa di Santa Maria Maggiore alla Pietrasanta.

 

And slightly further on the entrance to the music conservatory which has seen better days.

 

 

There’s lots more to say about Via Tribunali so please think of this post as a work in progress rather than a definitive guide.

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The street ends at Piazza Bellini where there are bars with outside terraces should you want a pit stop (separate post here). If you are feeling hungry there are several famous pizzerias along Tribunali (reviews here).

Naples – food shopping in the Centro Storico

Posted in Campania, Centro Storico, Italy, Naples on January 24, 2016 by gannet39

There are several good food shops in the old town, especially along Spaccanapoli (aka Via Benedetto Croce):

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Antiche Delizie, 14 Via Pasquale Scura (the western continuation of Spaccanapoli although technically it’s in the Pignasecca area).

A deli selling cheese, charcuterie, anti-pasti and wines. They are said to sell the best Mozzarella in town and on Fridays they sell Caprignetti, a herb-stuffed goat’s cheese.

Timpani & Tempura, 17 Vico Quercia (a small alley running north off the western end of Via Benedetto Croce).

A small deli selling pasta, cheese, wine and ‘timbali’ (baked tarts), including classics such as Paccheri in Piedi (ricotta and fior di latte cheeses with San Marzano tomatoes) and Sartu (rice, peas, provola, meat balls and chicken livers) that have their origin in 18th century Neapolitan court cuisine.

Eder, 44 Via Benedetto Croce.

A grocery store selling local pastas and other specialities which are attractively displayed on the outside of the shop.

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They used to sell multi-coloured packets of penis pasta for the titillation of tacky tourists, but they seem to have cleaned up their act of late. It’s hard to imagine anyone actually ate the stuff.

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Gay Odin, 61 Via Benedetto Croce, www.gay-odin.it

One of nine branches of this famous cioccolateria (see my Via Toledo food post for more details). As well as selling artisan chocolate products that make great gifts, this particular branch is reputed to be the best gelateria in town.

Gay Odin Cioccolateria

And along Via Tribunali…

Limone, Piazza San Gaetano (the square in front of Basilica di San Paolo Maggiore).

You can get free tastings of their organic limoncello which is made on site.

Lacryma Christi Enoteca, 12 Via San Pietro a Maiella (the western end of Tribunali).

The ‘Tears of Christ’ wine shop has an extensive selection of Italian wines and spirits. They are my second choice for wine shopping after L’Enoteca del Grottino below but first choice for spirits.

Tears of Christ booze shop

And along the eastern continuation of Via Sapienza…

L’Enoteca del Grottino, 17 Piazzetta San Giuseppe dei Ruffi (next to Via Duomo).

This enoteca has the best selection of Campanian wines that I know of in town. You can pick up your favourite wines for two or three times less than the price on restaurant menus. They also sometimes sell top quality linguine and spaghetti from Gragnano.

Naples – Centro Storico – Porta Capuana

Posted in Campania, Centro Storico, Italy, Naples, Porta Capuana with tags , on January 23, 2016 by gannet39

Porta Capuana is the ancient gate of the north-west road leading out of the old Roman city towards Capua. You’ll find it where Via Carbonara meets Via Casanova. I usually go through it on my way to Via Tribunali in the old town. Google map here.

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The area as you go through the gate seems to be a meeting place for different nationalities of maids on different days of the week. Sometimes I walk through and everyone is Russian and another day everyone is Filipino.

Through the arch there’s a decaying shrine to an old pope with plants growing out of it. It was being renovated when I last walked by in 2015.

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Across the street from the gate you can still see part of the old city wall and a tower which have been converted into homes.

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There’s a nice cake shop nearby…

Carraturo Pasticceria (A), 97 Via Cassanova (on the corner with Corso Garibaldi), www.carraturo.it

Carraturo

A famous pasticceria (since 1837) selling several varietes of Neopolitan cakes including the famous rum-soaked baba, which is more delicate here than elsewhere (B+).

Carraturo interior

They also sell both varieties of sfogliatelle; frolla (smooth) and ricci (‘curly’). If you’re lucky with your timing they’ll be hot out of the oven (B+).

Coffee and a frolla

In the day time I think you’ll get better hot sfogliatelle at Annatasio just down the road (see post on Garibaldi – places to eat) but this place is pretty good too.

I had a larger version here called a Coda di Arragosta (lobster tail). It was good but a bit too brittle in my humble opinion (B).

Coda di Aragosta

And it’s open until 9pm making it a good place for me to stop off for a digestivo on the way back to my hotel in Piazza Garibaldi.

Amaro

Naples – pizza fritta in Vicaria

Posted in Campania, Italy, Naples with tags , on January 22, 2016 by gannet39

Vicaria (also known as Vasto) is the area due north of Garibaldi station (see my Google map). It’s a grimy residential area with not a tourist in sight. The only reason to come here is for this excellent pizzeria…

Pellone (Low Intermediate A), 93 Via Nazionale, www.facebook.com/PizzeriaPellone

As this is one of the more well-known pizzerias in town amongst locals there’ll probably be a crowd outside in the evenings. Just give your name to the waiter at the door and wait to be called.

