A Local Guide to Naples: Pizza, Palaces and Dancing Under the Stars | Vacation in Naples

meal

Our pizza, pastries, pasta and ice cream are wonderful but not so healthy. To prove that good food can be good, fitness fanatic Marco Pera and his friends started a restaurant Sano Sano in the center of Naples. They source organic vegetables and grains, fish and meat from within a 20 km radius, cook at the lowest possible temperatures (no deep-frying) and use premium, home-grown olive oil. Unusually for Italy, the two floors and the terrace are open from breakfast to midnight. I love his linguine with cherry tomatoes and almond pesto, but the roast potatoes with skin are lovely too, as is the seafood salad with blueberries and redcurrants.

Neapolitan pizza has been on the Unesco list since 2017, but famous outlets like Da Michele have become tourist traps. One of the oldest pizzerias Lombardy, where fifth generation Carlo Alberto makes pizzas with dough fermented for 48 hours: crust well risen and slightly blistered; Flavors of mozzarella, tomato, basil and oil working together in harmony.

inspiration

Contemporary Art Gallery Madre. Photo: Adam Eastland/Alamy

Naples has hundreds of museums, but I like the small ones Filangieri Museum, next to the Cathedral, with the collection of paintings, sculptures, ceramics and more belonging to this noble family. The gold mosaic ceiling in the lobby and the majolica tiled floor of the main gallery are worth the €6.50 admission alone, and Naples scenes by French, German, Dutch and Belgian painters show just how inspirational the city was to foreigners for centuries. I like the interior of Adriaen Brouwer’s tavern, with a man against one wall doing exactly what is expected of him after a long night of drinking. Best of all for British and US visitors are Benjamin Franklin’s letters (in English) to Gaetano Filangieri, whose 1780 book The Science of Legislation was a major inspiration for the US Constitution.

That Contemporary Art Gallery MadreThe permanent collection of includes a stunning site-specific fresco over two floors, and the rotating exhibitions are excellent too: one by Australian-born abstract painter Lawrence Carroll runs until 5 September.

neighborhood

Lab25 Naples

I grew up in Vomero, which can be reached by funicular from the old town. It’s the Hampstead of Naples and the view of the bay and Mount Vesuvius is wonderful. There is also a good pizzeria up there Gorizia. My father, sculptor Luigi Mazella, died of Covid in 2021 and I am opening his studio to visitors this summer. Located in the former winery of the great Villa Haas, it houses many works by him and some by his teacher, the sculptor Ennio Tomai. Head back to the center down the Pedamentina di San Martino, a long stone stairway from Castle Sant’Elmo, built to allow the cavalry of the Bourbon rulers to gallop down quickly to quell riots. Stop by for locally made souvenirs Laboratory25 (Inset) in Via Raimondo di Sangro, a treasure trove of handmade ceramics and leather goods by Eugenio and Laura Pariante.

green space

The last remaining parkland of the Vomero’s various noble palaces, the gardens of Villa Floridiana are an oasis of oak, pine, palm and cypress trees, popular with school groups and parents with strollers. The villa belonged to the Bourbon King Ferdinand I, who settled his mistress here, and the gardens are unusual in that they are in the less manicured ‘English’ style, with winding paths and lush greenery.

nightlife

head for that baretti (small bars) on the edge of the Chiaia district. At 8 p.m., as soon as the shops close, bars spread out their tables and chairs on the sidewalks in narrow streets around Piazza Rodinò. Vinarium and L’Ebbrezza di Noe are good for appetizers. Clubs by the sea for later evenings Partenopea and Arenile di Bagnoli offer live music, DJs and dance floors under the stars.

Where to sleep

Next to the Madre gallery, on the fourth floor of a former convent dating back to 1278, Dimora Donnaregina (Doubles from €97 B&B) is a high-ceilinged space crammed with paintings, sculptures and an impressive art library. Rooms have balconies overlooking the street or a quiet courtyard, and breakfast includes pastries, fruit, and omelettes. Decumani roof (from €90 per night) has three self-catering apartments on the top floor of an 18th-century palazzo in the old town, all with terraces and fantastic rooftop views.

Mariano Mazella is a Naples-born architect specializing in restoration

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