Archive for the San Ferdinando Category

Naples – San Ferdinando – Borgo Marinari & Castel dell’ Ovo

Posted in Borgo Marinari, Campania, Castel dell’ Ovo, Italy, Naples, San Ferdinando with tags , , , on January 16, 2016 by gannet39

Walking from Piazza del Plebiscito the first sight you’ll come to is the wonderful 17th century Fontana dell’ Immacolatella on Passaggio Castel dell’Ovo.


It was originally located outside the Royal Palace, near a huge statue, and for this reason it’s also called Fontana del Gigante.

My favourite feature is the two walrus-like creatures immediately below the central fountain.


Soon after the fountain you’ll come to Castel dell’ Ovo, the second of the three castles in the city.


Entrance is free so it’s worth popping in if you’re passing, if only for the great views of nearby Chiaia to the west…


… and Vesuvius to the east, looking over the sea.


Built by the Normans in the 12th century, it’s the oldest castle in the city.

Legend has it that this rocky promontory was where the siren Parthenope was washed ashore. This was actually the location of the orginal Greek settlement, which took its name from her.

I didn’t get a good shot of the whole castle but these photos from the web will give you the idea.

Sitting below it’s walls is the Borgo Marinari, or ‘sailor’s village’ which is now a marina

All the buildings here have been converted into restaurants, several of which have outdoor terraces. There’s a very romantic atmosphere, especially at night.

Unfortunately it’s a tout infested tourist trap but it’s understandable people why people would want to go there when you have a view like this from your table.


According to Lonely Planet, locals do rate Trattoria Castel dell’ Ovo at 28 Via Luculliana as being a good and relatively inexpensive place to go but unfortunately it seems to have changed hands now and is called something else. It might still be okay but I haven’t tried it as I couldn’t get in. Reservations are required for all these places, especially Sunday lunch.


Naples – San Ferdinando – restaurants off Via Chiaia

Posted in Campania, Italy, Naples, San Ferdinando, Via Chiaia with tags on January 14, 2016 by gannet39

Carrying on from Via Toledo, Via Chiaia is one of the principal shopping streets in Naples. The restaurants start to get more upmarket around here.

Pizzeria Brandi (Intermediate B), 1/2 Salita Sant’Anna di Palazzo (first right going up Via Chiaia from Piazza Trieste e Trento),


A very famous pizzeria due to the fact that the chef who invented Pizza Margherita worked here. In 1889 chef Raffaele Esposito was invited to court to make a special new pizza for Queen Margherita. She liked it so much that he named his creation in honour of her.

Home of the Margherita

He used red tomatoes, white mozzarella and green basil to represent the colours of the Italian flag. It is claimed he was the first person to add cheese but other local pizzaiolos contend the combination existed in Naples before him.


President Clinton also ate here on his visit.

Personally I think it’s an overpriced tourist trap and you can get better pizza elsewhere, but it’s an experience I suppose and the atmosphere is quite nice. They are a restaurant too so you can get other kinds of food.

Kukai Nibu (Intermediate B-), 52 Via Carlo de Cesare, Tel. 081 411 905,

This is a modern trendy and relatively authentic Japanese sushi bar, which makes a refreshing change when you get tired of just eating Italian grub.


I had some excellent edamame (fresh salted soya beans which you pop out of the pod straight into your mouth.


The nigiri is pretty good and quite reasonable. I had salmon, squid and toro (belly tuna, the best cut), although the soya sauce was not kikkoman (essential as far as I’m concerned).

I also had some tempura which was well made but came with a miniscule dipping bowl too small to fit the tempura in, and strangely some salt. It should also come with some grated daikon (giant radish or mooli) but the kitchen was unable to supply it, strange given the number of Chinese people there are here.

They stock my favourite Japanese beer, Sapporo Black Label, which can be hard to get hold of even in Japan.