Many people purchase some deep-fried rustici or arancini from the cabinet on the pavement to eat while they’re waiting. If you’re by yourself you’ll probably have to share a table so you’ll get an opportunity to practice your Italian.

By all appearances the blokes working here are classic examples of gruff Neapolitan pizzeria waiters but don’t let that bother you, they’re okay guys really and will come and serve you when they’re good and ready.

There’s a wide choice of pizzas on the menu, all excellent and much bigger than elsewhere (made from 300g of dough rather than the more typical 250g). If you’re feeling brave, and hungry, you should try the Pizza Fritta for which Pellone is particularly famous.

It’s basically a huge deep-fried calzone with a filling of ricotta, provola, pepper and ‘ciccoli’, a kind of rendered pork (recipe for the latter here).

The pizza fritta is way too big for a single person to eat so if I don’t have someone to share it with I get the other half to take away (‘porta via’) and give it to one of the many people sleeping rough in Garibaldi station on the way back to my hotel.

Pellone is where Anthony Bourdain chose to eat pizza for the filming of the Naples edition of his No Reservations show (starts at 5.35).

Here’s a place it’s probably best to avoid:

Dalle Sorelle Vini & Cucina 1910 (Low Intermediate C), 1 Via Benedetto Cairoli, www.dallesorelle1910.it

I pass this place every time I’m on the bus to the airport and have often wondered whether it’s any good. It isn’t unfortunately, which is probably why I was the only customer on a week night.

They were a bit surprised and quite happy to see me so I received good service but sadly the cooking wasn’t up to much and I actually felt a bit queasy after I’d left. This was probably the fault of the provolone filled rustici (C-) but the oily Spaghetti alle Vongole wasn’t much better (C) and the house wine was pretty rough (C). I passed on a dessert.

They are very cheap though, as indicated by the ‘Vini & Cucina’ in their name, which puts them at the bottom of the restaurant hierarchy below ‘osteria’, ‘trattoria’ and ‘ristorante’. Vini & Cucina places can be great but not in this case unfortunately.

Naples – Mercato – places to eat around Piazza Garibaldi

Posted in Campania, Italy, Mercato, Naples, Zona Industriale with tags , , , , , , , on January 21, 2016 by gannet39

Technically Piazza Garibaldi is in the district known as the Zona Industriale but the area to the immediate south of the square, where many of these restaurants are located, is known as Mercato (despite there being no market!). See my other post on Garibaldi for a more general introduction to Naples.

For other places (mainly pizzerias) a short walk away (10/15mins) please see my posts on Forcella and Vicaria. Here’s my Google map of Naples to help you.

Trattora e Pizzeria Da Donato (Low Intermediate A), NEW ADDRESS: 41 Via Silvio Spaventa, GEM ALERT!

With your back to the station in Piazza Garibaldi turn down the third side street on the left (Cantina dei Mille is on the corner) and walk past La Brace and Avillenese (mentioned below). You’ll find Da Donato on the right.

Da Donato currently ranks at #17 on Trip Advisor (in March 2015) and is consequently very busy, so it’s pretty essential to book in the evenings or you won’t get in. I didn’t have a reservation the first time I went but as I’d arrived exactly when they opened at 7.30 they let me eat on the promise I would finish in 30 mins. I took 45 and they were ok about it.

I recommend starting with the Bruschetta Al Fantasia, four olive-oil doused pieces of toast topped with bitter friarelli (B), roasted peppers (A), fried button mushrooms (A) and fennel, the latter being the nicest preparation I’ve ever tasted for that vegetable (A+). I’d love to know their secret.

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For the pasta course, Spaghetti alla Scoglio (pasta with clams and mussels) is a good choice (B).

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Or the Paccheri Ragu e Ricotta is also nice (B).

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You could follow this with Frittura di Alici (B+), battered, deep-fried anchovies served in brown paper cones, as is the local habit. Maybe get a green salad to go with it.

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Their house white is pretty good for what it is (A) and their Greco di Tufo from Donnahiara is not bad (B) for €15. However their limoncello could do with being chilled a bit more (B). They also have Amaro di Capo from Calabria, which is my favourite bitter digestivo (A).

Three courses with wine and digestivos comes in at only €30 for one, which is an absolute steal. A place I return to time and time again.

Mimi alla Ferrovia (Intermediate A+), 19-21 Via A.D’Aragona, www.mimiallaferrovia.it, Tel. 081 553 8525.

With your back to the train station, go to the far right hand corner of the square and turn right at the Argo porn cinema (!) It’s down the side street, on the left, hidden behind some potted bushes. Be warned this is an area where prostitutes hang around on the street.

In my opinion this is the best mid-range place to eat around the square although it’s a little hard to find. It’s a famous formal Neapolitan restaurant visited by many celebrities over the years as the pictures on the wall attest.

To start I recommend the ‘Antipasti alla Mimi’ which on this occasion (it can vary) involved a ball of mozzarella (A) and a small soft ricotta cheese with a cherry tomato ‘jam’ (A+) and…

Ricotta

…varius kinds of deep-fried rustici; ricotta with ham, bianchetti (whitebait) (A), deep fried pepperoni with cheese and a small slab of Parmagiana (B+).

