Hey guys and girls,
Sorry for the lack of posts in August! I’m back and I’ve got lots of exciting posts lined up, from a couple of holiday summaries through to recipes to make the most of the last of the summer ingredients!
Earlier this month I took a trip over to Naples and Amalfi, and I had the most incredible time, enjoying the sunshine, exploring and of course, most importantly, eating my heart out. Genuinely one of my favourite trips to date, the food alone has me dreaming about returning ASAP!
We stayed in the Hotel Exe Majestic for three nights. It’s pretty nice and had all the amenities – five minutes from the metro and lots of shops and restaurants nearby too.
Transportation wasn’t quite as simple as the likes of Rome but it was hardly rocket science – you need different tickets for trains/buses/funiculars/ferries etc, but the city seems to have made some effort consolidating and making it simple. I heavily relied on Google maps to get me around (tip: download the whole city offline so you don’t waste data/time for loading things).
Having said that, I genuinely believe that exploring a city on your feet is one of the best ways of getting a feel of the place. And when the streets have this much charm it’s that bit more special.
I loved walking around the various neighbourhoods and getting lost in the tangle of streets.
Love the washed out pastel walls!
There’s tonnes of graffiti everywhere, none of it impressive. I did, however, stop to take a picture of this painting on top of a closed shop front.
Guided tours take place multiple times a day and I highly recommend taking one if possible.
Pope Sisto V Hall:
^ Such beautiful windows
^ Family trees
Beneath the church lie two millennia old ruins of the old, covered market. Our guide told us lots about the history, showing us examples of ancient bakeries, wineries and fish retailers.
^ The white slabs of marble, defining the path were used to help people find their way after dark.
^ Bakery – you can see on the right-hand side the remains of an oven.
This picture shows the different eras – the big rectangular blocks laid out by the ancient Greeks, the smaller diamond shaped designed by the Romans.
A tiny museum located near Piazza San Domenico Maggiore is not to be missed. Here you can see the ‘veiled Christ’ – the statue carved out of a single block of marble will not fail to impress, the details, finished with perfect folds of ‘fabric’ – simply astonishing! Don’t forget to pop downstairs to see the human blood vessel exhibition. (FYI: photography is prohibited.)
Toledo Metro Station
A beautifully decorated metro station. The artist who designed it, William Kentridge, plays on the themes of light and water with his mosaic, drawing to attention the station’s depth (50m below sea level).
Basilica di San Paolo Maggiore
Absolutely stunning 8th century Church, as they were having Sunday mass, I didn’t want to disturb so I quietly took a picture from the back and left.
There are about four different castles in Naples – I decided on Sant’Elmo because it was originally a church before it was turned into a castle then served as a prison. That and the panoramic views of the city!
I was, however, a little disappointed by the lack of signage/detail about what we were looking at.
^ How beautiful are those vines?
^ You can climb up the stairs and walk all the way around the castle top.
^ Nice view for the prisoners!
Porta Nolana Market
I stumbled upon this is the market where the locals come for their day to day ingredients. We didn’t see any tourists here at all! If you happen to be nearby, it’s worth popping by for a quick stroll.
^ Lots of cheap, knock off shoes and tees.
The seafront promenade is a great way to escape the busy streets and tourist sites of Naples.
I recommend just coming and plonking yourself on the rocks for sunset. It’s so peaceful and the silhouette of Mt Vesuvius is simply gorgeous.
Seriously, the food on this trip was incredible, yes pizza is probably my favourite food, so I am heavily biased but I really did enjoy the food here far more than my previous trips to both Venice and Rome. I’m desperate to go back and eat more!
Sfogliatellas – these crisp, flaky pastries, native Napleseas, are filled with a sweet lemony ricotta. Perfect breakfast with a cup of coffee.
Granitas – fruit flavoured slushies sold on the roadside and in cafes pretty much everywhere. A perfect, refreshing pick me up in the heat/excuse for a pit stop! So, so good! Lemon was definitely my fave.
Fritture – deep fried snacks, not only is it delicious, but it’s super cheap. The best is probably Friggatoria Vomero:
^ My fave was probably the fried aubergine and rice balls (supplì di riso).
Coffee – I was definitely breaking my self-enforced “one coffee a day” rule in Naples. The coffee was just too good not to! It’s generally small, strong and rich. I also stumbled upon something called caffe nonno – basically everything I wished iced mocha would be, topped with whipped cream. The stuff my dreams are made of. ❤
Naples is the home of pizza and I had sky high expectations. I’m pleased to report, I was not disappointed. The pizzas were everything I wanted them to be and more. (Can I live in Naples, please!??!) I devoured three pizzas in three days (it would have been more, but let’s just say Mr Man let the team down!)
To keep it completely fair, we ordered a Margherita everywhere we went (plus one other pizza off the menu). I’m of the view that the classic really allows the quality of the ingredients to shine. In descending order of enjoyment:
3) Pizzeria Trianon
It’s amazing to be able to watch these guys work – they’re so so quick! I’d love some lessons!
^ How much do you reckon one of these ovens would set me back by?
Verdict: Decent tomato sauce, crust and base lacked the level of char I was after, and the mozzarella tasted too ‘milky’ for my liking. 6.5/10.
2) Antica Pizzeria dell’Angelo
Verdict: Good, slightly acidic tomato sauce, generous with the mozz and a great, chewy, charred crust. Really enjoyable. 8/10.
