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Trip Report Trip report - Naples, Ischia & Amalfi Coast

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I'll try not to make this too long, and just list what I think may be useful ' any questions about specific topics welcome, though. May have to wax lyrical about eating experiences in parts, though :-)

I should perhaps start by saying that we are fairly lazy people ! We are interested in seeing sights but not in getting up early to pack in the maximum amount ' it is a holiday, after all. We spent one week each in Naples, Ischia & on the Amalfi Coast (near Positano). We've been to Campania a few times before, but this was our first visit to Naples & Ischia. The idea was to start off with a busy (for us) week, then have a medium-ish week, & wind up with a week of doing nothing.

Naples, May 27-June 3

Getting there : flew to Naples airport, got express bus which only stops at Piazza Garibaldi & Piazza Municipio, €3. From Piazza Municipio it was only a 5 minute walk to our hotel. All very easy.

Hotel : we were very pleased with the Hotel Executive, which was very conveniently placed for walking round the Centro Storico, catching buses (most stop at via Medina, just round the corner) & a 10 minute walk from both the main ferry port (Molo Beverello) & the Teatro San Carlo. The room (superior, €114 pn) wasn't large or fancy but was pleasant enough. Nice roof terrace, friendly staff. Booked through Venere.

We saw 'Otello' at the Teatro San Carlo. Very trad production, theatre very hot (no ac !) but it was nice to go out into the palace gardens during the intervals. Booked through in December - good seats (apart from the fact DH had to sit sideways), €80 per head including booking fee.

Sights seen ' Castel Nuovo; Catacombe di San Gennaro; the Duomo including baptistry & excavations; church & gallery of Pio Monte della Misercordia; church of San Lorenzo Maggiore including excavations; churches of Gesu Nuovo, San Domenico Maggiore, Madre Incoronata del Buon Consiglio; Capella Sansevero; Museo Nazionale Archeologico; Museo di Capodimonte; Museo d'Arte Contemporanea Dionna Regina (MADRE); trail of contemporary art at metro stations; via Pignasecca market; Parco della Floridiana. Plus general strolling, of course. Didn't tour the Castel Elmo or Certosa-Museo San Martino as they'd changed the closing day and we couldn't be bothered to go back. We'd thought to take a tour of Teatro San Carlo but it seemed the tour only went to the stalls so we wouldn't have seen any more than we'd seen in the course of attending a performance.

Transport. Walked most places. Not worth getting a bus for short distances as they are usually very crowded & quite unpleasant. Worth getting buses to Mergellina to sample ice cream from the 'chalets' and to Capodimonte for the catacombs of San Gennaro & the Capodimonte museum. Got funicular from Montesanto to Vomero & from Vomero to Chiaia. Never got a tram.

Pizza. Since this was a 3 week trip we saved money by largely devoting meals in Naples to the search for the best pizza, mainly restricting ourselves to the 2 classics. Lombardi a Santa Chiara (on via Benedetto Croce, part of Spaccanapoli) was our favourite : IMO the best Marinara with cherry tomatoes & lots of garlic and the best Margherita with particularly tasty mozzarella. Antica Pizzeria Da Michele fine & ridiculously cheap at €5 for a pizza & a beer (take a ticket to reserve your place in the queue ' we waited c.15-20 minutes). Brandi nice but not outstanding. Pizzeria Antica del Port'Alba poor ambience and service but the pizza DOC was very good.

Ice cream. Our favourite was La Torteria in Chiaia, although even it wasn't a patch on San Crispino in Rome. Also tried Chalet Ciro & Remy Gelo in Mergellina, Otranto in Vomero, and others not worth mentioning.

Pastries. Discovered that in addition to sfogliatelle riccie which we know and love at home, there is also sfogliatelle frolle made with shortcrust pastry. The latter could be a bit heavy; but warm from the best bakery, Attanasio just off Piazza Garibaldi, we actually preferred them to riccie. Pastiera, which reminded me a bit of Yorkshire curd tart, and coda d'aragosta (especially with lemon filling) also very good.

Negronis : good everywhere, best at Dante 33 on pizza Dante.

Overall impression : Naples is incredibly interesting with so much to see and a great atmosphere ' we would go back. In fact there was so much to see and do in the city, that after 5 trips to Campania & this the closest yet, we *still* haven't made it to Pompeii or Herculaneum (and me with a degree in archaeology !). Ah well, back to the idea of visiting those during a long weekend at a cooler time of year.

A lot of people seem to think or feel that Naples is dangerous but we never felt threatened. But we were careful as we would be in any city - didn't take out more money than we needed, left credit cards in hotel safe, etc. (didn't use money belt or similar, though). Just got ripped off once, at a restaurant ' La Tana dell'Arte.

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