“See Naples and die”. Now I’m sure you’ve heard that before and perhaps 30 years ago that phrase would have been more associated with organised crime than with the historic, natural beauty that lays the foundation for Italy’s most rebellious city. The number of expats and foreigners I’ve met who have come to Naples on holiday and decided to stay, is increasing every year.
About 7-8 years ago, the town council finally woke up and actually starting making positive inroads to cleaning up the city in all the ways you can think of and consequentially, tourism is booming. I don’t know the figures, but I see it around all me. Living in the fascinating ‘Old Town is increasingly challenging to navigate as crowds of French, Germans, Spanish, Brits, Eastern Europeans and Italians, flood the streets of ‘spacca Napoli’, piazza San Domenico Maggiore and via dei Tribunali, all eager to get their street food, visit the grandiose churches and ancient underground passages to Roman theatres.
You’re probably reading this because you’ve either been to Naples, considering moving or have recently moved. I won’t lie, Naples is an incredibly tough city to live, in long-term. Italian bureaucracy rivals paint drying, at the best of times, and there is a distinct laissez-faire style to the city but that is actually one of its advantages.
Unlike the business driven hubs like Milan, Naples’ chilled-out environment seduces you, whether you’re taking an espresso break or marvelling at the volcano sitting on the horizon as you walk along the coastline of via Caracciolo.
Naples gives you time. Time to absorb, marvel and appreciate the rough diamond that it is.
Life is good here for expats. provided you’ve got an income, you’ll do just fine in Napoli. Most teach English as a foreign language, some run hostels while others provide other language based services. If you need any help with this matter, please comment and I’ll give you some suggestions to get you on your feet.
There is something for everyone, truly. Nightlife starts with an aperitivo around 19.00 and can extend into late night bars and clubs until the very early hours. People love being out and about and I’ve had a lot of fun even on a Tuesday night, there really isn’t a day where Naples is sleeping.
Head downtown and venture into the university melting pot area, crammed with students and excited tourists, loaded with bars, street performers, cheap drinks and Alice in Wonderland adventures where you never quite know where you’ll end up.
Across town in Chiaia, you have your Gucci shopping and prosecco glasses if you’re looking for something to post on your Instagram page whereas moving uptown into Vomero, you have a never-ending choice of ‘Italianised’ pubs and trendy bar spots in Naples’ more tranquil part of town.
There are many many more and in all cases, it’s so easy to connect with people. You’ll quickly realise that it’s not that big a city and somehow, everyone knows each other one way or another. Learning Italian will certainly help you integrate and I highly recommend you seek ways improve your Italian or Neapolitan, communication skills. Again, if you need support with this, shoot us a message.
Mamma mia! Eating out is very cheap if you know where to go and we’re talking about quality food here, Nonna’s specials, not McDonalds or anything from the freezer, you’re stomach and your pocket are going to be very happy. All I can say is, try everything. I mean, everything. There are some great unheard of local treats that you need to taste without questioning it.
Friariellii. Vesuvius’ home-grown spinach is a classic, with a touch of chilli, it’s often munched with sausages, in a pannino or on a pizza. Yum.
Cuoppo. A ‘cone’ of fried goodies. I really don’t know how to translate this. Includes, fried mozzarella squares, potato and mozzarella croquettes, rice balls and calamari if you have the seafood version. OMG.
Pizza. I’m not even going to comment - just eat it and love it. Try the fried version.
Ragù. Another traditional dish. Basically meat stewed in tomatoes for hours on end that it becomes so soft and succulent, it melts in your mouth. Not for vegetarians but a local favourite.
Parmigiana. Who ever eats aubergine in the UK? You will when you come here. Fried and layered with tomatoes, basil, mozzarella and parmesan, my mouth is watering as I’m writing this.
This list could go on and on and on and on. If you’d like to know some great local spots to try some of these things, please comment and I’ll tell you where to head.
Pompeii and Vesuvius have history.
Something for the culture vultures out there. You’re in the ancient capital of the Kingdom of Two Sicilys, where at every single turn you can find a piece of history in some shape or form.
From the volcanic Roman spas across the golf in Baia, the Bourbon castles, Europe’s oldest theatre (Teatro S. Carlo) to the Roman and Greek ruins and Caserta’s mini Versailles (Reggia di Caserta), all without mentioning the thousands of churches and oh, one more thing, Pompeii and Herculaneum, but I know you’ve visited those already…
How can you not come here and retrace the paths many civilisations have taken?
The summer is a great time. The city has a few beaches but it’s mainly rocks, which is still popular with the locals. The ‘Med’ is warm and emerald green and one of my favourite ways to enjoy it is rent a boat with a bunch of friends and cruise out to sea. Follow the coast either towards Monte di Procida and Ischia or you could head across to Capri. Either way, you’ll be in paradise, trust me.
That said, you could just leave the boat and hop across to the neighbouring islands already mentioned. They’re heaving in the summer so be prepared for that but there’s a good reason for it. Thermal spas in Ischia and the elegant VIP experience in Capri are difficult to resist for thousands.
Few fans I've known or stadiums I've been to, even come close to what you experience at the San Paolo, Maradona's 60,000+ seater, backyard. The legend may be gone but he lives on in every, single, citizen's, hearts.
The passion is overwhelming, the fans powerful. They literally have the ability to install fear into the opposition with their firecrackers and explosive chants, breaking down the enemy mentally.
It's remarkable and a must see occasion, even if you don't like football, you'll respect the San Paolo. The only time Naples is quiet and empty is when the team is playing and just some advice, do not show love for Northern teams, Juventus in particular, if you want to make friends. The two teams don't get along very well, let's leave it at that.
There are many more things I can write about Naples but most importantly, more than any blog article, it needs to be explored. It’s unlike any other Italian city. It’s energetic, frenetic, passionate, at times brutally honest but very forgiving. The magic lays in its history, nature and the character of its people. Knowing Neapolitans is the real way to understand and appreciate this vibrant city.
Key vocabulary for non-native speakers
To boom = to explode
Heaving / crammed = full of people
Head over to = go to
Culture vulture = someone who loves culture
Hop across = quickly visit
A bunch = a group or small number of something
ESL training for new teachers: https://www.udemy.com/intro-teach-english-online/