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Naples- guidebooks, other reading recommendations

Naples- guidebooks, other reading recommendations

Mar 14th, 2012, 12:59 AM
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Naples- guidebooks, other reading recommendations

I'm looking for guidebook recommendations for Naples. I'm especially looking for something with good maps and directions. Any opinions on Lonely Planet versus Rough Guide, or Frommers verses Fodors for Naples?

When I went to Rome I had a Rick Steves book. I found his maps useful, as well as the practical information on things like public transportation. Has anyone used his Naples/Amalfi Coast book, did it have useful practical info? (I hate Rick Steves' commentary on things and usually ignore it- I was looking at his Naples guide on amazon and it looks like he takes a strictly daytrip approach to Naples, and prattles on about "celebrating your survival" at the end of the day and it ticked me off- if I'm this annoyed by the free preview on amazon, I'm thinking the book is not for me but if it has good directions or good maps I'll buy it).

I'm definitely buying the Blue Guide to Southern Italy, for historical and cultural background.

I'd also love to hear any rec's for other books about Naples and the surrounding areas like Pompeii, etc. History, art, fiction, anything you think is worth reading.

Also movies. I know there are some films from the 60's and 70's- I've seen Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, and have some other old ones on my list (more Sophia Loren vehicles, The Four Days of Naples, and I think Pasolini might have a film or two set in Naples) but I'm wondering if there are any recent movies worth watching?
Apres_Londee is offline  
Mar 14th, 2012, 02:39 AM
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Rick Steves hates Naples, so you are wise to skip that. In general, Rick Steves panders to the crowd that wants Europe as a cloyingly sentimental fiction, and while I appreciate his guidebooks stay up to date with practical information, I flee that whole view of Europe.

I'm really fond of Everyman Citymap guides for old towns as complicated as Naples, just for getting around.


I'm also wild about the Italy Touring Club Guides, but the one for Naples in English has been out of print for some time. You can buy used ones, but you'll need a much more recent guide to be sure about opening times, travel logistics, restaurants, etc


You can get some idea of whether a Time Out guide to Naples would work for you by looking at Time Out online:


Perhaps the indispensable book for understanding the poverty of Naples that so many people criticize is "See Naples and Die" by Robert Ellis:


I confess I've never read Susan Sontag's door stop of a novel, "The Volcano Lover," but I'd like to sometime soon:


For movies, the Clark Gable/Sophia Loren "It Happened in Naples" is just awful in many ways, but fascinating for capturing the apparently timeless argument about the value and charm of Neapolitan irritating ways but their seductions to (some) Americans.

Also, if you can get your hands on a couple of Toto movies, they really are a hoot and he is still an important cultural figure in Napoli.

Avoid Eat, Pray, Love.
zeppole is offline  
Mar 14th, 2012, 03:01 AM
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Naples '44 by Norman Lewis. It's the diary he kept when serving in Naples during World War II, published many years later. A great deal of what it says about Naples and Neapolitans still holds true today.
Baudolino is offline  
Mar 14th, 2012, 04:26 AM
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I agree with Baudolino and will also add Robeto Saviano's "Gomorrah." (There is a book and movie, but I think the book is the better recommendation.)

"Gormorrah" sensationalizes organized crime in Naples (the Camorra), and is operatic, but not beyond the typical style of Italian journalism, and its a brave report of a real problem. I had a friend read it who said it made her scared every time she heard I was planning another trip to Naples, but really, it would be like being afraid to go to New Jersey after learning of organized crime there. A lot of people come back from Naples telling tales of the Cammoristi they saw, but they are also the same people who report seeing "urchins" rather than children in Naples, and other cliches.
zeppole is offline  
Mar 14th, 2012, 04:27 AM
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Sorry for my typo; It's Gomorrah
zeppole is offline  
Mar 14th, 2012, 07:29 AM
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This one I would classify as "optional background reading:"


I use the Cadogan guide to Naples, in addition to a few others mentioned.

ekscrunchy is online now  
Mar 14th, 2012, 01:39 PM
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These look good, thanks!
Apres_Londee is offline  
Mar 14th, 2012, 04:43 PM
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> Lonely Planet versus Rough Guide

I like both, but prefer the maps in the Rough Guide - I find them much easier to use.

