• Ankitha Prakash

The Pizza Land: Naples, Italy, 2017

“The Pizza Land”! Yes, Naples is the city that invented Pizzas! Pizza Margherita di bufala has remained my constant love from the time my friend, Gloria introduced it to me. Bufala is a kind of cheese that literally melts in your mouth and my mouth waters even the times I just talk about it! Truly yum! And when I got to know that “Pizza Margherita” had an history which is so connected to its nation (Italy), it blew my mind away. According to a popular tradition, in 1889, 28 years after unification of Italy, the visit of Queen Margherita of Savoy to the city of Naples led to the creation of a pizza type by chef Raffaele Esposito and his wife that resembled the colors of the Italian flag: red (tomato), white (mozzarella) and green (basil). They named it after the Queen- Pizza Margherita! Since then it has grown into one of the most recognizable symbol of Italian food culture in the world and to many, Pizza Margherita is the true Italian flag.

Now the question was when I know that this is the place that I must be eating my Pizza Margherita, where would be the perfect place to have one? Upon some research on the places to eat, I discovered the pizzeria “Antica Pizzeria Port’Alba” which is widely believed to be the world’s FIRST pizzeria!!!

📍 Antica Pizzeria Port’Alba

Originally established as a stand for peddlers, it was slowly converted to a pizzeria in the town center at Via Port’Alba in the year 1830. This restaurant broke the monotony of street vendors who would bake pizzas in wood-fired ovens, carry it to the streets in small tin stoves balancing over their head making sure to keep them warm and sell. Since then, the people of Naples have always been trying to create some new pizza varieties and such a thought led to the creation of Pizza Margherita as well (as read before)! This was the moment that hurried my visit to the city of Naples. And, I pinned it! Obviously, I ordered Pizza Margherita di bufala.

Don’t even ask about the taste guys, its indescribably incredible! A MUST VISIT FOR THIS!

I also tried the pasta here, undoubtedly the best one and must say that the service was great trying to keep up the reputation!

Apart from being famous for the city that invented pizza, there is a lot to explore here. Being the regional capital of Campania region and the third-largest city in Italy, Naples gazes out onto a spectacular setting dominated by Mount Vesuvius, the sea and the hillside.

📍 Mount Vesuvius

Mount Vesuvius is ranked amongst the most explored and well-known volcanoes on earth. This was also the volcano that destroyed Pompei, making it the only active volcano in mainland Europe that has erupted in the last hundred years. Though I could not find enough time to do the famous hike of the volcano mountain, I could just have a glimpse of it from the Castel dell’Ovo. You also get to see a beautiful Silhouette of the gigantic mountain from the entire bay of Naples.

There are about seven castles in Naples that look straight out of a fairytale. I have managed to visit two of them. One being Castel dell’Ovo and the other, Castel Nuovo.

📍 Castel dell’Ovo or Egg Castle

This is a seaside castle that rises on a former island Megaride, which is now a peninsula, on the Gulf of Naples in Italy. The structure of the castle includes: the fortress known as Castel dell’Ovo; the pier overlooking the sea called Ramaglietto; the Noramndy Tower which rests on piperno arches and shows an ancient Guelph battlements inserted in a subsequent rise; the Church of San Salvatore which rests on the columns made of granite and has Roman capitals of bones preserving some late Byzantine frescoes; the terrace of the Cannons being the highest area of the castle opens up picturesque views and often used for photoshoots; and the two terraces that offer the view of the gulf of Naples known as Loggiato ovest and Loggiato est. The interior rooms of the castle are also a sight to behold.

The castle name follows a legend that says that the Roman poet Virgil, had placed a magical egg into the castle’s foundations and if the egg was broken then the castle would be destroyed followed by a series of disastrous events for Naples.

Take your time to tour around the castle as it provides with various locations to enjoy the panoramic view of the gulf of the Naples and the Mountain Vesuvius.

On the way to the Castle Nuovo is the famous piazza of Naples, Piazza del Plebiscito.

📍 Piazza del Plebiscito

This is one of the biggest public squares in the city situated right next to the bay on the edge of city’s historic center. It is also host to the famous landmark: the church of San Francesco di Paola and on the opposite side of Piazza is where you see the Royal Palace of Naples.

📍 The Church of San Francesco di Paola

This is a prominent church located to the west in Piazza del Plebiscito. The church is reminiscent of the Rome’s Pantheon. The interiors are huge and has several statues.

📍 Royal Palace of Naples

This palace which is now a museum, is one of the most visited attractions in the city. On the western façade of the building (facing the Piazza del Plebiscito as seen in the picture) a series of statues of the prominent Kings of Naples, since the foundation of the kingdom of Naples in the 12th century, are displayed in niches.

📍 Galleria Umberto I

This is situated just a bit ahead of the Piazza del Plebiscito. If you have already read my blog on Milan city, you come across the Galleria Emanuele II, which is one of the oldest shopping malls in the world. Modeled after the Milan’s galleria is the Galleria Umberto I, a popular shopping arcade and a gathering place for Neapolitans and tourists.

📍 Castel Nuovo (often called Maschio Angioino)

Its scenic location and imposing size make it one of the main architectural landmarks of the city. It was officially called Castel Nuovo or New Castle to distinguish it from the existing ones. The present-day military look as well as the Renaissance embellishments to the castle were given by the Spanish conquerors in the 15th century.

If stones could talk then those used to construct Naples castles would speak volumes. Every ancient building has a fascinating story behind them, especially when they are castles. Perhaps, the castles of Naples witnessed frequent exchange of power which characterized Medieval Europe.

There are more castles to explore in here, as I ran out of time I couldn't see them all. Take your time to plan well in advance.

📍 Spanish Quarters

Around all these historical buildings, low-caste neighborhoods soon arose, one of them being the Spanish Quarters. Formed in the mid-16th century, this neighborhood on the street has succeeded in preserving its original style even now. It is a thick network of densely populated streets. Spent some quality time around here exploring the streets, their food, culture and shopping for some souvenirs.

There is a lot more to explore in this “VAST” city and would cost me another trip sometime! For now, the next was to the Island of Capri situated in the gulf of Naples. Next blog 😊