What to do in Napoli, Italy| Where to stay|Where to eat | Ft. Guide to Mt Vesuvius

Today I bring you an intimate guide of what to do in Napoli, Italy, commonly known as Naples. I will be expressing all that I have learned from talking with the rugged but beautiful South Italians and why you too should cultivate a love affair with Napoli

There tends to be two typical reactions that tourists elicit when they inadvertently express their opinions to 1000 people: loved Napoli or hated NaplesYes, I have intentionally juxtaposed the Italian name for city to the English one. This is simply because if you immerse yourself with the people of Napoli and get to know what it is like to belong to a city so diverse, you cannot help but show the respect of using its Italian name. But, for those who seemingly dislike the dirty city, I assure you that they are merely constructing their cornerstone opinions on a structure of very surface-level and superficial values. You can probably tell by my terminology that I do love Napoli, but that said, the city has a steep learning curve that one must be prepared to endure. Let’s first begin our journey from Napoli station. For those who have flown in, I am sure you will need to apply similar lessons.

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Exiting Napoli Centrale Station

The great man Rick Steves from Rick Steves Europe, himself, says prepare yourself for a confronting walk from Napoli Centrale station to your desired accommodation. I can tell you that describing the walk as confronting is a complete and utter understatement. In fact, words cannot describe the shock I experienced coming from the pristine, cobbled streets of Rome. What you will see is beyond chaotic, somewhat smelly and little English is widely spoken. There are busses pulling out in front of motor bikes, motor bikes almost running down pedestrians and fresh dog poop that has not been picked up by the obliging citizen. It is also important to note that per capita, there is significantly low amounts of green spaces such as parks and congregations of trees. This was probably the factor that I personally was not used to. But rest assured- from all that I have learnt about this chaotic city, I can tell you where you should stay and perhaps, where to avoid.

Stay near Spaccanapoli

 

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The divide stretches on and on

 

To immerse yourself in the most beautiful part of Napoli, I recommend you stay near Spaccanapoli or the historic centre. Spaccanapoli is the informal names given to the long, straight street running down the middle of Napoli’s historic centre. You can find a beautiful walking trail here. You can sign up for free with the linked AllTrails site, or you can pay to go pro and save numerous walking trail guides from around the world, allowing you to travel independently but yet still with a great source of information.

Be warned, budget hotels are hard to come by in the historic centre and tend to be a bit more ‘upper-market’ in style. This brings me to my next point…

Budget Travellers: Use AirBnB

It seems to be a trend that hotel and guest house owners, as well as AirBnB hosts, can speak English quite well and usually will be the best English-speakers you will come across in Napoli. Now, we didn’t stay in near the Spaccanapoli area. We stayed in an area North of Napoli Centrale station, which was only a 10 minute walk away from the historic centre and the glorious markets along the Spaccanapoli. I recommend this area budget travellers and for those who do not mind perhaps a more ‘working class’ area. We stayed in a cosy apartment and we met the nicest Italian in the world, the best AirBnB host and made a lifelong friend with Salvatore, whom I will be writing a special post about next. His apartment is almost always less than $70 AUD a night and in winter, is as low as $20 AUD a night (absolutely insane). The kitchens are fully stocked and you really feel like you have a home away from home in Napoli. We got to cut our own bread, eat punnets of olives and artichokes to our hearts content!

 

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Image credit: AirBnB, Nunzia and Salvatore

What to do in Napoli

Visit the Archaeological Museum

If you are planning to visit Pompeii, your trip will not be complete without seeing the Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli. Many of the smaller artefacts found in the Pompeii archaeological site permanently live in the Archaeological Museum and often tell very important stories. I believe that if you are  someone who is not so familiar with the historical disaster in Pompeii but you are seeing the site because you know it has, at least, some worldly significance, a visit to the museum will definitely enlighten you.

The museum also has an amazing Farnese marble sculpture collection and Egyptian Artefacts.

