English: A view of Mount Vesuvius from a convent across the waters. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)The city of Naples, located on the south-western shores of Italy, is the third largest city in the country, and one of the richest in terms of history. But despite its incredible past that extends to its first foundations as far back as the 9th Century BC, it is often overlooked by tourists who rarely venture here from nearby Rome. But with so much to offer travelers, it's about time Naples was given the attention it deserves.
As landscapes and views go, the Bay of Naples is hard to beat. The curvature of the marina extends around the coastline until it meets the towering figure of Mount Vesuvius in the nearby National Park. The sea is beautifully clear, and it's a well tended, cared for place. The good looks of the city have lent themselves to the lyrics of songs written about it, with the Neapolitan Torna a Sorrento (Come Back to Sorrento), being one of the most popular.
Museums and Churches of Naples
Naples is a museum in itself, and within the city boundaries lie many churches, museums and historical sites ready to captivate travelers. The Duomo (cathedral) of San Gennaro, the patron saint of Naples, is one of the most visually spectacular in the region, while the Cappella di Santa Restituta is one of the country's oldest surviving churches. And for lovers of the Baroque-style architecture, a visit to the church San Giuseppe dei Ruffi is a fascinating visit.
Naples is considered to be the birthplace of pizza, with its origins dating back to the 16th Century. The varying sauces that top the pizza each have a different story. The Margherita is reported to have been created in 1889 for the then Queen of Italy, Margherita of Savoy. Back then it was just a topping of seasoned tomatoes, but that has since evolved to include white mozzarella cheese and green basil to replicate the colors of the Italian flag.
Day Trips from Naples
The Amalfi Coast
The Amalfi Coast is thought to be one of the most picturesque coastlines in the country, and it has worldwide fame, with travelers from every continent spreading word about its beauty. It's a typical Mediterranean place, but the drama of the cliff-side houses which seem to cling perilously to the mountainous terrain as it leads to the sea, make it all the more spectacular. It's the perfect place for a short day trip from Naples, and offers a great alternative from the bustle of city life.
The magical ruins of Pompeii are not far from Naples and they are a fascinating place to visit for history lovers. Of course, the city of Pompeii has grown up around the ruins, so excavations aren't the only sights here, and the newer town has plenty of boutique shopping and excellent dining to enjoy.
The island of Capri, just off the Sorrento coastline is perfect for a day trip from Naples, and it's a haven for celebrities looking to escape the mainland. It's also the perfect location for indulging in some water sports, and one of its most famous attractions is the Blue Grotto, a series of watery caves that are eerily beautiful to witness firsthand.
Next time you visit Italy, don't stop at the capital. The short two hour train journey from Rome makes Naples a wonderful addition to any vacation.
Larry Aiello is an Italian travel blogger that loves to share his passion and advice about Italian travel such as the best way to get a room in Rome. He also loves to teach people how to learn the Italian language.