Well here it is, my third and final travel guide from my Italy trip! I’m so excited to share this with you all!
Saturday June 9th; Naples Day 1!
We left Florence early Saturday morning and took the train to Naples. I will say our first official impression of Naples was not great, because we booked an AirBnB a little outside of the center of city, which didn’t have the same aesthetic as Rome or Florence. However, our AirBnB was fantastic! We were located right next to the Line 2 train, which easily took us into the center of Naples or to the outskirts such as Salerno and Pompeii. The AirBnB had 3 bedrooms, each with a queen size bed and then one room had a crib and the other had a single bed. It is perfect for large families!
Once we were settled into our apartment, we decided to take the train into Naples and walk around. Initially we got off at Gianturco, which isn’t a great part of Naples to see. It was very hipster, with a lot of street vendors and dirty. We quickly learned that we needed to take the Line 2 train to Garibaldi, which was a great more modernized part of Naples. Garibaldi also connects to the Line 1 train, which takes you all around the center of Naples to great areas for shopping, restaurants, bars, and sightseeing. Our first order of business once we stepped off the train was to get some Gelato. We knew we’d be having dinner in a few hours but of course wanted a little afternoon snack to tie us over. We found a cute little Gelato Parlor called Casa Infante, which had a large assortment of gelato as well as other desserts and snacks to choose from. I tried a chocolate peanut butter flavor, which didn’t disappoint! As we were walking around we found our way to the coast of Naples and saw a Castel Nuovo which is an old medieval castle but now operates as a Museum. At this point it was late in the day so we couldn’t go in the castle, but it was very fun to walk around and view the city.
Naples has two staple items: 1. Pizza & 2. sfogliatelle (Italy pastry dessert) So our mission the first night was to find great pizza, which was successful. We found a cute little restaurant on side street that had both indoor and outdoor seating! However, if you want to sit outdoors, I suggest making a reservation. The name of the restaurant is Trattoria Pizzeria la Lazzara. My family and I ordered 3 pizzas to share and per usual, a bottle of red wine. This time we went with a Chianti Classico Riserva which is by Banfi, who also makes a great Brunello that we love!
Sunday June 10th; Naples Day 2
The second day in Naples was a busy one. My family is Catholic and my parents really wanted to go to mass in Italy. My brother found a great church in Naples called Cattedrale di San Gennaro/Duomo di San Gennaro. Even if you’re not religious, the architecture of this cathedral is something to see. It’s so beautiful with high ceilings and statues. The whole entire mass was in Italian, but if you’re catholic and have been to church plenty of times, you’ll easily follow along.
After church, we went back to the apartment to eat lunch and change clothes before catching the train to Caserta. Caserta is a gorgeous and quaint little town outside of Naples. Our whole reason for going to Italy was to go to Caserta, more specifically a little town outside of Caserta known as Statigliano . The reason for traveling to this destination is because this is the Italian home of the Colella’s and dad’s family, more specifically my grandfather’s family lived. Unfortunately, to get to actual town is very hard to do unless you rent a car, which was difficult at this point. We got to Caserta late in the day due to train delays so once we arrived we made the executive decision to just stay in Caserta and explore. My dad’s only request was to just see Caserta during this trip, so I was thankful we made it! Once we walked out from the train station we immediately noticed a HUGE and gorgeous castle. We decided to check it out and found out that this was the Reggia di Caserta. This was the royal palace of southern Italy many centuries ago and was originally built for the Bourbon Kinds starting with Charles Bourbon in 1750. The palace sells tickets for you to walk around and additionally you can by a bus ticket to take you around the Royal Gardens. The walk thru of the palace is gorgeous and there’s so much beautiful art to view. However, my favorite part was the gardens. There’s endless fountains and in the very back there’s a waterfall. Residents of Caserta must get public access to these grounds because I saw many people using this area to run/workout. The fountains had gorgeous statues built upon them.
After our tour of the Palace we decided to get something to eat before heading back to our apartment. We found a family owned pizza place around the corner of the Palace, which was amazing. My mouth is watering just reminiscing about it. The owner was the one who waited on us and was so friendly! He took great care of us. We again ordered pizza to share with a bottle of wine; Then of course we got gelato afterwards. My dad opted for sfogliatelle instead of gelato and man did he make the right choice. This pastry was lighter than air and melted in your mouth. I unfortunately forgot to take a picture! If you’re ever in Naples, Italy make sure you try sfogliatelle at least once. There’s nothing like it in the USA, unless you have an authentic Italian family member who makes it for you.
Now I’m sure you noticed that so far in all my travel guides about Italy, I have yet to mention eating cannoli. I know, I’m horrible. Well, I did think about it! I even ordered one at Antica Gelateria with my gelato. My plan was to eat my gelato now and then have the cannoli later with my family. Unfortunately, we got back to the apartment and we’re so full and tired we just laid around then went to bed; completely forgot about my cannoli! The worst part is, I left the cannoli sitting on the counter overnight so by morning it wasn’t good anymore 😦 I was so sad!! My mom and I both agreed we’d get another cannoli in the two days we had left in Italy, but it never happened. This is on the top of my list whenever I make it back to Italy!
Most tourists would have no reason to travel to Caserta, but if you’re looking for something different that’s not crowded by tourists, I’d give Caserta a chance!