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Centuries old mosaics

 

Indulge in Contemporary Art at Museo Madre

Just a stones throw a way from the Archaeological Museum lives one of my favourite contemporary art museums around the world. Smaller in comparison to the famous MOMA and MONA but the collection Madre has is that of great quality. Adorned throughout the museum are blurbs about the artists featured, documenting their inspiring creative lives. There is also free entry on Mondays, which you will find very useful as your dollars will most likely be spent on quite a few museums in Napoli.

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Napoli Underground- Napoli Sotterranea

I kick myself still that I was too jetlagged to get myself here. This is perhaps one of the best things to do in the city to truly get to know the history of Napoli city. On your tour, you will explore a 2400 year old Greek-Roman aqueduct that has provided the city with water for 23 centuries. It is incredible how much technology was developed so long ago that still provides blueprints for supplying cities with water all around the world.

 

What to do around Napoli

Napoli makes a very convenient home-base for anyone trying to get to Pompeii and Mt Vesuvius. Word of advice- you do not want to actually stay in Pompeii. You will get ripped off and the locals highly disapprove of the food scene here.  Napoli, on the other hand, is also a very good place to stay if you would like to hire a driver so you get to see the Amalfi Coast- but more about that in my next post.

Getting to Pompeii Archaeological Park

You are going to need to navigate to the Napoli Piazza Garibaldi metro station. For a point of reference, it is located beneath Napoli Centrale Station and there will be signs that will lead you down to the Metro lines. Get a train in the direction to Salerno- you won’t miss the Pompeii stop. It should take about 45 minutes. The Pompeii Archaeological Park is only  short, guided walk away from Pompeii station.

 

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Just another neighbourhood

 

Getting to the top of Mt Vesuvius

Okay first I must warn you- if you are independent traveller not on an organised tour to Mt Vesuvius, getting there is unclear and slightly difficult. When you input directions to the carpark to the Vesuvius National Park (at 1000m) from Naples, google maps with either have a heart attack or take you on a really funky route. Below I have 3  routes for you- two we tried, one we failed at traversing. But we warned, if you try googling some these routes, you will not gain much clarity.

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Route 1: Train + Local Bus

So as previously mentioned, you need to navigate to the Napoli Piazza Garibaldi metro station and catch the train in the direction of Salerno. You need to get off at Portici Ercolano Station and navigate your way to the number ‘5’ bus. Supposedly it is a short walk but we couldn’t seem to find the bus stop in time and we missed it. It was going to be a 40 minute wait for the next one. If you successfully use this route then well done to you! You figured out the shortest route to Vesuvio. 

Route 2: Train to Pompeii and EavBus 

So, from Napoli Piazza Garibaldi metro station, get off at the Pompeii stop that will get you to the Pompeii Archaeological Park. Walk to the park (you don’t need to enter it) and find the Piazza Anfiteatro exit. From here, you will find the EavBus. This is a private bus company which is why the route is not listed on Google Maps. You can buy tickets on the bus for a few euros. We used this route getting back to Naples and the bus driver let everyone off at Pompeii station. It is definitely easier to use this route on the way back. You will see large coach busses that say ‘Pompeii’. Getting to Vesuvio National Park from Pompeii seems to be the hard part. But rest assured, I have a well-tested route for getting there. For some very vague information, I found an unhelpful website here, but hey, it may work for you!

Route 3: Train + Taxi

So just like route 1, you need to navigate to the Napoli Piazza Garibaldi metro station and catch the train in the direction of Salerno. You need to get off at Portici Ercolano Station. There are always taxi drivers outside of this station usually waiting to over-charge independent tourists who miss the bus to get to Vesuvio National Park. Be sure to say “top/up” of Mt Vesuvius, not “bottom/down”. It will probably take you all day, if not longer to walk from the bottom of the mountain to the top and there are no foot paths. Once you are done your walk around the National Park and you so happen to miss a bus back down into civilisation, there are always taxi’s waiting for untimely tourists like you (I mean, like me).

 

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One of my best photos to date

 

 

Hire a driver and tour the Amalfi Coast

If you have cash to splash, a 300 euro a day driver is probably no bother to you. But, if you stay tuned for my next post budget travellers, I have a friend who only charges 150 euros and he will also bring you dinner to your apartment. Yes, Napoli style pizza and dessert. But more on that later… here is a teaser photos of this beautiful coast.