> or Frommers verses Fodors

I like to use both to supplement the Rough Guide and/or Lonely Planet. I've found it well worth my while to consult numerous guidebooks for any trip, but then I really enjoy researching and planning.

Hope that helps!
kja is offline  
Mar 14th, 2012, 05:08 PM
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Another fantastic book that gives you a compelling history of the city combined with a contemporary view is "Streetfight in Naples" by Peter Robb. It will give you a real feel for the city and complements guidebooks very well.

francoisebelle is offline  
Mar 14th, 2012, 07:17 PM
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I have some recommendations for more "academic" type books. You might be able to find these in a library, although they are both on Amazon. The presentations may be a bit dry for some tastes, but really interesting subjects.

Invisible City: The Architecture of Devotion in Seventeenth-Century Neapolitan Convents by Helen Hills
Centers around convents in Naples during the 17th century. Some of the convents had very strict enclosure rules (or at least were supposed to have them), so the architecture of the church was adjusted by adding grills or galleries. Placing a female family member in a convent was cheaper than marrying her off and also added to prestige; Naples had an especially high number of convents.

The Stones of Naples by Caroline Bruzelius
The Stones of Naples covers Medieval architecture in Naples in general.
(Bruzelius also has an article, "Hearing is Believing: Clarissan Architecture", which includes info on Santa Chiara and Donnaregina convents. Very poignant stuff.)
mama_mia is offline  
Mar 15th, 2012, 04:22 PM
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Perfect, thank you
Apres_Londee is offline  
Mar 18th, 2012, 11:44 AM
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The Story of San Michele by Alex Munthe (Capri)
Bay of Noon--Shirley Hazzard (she also wrote The Ancient Shore about Naples and Greene on Capri)
See Naples: A Memoir, by Douglas Allanbrook
Vttraveler is online now  
Mar 18th, 2012, 07:18 PM
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Thanks Vttraveler, those look good.

How do people feel about the Streetwise Map for Naples?

I've never used a Streetwise map before. I'm ordering a Naples Everyman Mapguide as zeppole suggested, but sometimes I like to have a couple of different maps on hand because I have a terrible sense of direction and am always paranoid about getting lost for real.
Apres_Londee is offline  
Mar 19th, 2012, 01:56 AM
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The forthcoming 2nd edition (late May 2012) could be better, however the original version of the local Rough Guide was a huge disappointment - which I'd suggest avoiding completely!

Thanks to its eager Australian writer, the Lonely Planet's guide has improved immensely - however it still takes second place to the one from Time Out - of which we've bought four during our twelve years of visiting, and living in, the area...


Those are all about the same size - and rather easier to carry for an entire day than the Blue Guide!

But, to go with any of them, do also try to get a copy of the "Qui Napoli" magazine - for much more recent info on opening times, dates, prices etc - assuming, that is, that they restart after the winter break...


(Hopefully, there'll be an April edition - with one of Italy's two rounds of the America's Cup taking place here that month!)

And if familiar with A-Z map books, you should be able to find 'Stradanapoli' from Editrice Lozzi (ISBN: 9788886782074) once here - a comprehensive street atlas that's only a little larger (9"x7"x0.5"), covering the city, its outlying suburbs and also Pozzuoli, Capri, Ischia, Procida etc....

The new Feltrinelli bookshop in the Napoli Centrale train station is a convenient place to look - with a good selection of all sorts of English language books!


A_Brit_In_Ischia is offline  
Mar 19th, 2012, 01:39 PM
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I know the Blue Guide weighs a tonne, and I think the Southern Italy guide is about 600 pages- the same as the Rome guide- which was really heavy! but to me they are worth their weight in gold.

I think this time I'm going to tear out the maps to take with me during the day and leave the book itself in my hotel room, though.

Good tip on the 'Stradanapoli' atlas, thank you for all the info!
Apres_Londee is offline  

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