Whitebait and ricotta rustici

I love their signature dish ‘Linguine alla Mimi’ (A). It can contain up to ten types of bivalves and crustaceans depending on what’s available from the Porta Nolana market down the road. It wasn’t on the menu last time I went but they’ll make it if you ask them.

Linguine alla Mimi

Drinks wise they have a great range of floral Campanian whites, the best I’ve had being a 2009 Cutizzi Riserva Greco di Tufo from Fuedi di San Gregorio (A+).

Great greco di tufo

The house wines are also good (B) and they have great limoncello which is made by one of the waiters (A), but the coffee is terrible (C).

Limoncello

The waiters are very dry (my old friend Luciano especially) but not downright rude which is unusual for Naples! Michele the proprietor is quite frosty however his son Salvatore speaks English and is more gregarious. Two people can eat and drink well here for about €35 each.

Antico Forno delle Fratelli Attanasio (Elementary A) Vico Ferrovia, www.sfogliatelleattanasio.it GEM ALERT!

Attanasio

Vico Ferrovia is the immediate first left off Via Milano, which is the 3rd right off Piazza Garibaldi with your back to the station. Pay first and take a number if it’s busy.

hot from the oven

This bakery is a good place for a sweet if you don’t fancy an ice cream; you can get a Sfogliatelle Caldo straight from the oven (€1.10). I usually come here in the day time for my dessert after a lunchtime pizza at Trianon or Michele (see my Forcella post) but they are open in the evenings till 19.30 as well (closed Monday).

Filled with ricotta cream, Sfogliatelli Frolla (smooth and round) or Ricci (rippled and in the shape of a shell) are famous symbols of the city and can be found in pastry shops all over the country. Both varieties have the same ingredients but the more popular ricci are crunchier and flakier.

Salsamenteria (Intermediate B), 79 Via Firenze

This salumeria has a good range of local products.

Salumeria

On one occasion I took home a small Provolone cheese from Sorrento, a spicy Neapolitan salami, some balsamic pickled onions, a tin of best quality Ventresca and two tins of ordinary good quality tuna and a packet of Paccheri di Gragnano, a Campanian town reputed for its pasta.

Shopping

However be warned they could sell sand to Arabs here so don’t let them push you into buying anything you don’t want. I once ended up with half a huge Casatiello when all I did was put my head in for a look. They were more restrained on my last visit though.

However there are also a few places around the square that I think are quite average, or worse…

Cantina de Mille (Elementary C), 1 Via Silvio Spaventa

Third left off the square with your back to the station, on the corner with the square.

The staff are friendly but I think the food can be pretty variable (it scored a C for me last time I went in 2008). However if you order well I’m sure it’s fine. The menu makes for hilarious reading (‘fingered lobster’ anyone?). Don´t think you can go wrong with a pizza here.

La Brace (Elementary C+), 14 Via Silvio Spaventa

When I went with colleagues in 2008 we got large portions of average fare at a fairly reasonable price e.g. €10 for a huge plate of seafood linguine. It has a terrace outside so you can eat al fresco. The service is a bit brusque but seems to mellow if you make the effort to speak Italian. Lots of locals which is usually a good sign. Pizzas are available too.

Ristorante Avellinese (Elementary C-), 31-35 Via Silvio Spaventa

Definitely one to avoid after my last experience in 2011. I’ve eaten here a couple of times but I should have known better really with all the prices around €4/5 for each dish in an area full of tourist hotels. They don’t even stock Fiano di Avelllino, the famous wine from the town the restaurant is named after. The €7 white Trebbiano d’Abruzzo, was drinkable (C) but the waiter expected me to drink it lukewarm till I asked for an ice bucket.

I started with the Saute di Frutti di Mare but couldn’t eat it (D). The clams and mussels were tiny, tasteless, grey in colour and hadn’t been scrubbed properly. No excuse really when there’s a great market selling high quality seafood just a few streets away. For the pasta course I kept it as simple as possible by ordering Spaghetti al Pomodoro which they couldn’t really get wrong (B). The following grilled pork was ok (C) but I bent the cheap cutlery cutting it up. I could only eat a few of the mealy chips that I ordered on the side (D+).

I bought a grappa to cheer myself up at the end but that was also one of the worst I’ve ever had and I had to leave it. At least they had the grace to not charge me for the clams. I only paid €18 for the lot which ultimately is hard to argue with. However, don’t come here if you care about eating well.

Hotel Cavour (Intermediate B-), 32 Piazza Garibaldi, on the corner with Corso Garibaldi. The green sign on the roof is easy to spot.

I saw this hotel restaurant recommended in an Italian food guide so gave it a whirl in 2008. They do a three-course Menu del Giorno for €14 which is good value. I had a vegetable risotto (B), pork cutlet (C) with chips (B) and a panacotta to finish (B). A fairly ropey house red was €10 (C). The decor is horrible and the maitre d was an absolute tyrant, stalking the tables and speaking to customers in a very loud voice. He even told me that he charges French people more! The food is fine if you’re not too fussy.

Reviews written in June 2011 and March 2015.

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