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Where to Eat!

Finally you say, what Little Dove Travels is best at… Eating food. Well, I have for you three must-stop places.

Pizza Vesi

Multiple Locations 

English menus, warm and friendly staff and pizza that would be upwards of $20 in Australia is only 3 euros here. Controversial to say but this was our favourite pizza in Napoli. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to try too many pizzas so we probably have no idea what we are talking about but I still highly recommend this joint.

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L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele

Via Cesare Sersale 1/3, 80139, Naples, Italy

Yes, if you walked the streets of Napoli and listened to every pizza guide ever, then this recommendation is very typical. This has to be one of the most famous pizzeria’s in Napoli and for a very good reason. Cheap, no frills and squished in with locals, you will find only two pizza’s on the menu- the Marinara and Margherita. But this does not affect the lines that this place sometimes gets. Boring you say? Well, if you are a pizza connoisseur and enjoys pizza best the way it was originally invented and enjoyed, you will thoroughly enjoy drinking beer and sawing away at your tasty Sunday pie.

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Un Sorriso Intergrale Amico Bio

Vico S. Pietro a Maiella, 6, 80138 Napoli NA, Italy

I kick myself that I have lost the photos I took at this restaurant. But, your trip in Napoli- herbivore or not, will not be complete without stopping for this restaurants farm-to-table culinary creations. Look for the open black gate while you try to find your way down the small alley that Google Maps insists you walk along. Through the open gate, you will find the secret fully vegetarian restaurant (with plenty of vegan options) and prepare for some amazing food. Some of the dishes are combinations I have never even heard of but I still dream about eating the food here. Arrive hungry and order LOTS!

But that’s not all…

We have an exclusive post which will be titled “A Day with Salvatore” coming soon that will stem from this post. But, we hope to be back in Napoli so we continually update this all-inclusive guide.

Happy travels!

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UNESCO Cultural Heritage in the Cinque Terre

The Cinque Terre holds significant cultural heritage and value, both in the hearts of locals and tourists. With Monash University, I had the honour to visit the Cinque Terre and spend time with locals discussing issues of community, mass tourism and cultural integrity. As a component of my work and research, I have chosen to discuss the significance of the Cinque Terre’s World Heritage Listing, and how it affects tourism flows and the cultural morale of the community. All photography is my own.

The United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is responsible for maintaining international cooperation in the realms of education, science, culture and communication (UNESCO, 2018a). This encompasses the preservation of some of the world’s most culturally and historically significant sites, including cultural and natural heritage sites that are of outstanding value to humanity. Italy counts 53 World Heritage Sites as listed by UNESCO, and this is the most of any country currently on the World Heritage List (UNESCO, 2018b). The UNESCO site of the Portovenere, Cinque Terre and surrounding Islands (Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto) on the Ligurian coast is a unique stand out among Italy’s list of sites. The Cinque Terre may be colloquially known as a “hikers’ paradise,” but there is more to its World Heritage Listing than its classification as a national park. More specifically, it is a landscape that contains the distinct cultural value to its community and is a testament to those who prosper among the disadvantageous terrain (UNESCO, 2018c). The culture and community that lives on it are unparalleled. However, with an increase in mass tourism, the Cinque Terre’s cultural value often goes unrecognised. The region’s World Heritage Listing could be acting as a double-edged sword, as it permits a growing tourism industry and provides locals with an income, but the increased tourism is also drastically affecting the preservation of the landscape, both culturally and environmentally.

