Travel


Naples makes an indulgent winter



Naples sprawls across a crumple of hills, and tumbles down to the corrugated shoreline. With a population of about a million people, all crammed into a tangle of streets, the city can seem daunting, but a mosaic of neighbourhoods makes it manageable.

Take a hike
Start a circuit of the Centro Storico at the tourist office at the Piazza del Gesù, dominated by the austere Basilica di Santa Chiara. The tiled cloisters preserve a garden in the city (9am-5.30pm daily, Sundays 10am-2.30pm; €6). Walk east along Via Benedetto Croce, past the Piazza San Domenico. Pause for a coffee at the Piazzetta Nilo – home to the Bar Nilo whose wall is a shrine to ex-Napoli player Diego Maradona.

The narrow street becomes the Via San Biagio dei Librai, lined with shops selling crafts and curios – many made in the workshops along Via San Gregorio Armeno.
Go left along the unlikely-looking Vico Zuroli and you emerge next to the Pio Monte della Misericordia at Via dei Tribunali 253 (9am-2pm daily except Weds). This Baroque church houses Caravaggio's Seven Acts of Mercy, which you should witness both from the floor of the church and the palazzo of which it is part (included in the €6 entry fee).

On the other side of Via dei Tribunali, the Duomo cathedral echoes with a history dating from the 4th century (duomodinapoli.com). Two glass vials filled with the dried blood of the city's patron saint, San Gennaro, are kept here. Go down Via dei Tribunali and see how far you can make it before giving in to the temptations of pizza in the city that invented it.

Lunch on the run

The city's most popular venue is the Pizzeria Di Matteo at Via dei Tribunali 94. For a historic alternative, continue along the street and through the arch. Immediately on the other side is Port'Alba, which claims to be the oldest pizzeria in the world. A marinara (topped with tomato, basil, oregano and olive oil) costs €4.

Window shopping
The Port'Alba is full of booksellers as it winds down to Piazza Dante, from which you can follow the store-lined Via Toledo towards the cathedral-like Galleria Umberto, with an elaborate marbled floor and upmarket shops selling fashion and trinkets.

Dining with the locals
Tucked away at Via Solitaria 18,  the Trattoria da Peppino makes you feel you have stumbled upon the  only restaurant in a southern Italian village – with a warm welcome, homely surroundings and prices on the menu that rarely get beyond €4 – the going rate for pasta in a thick chickpea sauce, just the thing for a winter night. North of the station at the other end of town, a couple can easily dine for €20 including drinks at the Pizzeria Pellone at Via Nazionale 93.

Take a view

The original Greek settlement of Neapolis, from which Naples takes its name, stood on the thumb of land jutting offshore from the city centre – and now supporting the Castel dell'Ovo, " Castle of the Egg". Walk up the ramps, or take the lift, for some formidable city views.

A walk in the park

Green space is at a premium in Naples, with the waterfront providing an alternative source of fresh air. Combine the two in the Villa Comunale, a shoreline park decorated with sculpture.

Go to church
The sculptures continue inside the most bombastic church in Naples: the Basilica Reale di San Francesco di Paola, which dominates the Piazza del Plebiscito. Outside, curving colonnades mimic St Peter's in Rome, while inside the church is a Neoclassical copy of the Pantheon.

For a true original, visit the Cappella Sansevero at Via de Sanctis 19 (museosansevero.it), where you'll find Giuseppe Sanmartino's miraculously sculpted Cristo Velato. On Sundays, it opens 10am to 1.10pm; 10am to 5.40pm on other days (closed Tuesdays); entry €7.

Cultural afternoon
The Museo Archeologico Nazionale (bit.ly/NapArch; 9am to 7.30pm except  Tuesdays; €8) is slightly emptier than usual, with some of its collection en route to the British Museum. But there are still hundreds of fascinating relics from Pompeii and Herculaneum, not least the magnificent Toro Farnese, carved from a single marble block. On the mezzanine, you can see mosaics that were buried in the volcanic disaster of AD79.

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