Worth getting out of bed for...
- Hop on a tour bus to the top of Vesuvius, less than an hour away, for sweeping views of the Gulf of Naples from more than 1,000 metres above. Local guides lead walking tours, and bus excursions are run by Vesuvio Express (+39 081 739 3666).
- Arts and culture
- The magnificent Pompeii is a must-see, and only about 40 minutes by either car or train, on the Circumvesuviana line (www.vesuviana.it). Expect some of the finest Roman ruins, in outstanding condition. It’s not only truly epic, you’ll also get a real insight into local life back pre-eruption in 79AD. Even the etchings on the wall of the Lupanar (brothel) are still intact. Back in the city, don’t miss the Museo Archeologico Nazionale’s significant collection of ancient Greek and Roman artefacts (museoarcheologiconazionale.campaniabeniculturali.it).
- Something for nothing
- Stand in Piazza del Plebiscito with your back to the Palazzo Reale, close your eyes and try to walk between the two bronze horses. It sounds simple, but the slight camber of the square may scupper your plans.
- Whatever the time of year, you’ll be able to pick up presepi, nativity scenes in ornament form, ranging from the shepherds to half of the census. Artisans crafting these can be found along the Spaccanapoli, especially on Via dei Tribulani, Via Benedetto Croce and their side streets. For gold and other jewellery, head to Via San Bagio dei Librai. The main high streets are Via Toledo and Via Roma; high-end boutiques can be found in Santa Lucia. The hectic street market on Via Pignasecca is one of the oldest in the city: stock up on fresh fish, cheese and bread between 8am and 1pm daily. The Forcella street market between Piazza Garibaldi and Corso Umberto sells almost anything, from 9am to 12 noon daily.
- Board a boat from the Port of Naples over to Capri: shop in the fair isle’s mini-Milan of shopping streets, swim in hidden coves and hike up Mount Solaro (or take the chairlift from Piazza della Vittoria in Anacapri). Dine at the elegant L’Olivo: Capri’s only Michelin-starred restaurant, at the Capri Palace Hotel & Spa on Via Capodimonte, is open daily for lunch and dinner (www.capripalace.com).
- Stroll the Via San Biagio, known locally as ‘Spaccanapoli’ or ‘Naples splitter’ – the main street that divides Naples, in the middle of the historic quarter. You’ll take in many of the city’s most important churches and buildings (and several shops) as you wend the narrow old streets, once the heart of Neapolis.
- Little Smiths will love clambering over ancient Roman ruins in Pompeii or checking out the interactive displays at the Museo Nazionale della Scienza on Via San Vittore (www.museoscienza.org). Solfatara, a shallow volcanic crater, is popular with visitors of all ages for its bubbling mud pits and jets of steam: tours are available, or you can hike the site independently. Take the metro to the Pozzuoli-Solfatara station, or jump on the 152 bus from Piazza Garibaldi (www.solfatara.it).
- Sugary treats are a big deal in Naples. Sweet-toothed visitors should make a pilgrimage to Scaturchio on Piazza San Domenico, which has been serving classic cakes and pastries since 1905 (www.scaturchio.it), or pick up inspired chocolate creations at Gay-Odin on Via Vetriera (www.gay-odin.it).
- Caravaggio fled to Naples in 1606 after killing a man in Rome (in what’s said to have been an attempted castration). The city still is home to several works he painted there: admire the intricate Seven Acts of Mercy in the Pio Monte della Misericordia.
January Piazza del Plebiscito hosts Naples’ Epiphany celebrations on the 6th, where La Befana — a sort of Christmassy witch — appears in the square to dish out gifts to the good children and lumps of charcoal to the bad ones. On the 17th, witness O Cippo di Sant’ Antonio: Neapolitans dispose of their unwanted belongings in bonfires on the streets and piazzas. May The city’s most revered patron saint (San Gennaro) is honoured on the first Saturday of the month – crowds gather at the Duomo to watch his preserved blood ‘liquify’, which is also said to happen on 19 September and 16 December. Also this month, Maggio dei Monumenti is a calendar of free events, including concerts, exhibitions and the opening of monuments that are usually closed to the public (www.comune.napoli.it). July On the 16th, celebrate Santa Maria del Carmine on the piazza bearing her name, with a feast day that ends in a grand fireworks display. Mid-October The 6-day Naples film festival, launched in 1995, showcases films shot locally as well as independent productions from throughout Europe. The annual awards ceremony is accompanied by screenings at Castel Sant ‘Elmo (www.napolifilmfestival.com).