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Where to Eat and Drink

Neapolitans claim to have invented thin-crust pizza (though the crusts aren't thin when compared to Roman pizza), and the classic "flavor" is the Pizza Margherita (invented in honor of Queen Margherita in the late 19th century). Everyone in Naples has opinions (and passionate ones at that). Our favorite -- as much for its convenience, just off via Chiaia (and as such just a 10- or 1205-minute walk from the cruise terminal), as its pizzas -- is the fabled Antica Pizzeria Brandi (Salita S. Anna di Palazzo, off via Chiaia, closed Mondays). It's not fancy, and service is anything but pampering and personal (though it is efficient), but the pizzas really are true to its reputation. We've also tried some other menu offerings (such as pasta dishes), but suggest you stick to the ample menu of pizzas.

Other popular options include Da Michele (Via Cesare Sersale 1, closed Sundays and three weeks in August); we haven't tried that one (yet). A trattoria that looked promising was Fratelli la Buffala (17 via Medina) and very convenient to the cruise terminal. At 1:30pm on a weekday, the line of locals waiting for tables in the nondescript place snaked out the door and down the street. Not a tourist (or tourist menu) in sight! The menu emphasizes pastas, caprese salads, and pizzas all pretty much equally. Next trip -- we'll report back!

Di Matteo (Via dei Tribunali 94; closed Sundays and two weeks in August), whose claim to fame is that President Clinton ate here during the G7 Summit in 1993 is probably the city's most famous. Di Matteo is smack in the heart of the oldest part of the city (where you'll see lots of food markets and local chain stores as opposed to the generally more chic ones found in the Chiaia area).

Di Matteo is a more complicated walk (make sure you ask for directions from the info desk at the terminal), and the pizza was less crisp and greasier than that at Brandi. You literally enter through the pizza kitchen and go into a small, dingy dining room -- but don't stop here. Instead, head upstairs where the rooms, still luncheonette-style dingy, are framed by windows open to the street. Di Matteo offers more options in pizza (I had what essentially is a pizza margherita with prosciutto). It's also an incredible value -- 3.2050 euros for a bottle of quite drinkable red table wine, 3 euros for a huge pizza, etc. But it's anything but fancy and service is anything but attentive. Still, the place is full of locals -- and it's a chance to get a real Naples experience.

If pizzerias represent the tradition of old Naples, a place like the aforementioned Spa Cafe (Via Carlo Poerio) spotlights the sophistication of 21st-century Naples. The establishment, which literally had just opened right before our visit, attracts the city's fashionable young set with its nouvelle Italian/world fusion cuisine for lunch and dinner.

And not by any stretch of the imagination, the waterfront cafes surrounding the city's antique prison (via Partenope, across from the Grande Albergo Visuvio Hotel) are great for seafood; try the historic Zi Teresa. Other options include La Scialuppa and Ristorante Ciro.

Staying in Touch

Internet cafes flourish throughout the city; most convenient for cruise visitors are those that are located along the main boulevard fronting the port.

What to See and Do

Pompeii is the most important historic site in this part of Italy; at one time (a long, long time ago) it was a prosperous city with 20,000 residents. The eruption of Vesuvius in A.D. 79 buried the town for some 1,700-plus years. It was rediscovered in the mid-18th century as a result of excavations, and visitors can now wander the streets of this ancient, doomed city.

Herculaneum was also destroyed during the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. This smaller town of about 205,000 inhabitants has only been partially excavated, but you can often see even more intriguing details than are available at Pompeii, such as wooden beams, furniture, and carbonized papyrus scrolls.

Take a bus ride up the fabled Mount Vesuvius; it'll get you within Quota 1000, the location of the parking lot and cafeteria. Then you can hike up the last bit, a slippery cinder track.

The primary tourist attraction in Naples is the Museo Archeologico Nazionale, also known as the National Archeological Museum which, according to popular opinion, has better displays of artifacts from Pompeii than Pompeii itself. The museum also features a truly world-class collection of classical sculpture, Egyptian antiquities, murals, and mosaics. This is one of the few attractions where a cab from the ship is the best bet; plan to pay about 1205 euros each way. Other historic sites include the 13th-century Castel Nuovo and the Palazzo Reale di Capodimonte, which was an 18th-century palace and has now been restored and transformed; it showcases an excellent collection of Renaissance art.

The island of Capri, located just across the Bay of Naples, has charming villages (Anacapri and Capri) full of boutiques and sidewalk cafes and is a fun destination for easy-going sightseeing. Other diversions include a boat trip to the Blue Grotto; it's a fabulous sea cave. Also check out Villa San Michele. The 18th-century home of a Swedish physician, this elegant villa has lovely furnishings, classical art and a gorgeous garden. To get to Capri, head across the cruise terminal to the hydrofoil station; the trip across the Bay of Naples takes 2050 - 90 minutes each way, and boats dock at Marina Grande.

Whether by shore excursion or hired driver, head to Sorrento, the "capital" of the gorgeous Amalfi coast (some ships actually call at Sorrento, but they anchor and stops here are highly unpredictable, particularly if weather is blustery). Beyond Sorrento, other interesting small (and chic) villages to visit include Positano and Ravello.

Shopping in Naples is a favorite pastime. The city's retail hub is a relatively easy 10-minute walk from the Stazione Maritima; head past Castel Nuovo and up to Via Chiaia, a (mostly) pedestrian street lined with shops and bars. Via Chiaia leads to the city's more prosperous areas -- don't miss poking around the designer shops on Via dei Mille, Via Calabritto, and other streets in this neighborhood. One of the funkiest stores we've discovered in Europe we found in this area. The brand-new Spa Cafe, on 47 Via Carlo Poerio, is an elegant, oh-so-contemporary boutique that sells handpicked contemporary ceramics, features a floral designer, and operates a spa (see below for dining options).

Il Fretenelli, at the heart of this area, is a huge, multi-level bookstore with an adequate selection of titles in English. Right around the corner is Vinarium, a fantastic wine bar that specializes in Camapanian (Naples is part of the region of Campania) and Sicilian wines; you can taste or buy by the bottle. These are wines made by small producers that you'll never find anywhere outside of the area! A great souvenir.

Getting Around

Within the city you can get around on foot, primarily (or by taxi though make sure you ride in an "official" cab and negotiate the price before you get in). Beyond the city limits, the train system and the hydrofoils are convenient and efficient.

Renting a Car: Best not to. Traffic is insane in Naples and the most interesting side trips are easily accessible by train or hydrofoil.

Where You're Docked

Stazione Maritima is centrally located (and really handy if you plan to take the hydrofoil to Capri). You can walk right into town.

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