Naples 2011 480

With some miso suru (soup made with bean paste, tofu and kelp) and two tiny bowls of plain rice to fill me up the bill came to €42.

Jorudan Sushi in Vomero is better but this place is easier to get to. It’s very popular so it’s best to reserve.


Naples – San Ferdinando – Piazza Plebiscito

Posted in Campania, Italy, Naples, Piazza Plebiscito, Piazza Trieste & Trento, San Ferdinando with tags , , on January 13, 2016 by gannet39

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.

Piazza Plebiscito sunset

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.

Piazza Plebiscito

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, 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

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.

Naples – San Ferdinando – Via Toledo – food stops

Posted in Campania, Italy, Naples, San Ferdinando, Via Toledo with tags , , on January 12, 2016 by gannet39

Just to the right of the entrance to Galleria Umberto, at 214 Via Toledo, is the wonderfully named Cioccolateria Gay Odin where you can buy beautifully presented chocolates for your loved ones at home.

Gay Odin

They’ll even let you try a few before choosing what you want for your selection box.

Patriotic sweets

My favourite take home item is the Vesuvio, a small chocolate volcano that comes in its own special box.

Chocolate  vesuvius

They also sell bars in beautiful wrappers.

Sugar free chocolate

The company was founded by Isidore Odin who fell in love with his assistant, Onorina Gay.

Chocolate moulds

There have a few other branches around the city including one at 427 Via Toledo (near Piazza Dante) which sells ice cream that’s reputed to be the best in the city. They also have a museum at 12 Via Vetriera.


Another must visit for the sweet of tooth is Pintauro at 275 Via Toledo. In the early 1800s this shop was the first in the city to sell sfogliatelle, a pastry filled with vanilla custard and dusted with icing sugar that has become a symbol of the city. If you’re lucky they’ll still be hot from the oven.

In terms of eating there are heaps of places on the side streets off Via Toledo, a handful of which are okay (please see my post on the Spanish Quarter). However as a general rule of thumb, it’s probably a good idea to avoid anywhere that has a big sign and is easy to find as it’s probably a tourist trap with food that’s below par.

If you’re feeling flush however you could try this place:

Ciro (Advanced A-) 71/73 Via Santa Brigida, (down the side of the Galleria Umberto),


Ciro won’t be easy on your wallet as it’s very famous, posh and popular and has an extensive seafood menu and wine list. I wasn’t really dressed for the occasion (jeans, trainers) and I got a frosty reception from the maitre d, although my waiter was a nice chap.

I had an amazing Capretto al Forno con Patate (roast lamb with spuds) for a reasonable €14. However I got stung €8 for a grappa here, albeit a riserva.

The moral of the tale is to always ask how much something costs in Naples before accepting suggestions.

At the far end of Via Toledo you will come to Piazza Trieste e Trento and then Piazza Plebiscito, more of which in the next post.

Naples – San Ferdinando – Via Toledo – things to see

Posted in Campania, Italy, Naples, San Ferdinando, Via Toledo with tags , on January 11, 2016 by gannet39

From Piazza Dante you can walk down Via Toledo which is the main shopping street in Naples. I’ve written two posts about this road, the following one about food and this one about things to see.

Galleria Umberto

At one end is the Galleria Umberto, a beautiful glass domed shopping centre built in 1887, which copies elements of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele in Milan, that in turn was influenced by the historic glass and metal arcades of Paris.

Galleria Umberto roof

It was under renovation for many years but now fully restored, it’s full of posh shops once again. Even if you’re not buying, you should definitely stop in to admire the ornate decoration and the beautiful roof.


I particularly like the metal angels on the roof struts.


A lasting memory is of a group of kids using the smooth expanse of the floor for an opportunistic game of football, before they were chased off by the security (this is a football-mad city with no green spaces).

At 185 Via Toledo, a few doors down from the Galleria, is Palazzo Zevallos Stigliano built in 1639. Once the family home of a rich Spanish merchant, it’s now an art gallery under the patronage of a national bank.

