Naples and Pompeii
Naples is Italy in the extreme. We'll prowl backstreet fish markets, dodge fast-moving Vespas, and dine on pizza where it was invented. We'll climb to the top of nearby Mount Vesuvius, then wander through the amazing ruins of Pompeii, the Roman town it destroyed.
- Read the script from the show.
Roberta Mazzarella, who sorts through the wonders of Naples as only a local can, is excellent for a city walk (mobile 339-135-7619, email@example.com). Roberta also gives tours of Capri and Pompeii.
Antica Pizzeria da Michele
Antica Pizzeria da Michele, a few blocks from the train station, is for pizza purists; it serves just two varieties: margherita (tomato sauce and mozzarella) and marinara (tomato sauce, oregano, and garlic, no cheese). Look for the vertical red Antica Pizzeria sign, at the intersection of Via Pietro Colletta and Via Cesare Sersale; tel. 081-553-9204.
A once-thriving commercial port of 20,000, Pompeii grew from Greek and Etruscan roots to become an important Roman city. Then, at about noon on August 24, A.D. 79, everything stopped when the city was suddenly buried under 30 feet of hot volcanic ash. Pompeii was rediscovered in the 1600s, and excavations began in 1748. For archaeologists, this was a shake-and-bake windfall, teaching them volumes about daily Roman life.
Information: Tel. 081-857-5347, www.pompeiisites.org.
For a local, private, guided tour of Pompeii, consider Gaetano Manfredi, who is knowledgeable, energetic, intense, and theatrical — a joy to follow as he brings the dusty ruins to life (tel. 081-863-9816, mobile 338-725-5620, email firstname.lastname@example.org).
For lovers of antiquity, this museum alone makes Naples a worthwhile stop. Considering its popularity and the importance of its collection, it's remarkable how ramshackle, unkempt, and dumpy its displays are. Still, if you can overlook the dust bunnies, it offers the best possible peek into the artistic jewelry boxes of Pompeii and Herculaneum. When Pompeii was excavated in the early 1800s, Naples' Bourbon king bellowed, "Bring me the best of what you find!" The actual excavation sight is impressive but barren; the finest art and artifacts ended up here.
For up-to-date specifics, see the latest edition of the Rick Steves' Snapshot: Naples & The Amalfi Coast travel guide or the Rick Steves' Italy travel guide — or join us on one of our free-spirited Italy tours.