“One can’t blame the Neapolitan for never wanting to leave his city, nor its poets singing its praises in lofty hyperboles: it would be wonderful even if a few more Vesuviuses were to rise in the neighborhood”. Thus wrote German writer and poet Wolfgang Goethe in 1787, about his stay in what is today Italy’s third-largest city.
Naples is a unique hybrid city, reminding you at each corner of its many rulers. At times resembling a Moroccan souk, with its dark and narrow streets, at times disguised as Spanish, Greek, and of course Roman, Naples is a concoction of commoner soul mixed with elitist air and a somewhat regal attitude. And it has so much to be seen. For centuries, its people have bestowed their magnificent churches and piazzas with attention and riches, royalty of several great houses of Europe have adorned its palaces.
The city center, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site, dates back to 470 B.C. and has many incredible attractions, among which three enormous castles, and again more churches and cathedrals than you could ever imagine. Naples also is home to one of the world’s finest archaeological museums; however, if you wish to see some of Europe’s best archeological sites with your own eyes, Pompeii and Herculaneum are just a few miles southwards.
But when in Naples, admire its colors, which here seem brighter, observe its unique people flowing down the busy streets – Neapolitans act as they live and live as they act – taste some of the best street food and pizza. You are more likely to witness and experience real Italy here than anywhere else. As people say, “Rome is the heart of Italy, but Naples is the soul of Italy.”
“If in Rome one can readily set oneself to study, (in Naples) one can do nothing but live. You forget yourself and the world” – Goethe wrote in his diaries. Naples and Italy made such an impression on the poet, that he returned to Germany a changed man. Among his circle of friends, many looked at him with suspicion and disapproval. He discovered that truly coming home is impossible, as it is us and how we look out at the world to be forever changed.
Nicoletta Lucia Paganucci