The ground floor is a bit gloomy but the glowing gold decoration on the walls of the main staircase, dating from 1832, is simply stunning.


The ceiling depicts the poetess Sappho and the god Apollo sitting on clouds in a golden sky with the figures of the Muses in the background, framed by a gilded cornice.


Various rooms contain beautiful sculptures…


…and paintings by Neapolitan artists, which occasionally can be quite gruesome.


I was enticed in by an exhibition of WW1 propaganda posters called ‘La Grande Guerra’; neoclassical art married with the brutal images of war.


Please see my next post for food shops and restaurants along Via Toledo.

Naples – San Ferdinando – Piazza Municipio & Castel Nuovo

Posted in Campania, Castel Nuovo, Italy, Naples, Piazza Municipio, San Ferdinando with tags , , on June 18, 2011 by gannet39

tThe Castel Nuovo, also known as the Maschio Angioino, was built in just three years, starting in 1279 when the capital of the Kingdom of Naples was moved from Palermo.

There have been many additions by later residents since of course. The white triumphal arch was added by Catalan architects in 1442 during the period of the Aragonese kings.

Click on these pics for a full screen slideshow.

There’s not a lot else to see and do around here but there are a couple of good mid-range restaurants near the castle. However only one is probably worth eating at:

A Taverna do Re (Intermediate A-), Fondo Supportico di Separazione, an alley off Piazza Municipio, Tel. 0815522424, open Sunday

Came here for a Sunday lunch and was taken care of by the friendly Massimo. It’s a nice enough spot down a side alley opposite the Castle Nuovo which will be much nicer when they finish building the new metro station in the square.

Feeling in the mood for a long lunch with several courses I turned straight to the tasting menus. The meat option Menu di Vesuvio (meat) for €34 sounded good but I opted for the €39 seafood Menu di Golfo di Napoli.

To start a small bruschetta of salted anchovy and cherry tomatoes (B).

After this came a seafood salad of squid, octopus and prawns. The octopus was some of the nicest I’ve eaten; soft, creamy and delicate (A).

Seafood salad
For the pasta course;  Spaghetti alle Vongole e Cozze which was good (B+) but it worried me that not all the barnacles  had been scrubbed off and a couple of the mussels hadn’t opened but that’s probably me being too fussy.

Spaghetti alle Vongole e Cozze
For the main; a delicious half of grilled squid, albeit slightly on the small side with a mixed salad to one side, good already but made more interesting with the addition of a little fresh mint (A).

Grilled squid

With this Massimo recommended the fruity dry white Lacryma Christi di Vesuvio 2009, (Coda di Volpe grapes) from Mastoberardino,  a very famous Campanian cantina, which was very good (A) and quite reasonable for €15.

Finally a slice of cake, which was a combination of sponge, biscuit and egg custard cream with strawberries which tasted fine (B) but didn’t hang together very well. A chilled limoncello was essential accompaniment, and it was a good one (A) and came for free. With an IVA surcharge of 10% the total bill came to €57 which is a bit on the expensive side. I enjoyed myself though so I didn’t mind to much.


Although it’s nice to sit outside, this is the kind of place that is likely to attract an accordion player (I hate music while I’m eating unless it’s in the background) and the hat vendors that share the alley didn’t seem able to speak to each other without bellowing (a particularly Neapolitan habit).

Massimo was very good but had to do everything himself as his hapless sidekick didn’t seem capable of even filling an ice bucket and ran away to get his boss every time I tried to ask him something. I know my Italian isn’t great, but it’s not that bad. As a believer in the adage that you should never trust a thin chef I can report that the chef is nice and fat but doesn’t look particularly trustworthy. Having said that, about two thirds of the customers were locals which is always a good sign.

This is a nice place to come to after visiting the castle nearby but probably not worth going out of your way for unless you can’t find anywhere else on a Sunday.

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