Archive for the Via Tribunali Category

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,

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.


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.


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.


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,

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,

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.


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-).


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,


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.

Naples 2011 506

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

Naples 2011 502

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.



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.


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.


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.



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.




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



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.


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).

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