There’s no better way to get the sense of a place than from people who live there – who walk the streets and absorb the vibrancy of local traditions. That’s precisely the Local Flavor that I hope to present here on the Naples Local Flavor Blog. To share more about life in Naples, I am happy to introduce a new interview series to introduce you to expats and Neapolitans who will share their insight on living, traveling and exploring Naples.
I pleased to kick off this new series by welcoming Bonnie from the fabulous website NapoliUnplugged.com. If you’re planning a trip or move to Naples, you simply must check out this website. More than just a resource of information, NapoliUnplugged is a labor of love by Bonnie, who passionately promotes the beauty of daily life in Naples. For those who love reading about Naples, also be sure to visit the Napoli Unplugged Blog and catch a glimpse of daily life in Naples on Bonnie’s Napoli Unplugged Photo Blog. Many thanks to Bonnie for her hard work on NapoliUnplugged.com and all she does to share the beauty of Naples, Italy!
How long have you lived in Naples? What brought you here?
I have been living in Naples since my husband took a position here just about five years ago. Everyday I wake up and am in awe of this city and at how fortunate I am to live here.
Do you have any tips for visiting Naples?
Be cautious but not afraid. Naples is a city and all that that entails, but it is not the house of horrors it’s been portrayed as. Use the same precautions you would use in any other major city. Keep your valuables close, travel in pairs or small groups, and try to meld in. Capri, Ischia, Sorrento, and the Amalfi Coast are popular tourist destinations, but Naples is a working city, so you might want to meld in a bit more. Skip the shorts and petal pushers and white sneakers and fanny packs in favour of jeans or trousers with comfortable walking shoes. And unless you are taking a picture, put your camera away. It’s best not to walk around with your camera draped around your neck.
Live like a local. If you really want to experience Naples, skip the hotel and rent an apartment. Find a place in a local neighbourhood like Centro Storico and spend a few days walking in the shoes of the Neapolitans. Shop at the small family run grocery stores or the local markets like Porta Nolana or the Pignasecca where you’ll find some of the best seafood in the world, the freshest produce imaginable, bread baked daily, and of course the famous Neapolitan staples like Mozarella di Bufala. Pick up a €2,00 bottle of market wine and bouquet of flowers and cook up your own Michelen star meal.
Take local transportation. A €3,10 UnicoNapoli daily ticket will get you around all day on the buses, metro and funicolari to virtually anywhere in the city you want to go.
Take your caffè at the bar. At €.70 vice around €2,50 to sit at a table you can drink in the culture while you sip your caffè. Don’t forget to pay for it at the register first and it’s always a nice gesture to leave a €.10 or €.20 tip on top of the receipt on the bar. If you do opt to sit at a table, it is yours for as long as you like and you won’t be rushed. In fact, you will need to ask for your bill, as it is the custom to leave you be until you are ready to go. Keep in mind that a small can of coke will also run you around €2,50 but the upside is that you will usually get some type of bar snacks with it.
Eat gelato before dinner! The Neapolitan’s meal hours might be quite different than you are used to. Caffè and a cornetto in the morning, a large meal around 2:00 p.m. and a light dinner around 9:00 or 10:00 p.m. And 4:00 or 5:00 in the afternoon, that’s the time for a gelato, winter, spring, summer and fall.
Don’t mind the queue. Neapolitans are notorious for gathering in a horde rather than lining up. Just when you think you’re next in line, three people will step in front of you. Don’t take it to heart, it’s not because you are a tourist. Either be patient or be pushy.
Slow down and breathe in the culture. Rome wasn’t built in a day and you surely won’t see Naples in a day either. Choose just a few key sites to visit during your stay then spend the rest of the time relaxing at a local caffè, wandering the many hidden streets and alleys, or taking in the sun along Naples’ famed Lungomare.
What is your favorite walk in Naples?
There are so many it’s hard to choose. There are the narrow cobblestone alleys of Centro Storico, the picturesque walk through the Virgiliano Park in Posillipo, the shopping streets in Vomero and along Via Toledo and Via Chiaia, the market streets of Porta Nolana. Then there is the spectacular walk along Lungomare. But my favourite walk by far is through the Sanità neighbourhood, one of the most characteristic areas of Naples.
Do you like Neapolitan cuisine? What do you enjoy?
Of course!!! I love all Neapolitan food, well most of it anyway. My number one favourite is Pasta Fagioli, thick, creamy, the ultimate comfort food. I’ve had it in the north but they just don’t make it like they do down here in Napoli. I also love Spaghetti alla Puttanesca. In the summer we live on fresh mussels, Spaghetti alle Vongole, Bruschetta al Pomodoro, Insalata Caprese, Prosciutto e Melone, and of course gelato!
One thing you love about living in Naples?
The people. Of all the things I’ve seen and experienced here in Naples, it is the people that I treasure most; warm, loving, and open; fierce and protective; proud and opinionated; passionate and animated.