In this case, I actually preferred the second pizza we ordered – the pulcinella – this was in short, a cheese feast. No tomato but lots of cheese (provola) and cream in the crust. Dreamy.
1) L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele
Made famous by the movie “Eat. Pray. Love.” there are always queues. Collect a ticket and listen out for your number to secure a table at this little place. On the plus side, service is swift. As you can imagine, it’s not really the place you can take hours over lunch.
^ I love watching these guys work.
^ The oven is so hot, the pizzas cook in about a minute flat! It’s incredible.
They only sell two types of pizza, the classic margherita:
and the marinara (topped with oregano and garlic infused tomato sauce, no cheese):
Verdict: Perfectly thin base with leopard-skin char marks beneath, incredible pillowy crust with a good chew, flavoursome tomato sauce (particularly the case with the marinara), sparse, creamy, mozz – overall, probably the best pizza I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating. 9/10. ❤
It makes me infinitely happy that they’ve also recently opened up a branch in London – I’m going to be traipsing up there soon to see if it compares!
Popped by this place on the final night as we wanted to go somewhere nearby before our early start in the morning. It’s a really nice, classy restaurant, reservations recommended!
^ Loved their take on the Caprese salad, the tower is so pretty, and the slow cooked tomatoes were delicious.
^ delicious homemade gnocchi, I’m definitely going to be trying to recreate this at home at some point!
Salt baked cod served over a light tomato sauce. The slow roasted cherry tomatoes on top gave it an extra burst of flavour.
The Italian take on ice cream is second to none. It’s lighter on the tongue because they use fewer (or in some cases, no) egg yolks and a lower ratio of cream to milk. It’s also stored at a slightly higher temperature, so melts very quickly. I ate a LOT of gelato in three days.
My favourites were Gay-Odin (hazelnut, my fave, and almond):
Chalet ciro mergellina – I tried and failed to take down this ridiculous icecream sandwich (two scoops and a whole load of cream in a brioche roll).
They also serve these slightly obscene freshly fried doughnut cones – filled with gelato, topped with cream, chocolate M&Ms, shortbread and chocolate sauce.
Gelateria Al Polo Nord – they do a great nutella flavoured gelato too (you can see it on the end in the picture below) – I tried a spoonful and I think it wasn’t too far off downing a spoonful out of a jar.
Tried the sorbet, rather than the gelato at this place – opted for melon and mixed berry. The former was particularly good.
And of course, because I’m me, I bought ingredients back with me! I picked up lots of stuff at Charcuterie Esposito, it’s definitely worth popping by if you’re after traditional ingredients.
We took a ferry across from Naples to the island of Capri – you can just show up at the port (Molo Beverello) and buy a ticket for the next departure.
It’s just under an hour away so I recommend leaving pretty early so you can make the most of your day. Don’t accidentally have a lie-in like we did!
^ The view upon arriving at Marina Grande.
We decided to walk, or rather, climb up the stairs to the top of the island / towards Anacapri (Google maps said it would take about 30minutes, but it took at least twice that!) It’s not terrible if you’re in even a loosely healthy state, but the heat does make it slightly challenging (and sweaty!)
The views make it worth it!
Tip: if you do decide to take the stairs, bring a bottle of water, there wasn’t anywhere en route to stop and grab some.
What felt like endless stairs – my iPhone health app clocked in about 75 floors on this day!
Met lots of little geckos scrambling around on our ascent.
I took this picture about 15mins from the top, the boats in the marina look so tiny!
Eventually, we made it to the top and pretty much just walked straight into one of the first cute little restaurants we saw – Ristorante la Felice.
^ Caprese salad – named after the island (translating to ‘salad of Capri’), slices of flavour packed tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and basil with a drizzle of olive oil – a classic medley of ingredients.
Parmigiana di melanzane – baked layers of thinly sliced, fried aubergines, rich tomato sauce and cheese. This dish packs in an incredible amount of flavour, from the slightly charred slices on top through to the moreish, melt in the mouth layers beneath. So. Freaking. Good.
Perfectly al dente spaghetti tossed in a fresh cherry tomato sauce, encapsulating the beauty of Italian cooking – so simple, so good!
After stuffing our faces with a late lunch we hopped on the chairlift to the top of Mount Solaro. It’s a really enjoyable, slow and peaceful ride up to the highest point in Capri.
Check out the stunning views!
Found this cool sundial.
There’s also a cute little bar at the top where you can grab some thing to drink or an ice cream.
^ Refreshing, icy lemon granita. ❤
Here’s a time lapse of the ride down:
^ Groves of lemon trees on the way!
We spent a couple of hours exploring the town, cute little shops and cafes galore.
We stopped at little gelateria – Capri crema caffe, seriously worth checking out. The gelato was divine.
Chiesa di San Michele Arcangelo
As soon as you walk in the incredible 12th-century hand painted floor grabs your attention, beautifully depicting the narrative of Adam and Eve’s expulsion from the garden of Eden. There are wooden beams installed all the way around so you can admire it from every angle without stepping on it.
For an even better view, you can climb the spiral stairs up to the organ room and look down.
Sadly, as we had a late start to the day and trekking around the island took us longer than anticipated, paired with unreliable public transport, we didn’t make it to the other side of the island and the Blue Grotto.
The perfect reason to come back soon!
I’ll hopefully be sharing the second half of my Italian adventures in Amalfi in the coming days. =)