 

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A view of Cinque Terre’s many terraces from the heights of Riomaggiore

 

The Cinque Terre was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1997. It marked a time where traditional agricultural landscapes were beginning to be recognized as culturally significant, and this boosted the sense of pride in the Cinque Terre community (Rössler et al., 2006). Initially, being listed as a world heritage site rebirthed the regions territorial identity, causing it to quickly become a world-famous tourist destination. This newfound fame brought with it direct economic benefits, and the founding of the National Park also attracted international attention towards the preservation of the dry-stone wall terraces (Rössler et al., 2006) – a key component to the unique cultural landscape. The founding has done much to increase the protection and safeguarding of the cultural landscape while improving the agricultural quality of the products produced in the difficult terrain (Bottazzi et al., 2006). This basis to this premise is that the UNESCO World Heritage listing provides the region with a ‘tourism specialization’ that allowed it to emerge what is described by Arezki et al. (2009) as a ‘development trap’. In the case of the Cinque Terre, elements of a fast past developing modern world cease to exist but, yet it provides a physical representation of cultural heritage; a snapshot of life more than 150 years ago when human being overcame the steep terrain and proved the area to be economically productive. Today, the UNESCO World Heritage Listing provides the region with the cultural heritage protection it desperately needs and provides the area with a new economic lease on life (Arezki et al., 2009), now that it is not viable to produce products in the region for everyday purpose. The products produced today, for example, the local Schiachetrà are premium, high cost and low availability products with only upwards of 6000 produced a year (Cinque Terre Eu, 2018), of which is not enough to sustain the long-term growth the regions GDP. As described by many locals, it is now the older generations who work the land on the terraces and agricultural production is significantly low and with the upcoming generations and a greater reliance on tourism for income. There are grave fears in regard to the total abandonment of the remaining terraces and hence, a significant loss of a cultural landscape and cultural heritage.

 

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Sunset over Manarola

 

Despite many residents stating that tourism is needed and highly valued in the Cinque Terre, many also described significant negative impacts it has on the locals and the landscape itself. The double-edged sword phenomenon and similar community perceptions can also be seen in a case study by Haralambopoulos and Pizam (1996), that discuss how residents of Pythagorean, a well-established UNESCO World Heritage destination on the Greek island of Samos, understand the need for tourism and the positive effects it has on the region’s economy but also often identify many negative impacts of tourism. A key negative impact described is host-community (i.e the Cinque Terre or Pythagorean) destruction and debasement. In the case of the Cinque Terre, this can be seen when locals describe their discontent towards large organized tour groups and large cruise ship tour groups that dock in one of the villages for a day and leave by night- often not contributing high enough to the economy and the region to compensate for high foot traffic and tourist pressure. Haralambopoulos and Pizam (1996) also propose that tourism development is believed to adversely affect occupational distribution by sector, in which case was noted in the two Greek Islands that traditional agricultural occupations and crafts were abandoned or not adequately passed on to younger generations because tourism-related jobs were regarded as highly profitable. In the words of Cinque Terre locals, young people want a “real job” and are “obsessed with money” (Brewster et al., 2017), thereby, many terraces remain and continue to be abandoned. This is a direct example of the cultural destruction of the landscape; the reason why the Cinque Terre region exists, and humans proved the difficult terrain to be liveable and at least, once upon a time, ‘viable’, is because of the cultivation of crops on these mountain terraces. It is the exact reason why the Cinque Terre could be listed as a cultural landscape, actualized by human beings, on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The poignant question is, will its cultural heritage be forgotten entirely?

 

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The physical representation of human beings overcoming some of the most difficult terrains.

 

It is critical that cultural heritage management and tourism in the Cinque Terre build and retain a positive relationship, otherwise, the very future of the region as a UNESCO cultural heritage site could be jeopardized. This will have to involve finding a balance between consumption of extrinsic values and expectation by tourists as well as the conservation of the intrinsic history and values of the cultural heritage (McKercher et al., 2002) the Cinque Terre community retains. McKercher and colleagues (2002) believe that a strong partnership between tourism management and cultural heritage begins with the conservation sector, in which case the Parco Nazionale delle Cinque Terre, or the Cinque Terre National Park, could integrate further with tourist agencies and businesses alike. Upon reflecting villager statements again, once upon a time, the National Park as a sector used to be highly integrated with tourism operations, made possible through the Cinque Terre Card, that allowed a cost-effective and easily useable transport pass for tourists. However, today, the general consensus is that this card is no longer useful and has changed in function in recent years and perhaps, could be revamped via the National Park board of trustees and village mayors. Furthermore, if large organized tour groups are of great concern, a conservation sector and tourist sector partnership could be highly beneficial to develop strategies that attract independent, culturally aware tourists. Strategies could include making hiking maps and individual trail maps accessible and educational, whether it is via physical maps, brochures or electronic apps on smartphones that have a strict focus on cultural sites. This could prevent the reliance on cruise ships, organized tours and subsequently reduce overall tourist pressure that is drastically affecting the region.

