Why You Should Visit Naples, Italy
The name Naples, Napoli in Italian, originated from the ancient Green name Neapolis which means new city. The Greeks first established the city and inhabited the region before Roman times. Now, thousands of years later, Naples attracts travelers from around the world with its unique charm and history. The pizza isn’t the only reason to visit this ancient city. Here are a few pointers to prepare for your trip to Naples before you start searching budget flight.
Pompeii and Herculenium
In 79 A.D., the majestic Mount Vesuvius spouted hot pyroclastic materials into the air. The whole region of Campania, where the volcano was located, disappeared from the surface, completely. It was so hot, so fast; people couldn’t get out from the disaster. Pompeii and Herculaneum are two of the popular sites where you can observe how people lived back then. The sites that have been buried for almost two thousand years were so deep, the buildings’ original splendor was protected, and even food. Pompeii has been a tourist destination for over 250 years. Today it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the most popular tourist attractions of Italy. You can reach both places by the regional train. Plan one full day to enjoy the spectacular scenery and historic artifacts.
The National Archeological Museum in Naples is a great place to visit before heading to Herculaneum or Pompeii to understand the background history. It is one of the earliest established museums in Europe, in a monumental building from the late eighteenth century. It holds the richest and most valuable collection of art and artifacts of Italy. The artifacts were found in the Campania region and moved to this museum. The quality of artifacts is nearly perfect. These people lived here more than 2,000 years ago, but amazingly they thought similar to us in the 21st century. They had markets to buy and sell food, there were scholars, architects and an army, and they cared about art. The world’s oldest profession also existed back then. They used letters, numbers, money, and drawings to communicate. The museum also houses many of the artifacts from Greek and Renaissance periods.
You can’t leave Naples without trying Neapolitan pizza. They make it with ingredients like tomatoes grown on the volcanic plains to the south of Mount Vesuvius, and mozzarella di bufala made with the milk from water buffalo raised in the marshlands of Campania, fresh basil, and extra virgin olive oil. It is more famously known as Margherita pizza, which is named after Queen Margherita after her visit to the city. Neapolitan pizza was safeguarded in the European Union as a Traditional Specialty Guaranteed dish. In Naples, everyone makes decent pizza.
Naples is well-known for its sweet dishes, including fruit-based gelato (sorbet). Popular Neapolitan pastry dishes include zeppole, babà and sfogliatelle. Sfogliatelle are shell-shaped pastries filled with ricotta cheese, almond paste, and citrus peel. The name literally means thin leaves or layers that resembles texture of the pastry. Babà was invented in France then brought to Naples, and became a popular Neapolitan specialty. Zeppole is a deep-fried dough ball.
Just like any other Italian city, Naples has a long history. In fact, it is one of the oldest continuously-inhabited cities in the world. Centro Storico, historic center of Naples, looks complex but it is an excellent place to feel the vibe of this ancient city. Walking is one of the best ways to explore European cities, and it certainly is in Naples. Through the hustle and bustle of street markets and scooters, you’ll find the real Naples. The historic center was built in several layers of one period over the other, and it is the main tourist attraction. There are a number of souvenir shops and street vendors to help your shopping. But more importantly, there are exquisite pizzerias, pastry shops, and baroque churches between old buildings.
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