Monday June 11th; Naples Day 3
Our third day in Naples is when we got to do what I wanted to do the entire trip, go to the beach! I loved all the cities that we went to in Italy, but I live in a city, so my one thing was that I wanted to escape city life and go to the beach, which is why I picked the Amalfi coast! Getting from our apartment to the Amalfi Coast was easy but very time-consuming. First, we had to the train, which as I mentioned before was right next to our apartment, and go to Salerno. This took about an hour and fifteen minutes. Once we reached Salerno, we had to get bus tickets to take the bus to Amalfi, this took another hour and a half. Long adventure! The bus was entertaining though because you’re driving on the winding, thing streets, up a mountain, along the coast so the view the entire time is gorgeous! Also, there are other stops along the bus ride if you want to go to a different beach. There are also buses that take you all the way around to Sorrento or Positano, but I think that ride was almost 3 hours. I’m sure there are other, quicker ways to get to those parts of Italy, but our transportation was the bus so we only went as far as Amalfi.
Guys, Amalfi is more beautiful that words can describe. The way the houses are built along the edge of the mountain and the way the water is clear and so blue makes you feel like you’re in a dream. It’s exactly like the pictures! I was a little worried we wouldn’t be able to find a spot to lay out but it was very easy! We got off the bus, started walking towards one of the beach areas that had open lounge chairs and got immediate service. The price was 60 euro for the 5 of us and he even brought us a menu to order wine and snacks. It was phenomenal. My mom and I ventured out into the water for a while which was so refreshing. My dad and brothers even stuck their toes in; this is a rare thing to see. They’re like cats, they stay far away from water. After my mom and I got out of the water we joined my dad and brothers back at the lounge chairs and just relaxed. We could have stayed all day until night, but the buses stopped running by a certain time so we had to pack up and head out if we wanted to eat before heading back to the Apartment.
We ate a restaurant right by the beach called Marina Grande, honestly, they’re food wasn’t the best we could find in the area. However, we were slightly strapped for time and wanted to eat by the water. They have 4-4.5 stars on TripAdvisor and yelp so we weren’t worried about poor food or service. The only reason I would have like to walk around and find a restaurant off the beaten path is because those places usually have the BEST food and they’re usually reasonably priced. Marina Grande was the most expensive meal we ate on the whole trip since it was in a very touristy location. Overall, the food and wine we drank was amazing per usual! We decided to go with a Barolo at this location and it did not disappoint. He came properly prepared, AKA it was chilled, which you wouldn’t expect for a Red Wine; however, this was the correct way to serve it (a new learning for me).
After our meal, we caught the bus back to Salerno then the train back to our apartment. It was kind of late by the time we got home so we called it a day.
Tuesday June 12th; Naples Day 4
Our final day in Naples and final full day in Italy was a relaxing day. There wasn’t anything we felt we HAD to do or see so we did a bunch of random activities.
The first thing my brothers and I set out to do was find a wine store. As I’ve mentioned in my Rome Travel Guide, there is nothing like the fresh wine you’re served in Italy. Our goal was to buy as many top shelf bottles of wine as we could muster. Another great thing about buying our wine in Italy, is you can’t beat the prices! We were fortunate enough to find a little local wine store down the street from our apartment called La Bottega del Vino (The store front sign say Enoteca A’ Putec Ro’ Vin). We went to this shop 3 TIMES! That’s not an exaggeration. The two men who owned the shop were so sweet and grateful for our business that they gave us a few wooden wine boxes for free! We got some great bottles (pics below). Full disclosure, it has been two months since my trip and I have yet to open one bottle I brought back with me. It’s an inner battle I fight daily lol. I want to open one because I know it’s so delicious, but then I want to save them for special occasions because I can’t just go to the store and buy another bottle that will be the same quality! I’ll drink them…eventually.
After we have our wine shopping adventure, we decided to venture into downtown Naples. There was nothing we had planned, we just wanted to walk around and tour the city. There’s nothing specific that I must write about from our exploration; I think it’s just important to take the time to do this in every city to truly enjoy your surroundings. Naples has many beautiful buildings, and it’s right on the water. We walked around, explored different shops and sights all afternoon. By late afternoon/early evening we were getting hungry and decided to do an early dinner.
This dinner was important to me because it was our last family meal in Italy. I wanted to find a great little restaurant with phenomenal food and wine. However, for the first time the whole trip this wasn’t easy! First, nothing opened for dinner until around 7, so we had to wait. Then the place we chose, Antica Capri, gave us HORRIBLE service (despite its great Yelp reviews) because we didn’t make a reservation. Also, they never gave us a wine list. They just asked if we wanted Red or White and only served us their Red House wine, which wasn’t great. Now, some may say that this just makes them more authentically Italian, which would have been great any other night, but our last night was supposed to be special and my brothers and I wanted to get a nice Barolo/Brunello or Amarone. I will say the food was delicious. The seafood was extremely fresh and the pasta and sauce was all homemade. If we could have had an actual wine list and better service, I think my opinion of this place would be much better.
After dinner, we decided we wanted to try desert at a different location. We found a place down the street called 7 Soldi. I wish we would have had dinner here! They had outdoor sitting in a little alley and they’re service was great! We order a fantastic bottle of Brunello and dessert that didn’t disappoint. This nightcap was the perfect ending to our amazing 10 day Italy trip.
This concludes my third and final Travel Guide for Italy! I completely fell in love with this country and cannot wait to go back, explore more cities, enjoy delicious food and drink top quality vino!
Never hesitate to reach out with any questions if you’re planning an upcoming trip!