 

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While 90% of the terraces are now abandoned, Manarola is home to those most looked after

 

Ultimately, to preserve the cultural heritage of the Cinque Terre and to retain its UNESCO ‘stamp’, all the while increasing culturally sensitive tourists, sustainable cultural heritage planning must be further developed (Du Cros, 2001). Where cultural tourism has clearly become a double-edged sword is reflected in the landscape’s inability to withstand mass touristic flows. Du Cros (2001) proposes a model of change that begins identifying marketable areas that are highly robust with a strong tourist appeal and directing high flows to these areas. Areas of high vulnerability, however, such as most sites and areas within the Cinque Terre, must prioritise a conservation plan that promotes sustainable flows of tourism to protect cultural integrity. Strategies such as docking limitations on cruise ships are already in place, however, dispersing flows across multiple routes and closely monitoring the number of tourists is critical for the preservation of the landscape.

 

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What tourist wouldn’t want to explore the beauty of this Ligurian coastline?

 

There is a significant lack of sustainable cultural heritage planning and management research within the Cinque Terre region, hence, this reflective piece is highly limited. However, there is general research regarding this topic that could be reviewed and used as a basis to develop appropriate conservation strategies that protect the cultural significance of the Cinque Terre, while cultivating sustainable tourism the region now desperately needs for its local economy. It also may be that the region’s UNESCO ‘stamp’ will always be a double-edged sword, so long as it remains on the World Heritage List. But perhaps, a discussion should take place to alleviate the effects it has on the community and on its cultural beauty.

 

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No flood or storm hazard could ever weaken this community’s pride

 

 

Thank you for reading,

Keep travelling,

Love,

Little Dove Travels

© Cora B.



References

Arezki, R., Cherif, R. and Piotrowski, J.M., 2009. Tourism specialization and economic development: Evidence from the UNESCO World Heritage List (Vol. 9). International Monetary Fund.

Bottazzi, C., Bottero, M., Mondini, G. and Raineri, D., 2006, July. Evaluation of the tourist demand in management plans for UNESCO sites: the case of the Cinque Terre Park (Italy). In Environment Identities and Mediterranean Area, 2006. ISEIMA’06. First international Symposium on (pp. 367-372). IEEE.

Brewster, C, Chua, A, Shuckoor, S, Maletzke, L, 2018, Viability and Sustainability of the Cinque Terre, Monash University, Australia/Malaysia

Cellini, R., 2011. Is UNESCO recognition effective in fostering tourism? A comment on Yang, Lin and Han. Tourism management32(2), pp.452-454.

Du Cros, H., 2001. A new model to assist in planning for sustainable cultural heritage tourism. International journal of tourism research3(2), pp.165-170.

Haralambopoulos, N. and Pizam, A., 1996. Perceived impacts of tourism: The case of Samos. Annals of tourism Research23(3), pp.503-526.

McKercher, B. and Du Cros, H., 2002. Cultural tourism: The partnership between tourism and cultural heritage management. Routledge.

Rössler, M., 2006. World heritage cultural landscapes: a UNESCO flagship programme 1992–2006. Landscape Research31(4), pp.333-353.

UNESCO, 2018a, Introducing UNESCO, UNESCO, date accessed: 18th of January 2018, https://en.unesco.org/about-us/introducing-unesco.

UNESCO, 2018b, World Heritage List, UNESCO, date accessed: 18th of January 2018, < http://whc.unesco.org/en/list>

UNESCO, 2018c, Portovenere, Cinque Terre, and the Islands (Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto), UNESCO, date accessed: 18th of January 2018 < http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/826>