NAPLES AND VOLCANOESJuly 03, 2012
If you are looking to experience an intense and authentic insight into Italian culture, I would highly recommend giving Naples a visit as it's more off the beaten track than some of the other more popular destinations in Italy. Naples is scattered with wonderful ancient ruins including Pompeii and is home to Mount Vesuvius, for which it is best known for.
Although I didn't make it to Mount Vesuvius during my visit to Naples, I did go to volcano Salfratara in Pozzuoli where you can walk around within its volcanic crater. If you happen to be visiting the volcano around noon the glare of the midday sun along with the heated volcanic rock underfoot can make for an excruciatingly hot experience, so be sure to bring some water and sunscreen of you do intend to visit it.
The volcanic activity can be witnesses firsthand with boiling puddles of sulphuric mud and steaming air vents. The unmistakable acrid stench of sulphur is omnipresent.
Naples city isn't particularly glitzy or modernised which means that largely its true Italian identity has been preserved. It's located by the water so there's an abundance of quaint places to dine alfresco with a beautiful sea view.
Naples is a great destination for foodies as it's home to a lot of Italy's most recognised dishes, including the pizza! There are a plethora of pizzerias scattered around so you will never be far from one. Having an authentic handmade pizza fresh from a stone pizza oven is an absolute game-changer.
Neapolitan coffee has a reputation for being incredibly strong and bitter and many people choose to have theirs with sugar to soften the edge. Italian coffee culture is enshrined within the country's way of life and espresso is commonly consumed as a morning pick-me-up or after a meal in a social setting.
One of my favourite things about Italy is the fact that there are gelato (Italian for ice cream) stores on almost every street corner. Gelato tends to be slightly denser and has less added air than standard ice cream which results in a richer, creamier taste. Naples happens to be the home of the famous Neapolitan gelato.
Be it the hot Mediterranean weather, the dramatic volcanic landforms or simply just the pizza and gelato; Naples is well worth a visit if you are looking to get a slice of what Italy has to offer.