November 17, 2014

Naples and Campania

After two busy days spent exploring the great city of Rome, we travelled southward into the Campania region of Italy, the birthplace of pizza, Caruso and Sophia Loren. Before boarding a ferry to the next stop on our tour, the island of Capri, we visited the archeological site of Pompeii, the ancient Roman city destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Then we took a quick stroll through central Napoli, or Naples, the capital of Campania.

Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius

I'd been to Pompeii once before but this time we toured a few different areas of the site, like the gladiator training grounds and a theatre.

Gladiator Training Grounds, Pompeii

Pompeii Theatre

Exit from the Site

Afterwards we quenched our thirst with an icy lemon granita and orange juice, prepared with freshly squeezed local fruit. Italy is second only to Spain as a European producer of citrus fruit.

Chalet Donna Lucia, Pompeii

Lemon Granita and Orange Juice

There was ample time before boarding the ferry for a walk through the glass-roofed shopping arcade Galleria Umberto I, named for the king of Italy at the time of construction and designed after the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan.

Galleria Umberto I, Naples

Upon exiting the mall we walked past narrow streets typical of the old town until we arrived at the oldest coffeehouse in Naples, the Gran Caffé Gambrinus where Oscar Wilde once sipped coffee. The local specialty is la sfogliatella, a flaky, shell-shaped pastry filled with sweetened ricotta cheese. Unfortunately our pastry sampling had to wait for another day as we had a ferry to catch.

Narrow Streets of Old Naples

Gran Caffé Gambrinus, Naples

Sfogliatelle, Neapolitan Pastries

Next to Caffé Gambrinus is the largest square in Naples, Piazza del Plebiscito, named for the plebiscite responsible for bringing Naples into a unified Italy in 1863. The two major buildings on the square are the Basilica San Francesco di Paola with its Pantheon-inspired dome and the Palazzo Reale, the former Royal Palace of the kings of Naples.

Palazzo Reale, the Royal Palace of Naples

Basilica San Francesco di Paola, Naples

From Piazza del Plebiscito we returned to the nearby port where we boarded our ferry to Capri. We'd been warned that the crossing over the Tyrrhenian Sea might be a little rough so I took some Gravol, slipped on my accupressure wristbands and prepared for the worst.

Ferry Bound for Capri from Naples

I closed my eyes for most of the 50-minute sailing. The dips and sways of the boat resembled strong turbulence on an aircraft and by the time we docked, the pop cans in the snack bar fridge had been tossed into a jumble. I was a little groggy from the Gravol but so happy to be in one of my favourite parts of Italy, the beautiful isle of Capri.

Next:  Posh Capri Town

Related Posts:
Pompeii Today
Naples, Pompeii and Sorrento
7 Ways to Avoid Motion Sickness

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