We used to think of Naples merely as a place to pass through on the way to somewhere else—Capri, Sorrento or the Amalfi Coast to name a few. Recently we discovered what the Italians have always known: Naples is essential to experiencing the true Italy.
Micalo has an Old-World charm on the outside and a Neapolitan art space inside.
We discovered four delicious boutique hotels tucked away in the ancient streets in the center of the city. Costantinopoli 104 (011-39-081-557-1035) was created from the rambling Villa Spinelli and is set behind a gate at the end of a winding walkway. Ring the bell and you can enter a secret garden, far away from the city’s boisterous streets.
Inside, there is art-deco charm, with floors of checkered marble and parquet along with stained-glass windows, all accented with ancient artifacts and plush furniture. Tip: Ask owner Stefana Civita ([email protected]) to help you choose from among the 23 different rooms and suites. For the ultimate in privacy, take Junior Suite No. 104, which overlooks the garden and pool. Reflecting the shade outside, the suite is smartly furnished with green marble and draperies. For a family, connect this suite to Classic room No. 105, a gray-and-peach confection next door.
Naples used to be an afterthought, but seasoned travelers are now finding its unique vibe.
Suite No. 209 is a duplex in the main building with an Oriental theme in black, white and red with bleached-wood floors. It can be combined with No. 208 next door for a larger group. We loved No. 304, which has its own roof terrace overlooking the pool, a large bathroom and an overall sunny disposition. Note: There is no elevator at Costantinopoli 104, but the hotel only has three floors.
At Micalò, our next stop, owner and manager Michelle Lowe ([email protected]; 011-39-081-761-7131) has used native stone to create an island of calm. Giant boulders and cool stone floors punctuate the contemporary spaces. This chic little hotel is located in a restored building near the American consulate and has views of the sea and the grassy Villa Communale Park.
All of the rooms are duplex; our favorite is No. 5, a sea-view supreme double. Handmade linen sheets and stone tables set off the bedroom, while the bathroom upstairs is trimmed with the famous gray stone from Puglia. Junior Suite No. 6 offers both an office and sofa bed, as well as the double bedroom. Tip: This is the room for anyone demanding quiet, as it faces the courtyard. For families, combine No. 7 and No. 8, putting twin beds in No. 7 and a king bed in No. 8. The two rooms share a small veranda that overlooks the courtyard. Micalò also offers a small fresh dinner menu for guests in the dining room/bar overlooking the park and sea.
We wandered into the heart of the historic center to find the restored palace that was home to the last bishop of the Bourbon Kingdom of Naples. Decumani is a small hotel where breakfast is served in the grand mirrored ballroom. New General Manager Sandro Guida ([email protected]) reports that the restoration will be completed by May 1, when there will be seven additional rooms added to the current 11 already open for guests.
The rooms we saw had gorgeous ceilings and French doors to the outside. No. 205 is a standard room opening to a balcony above the vicolo, the tiny street, below. There is also an excellent bathroom with a large shower. No. 202 is a superior room, decked in ice blues, with a seating area and a bath with a Jacuzzi tub. The French doors open to the courtyard, which makes this room a quiet refuge from the city outside.
All accommodations at Micalo are duplex. The St. Letto Suite No. 3 also offers a park view.
Our last stop was the Chiaja Hotel, the 18th-century ancestral palazzo of the Marquis Nicola Lecaldano Sasso la Terza, which was restored by his great-great-great-grandson, Pietro Fusella ([email protected] aia.it), and dedicated to the members of this ancient family. There are 33 rooms in the hotel’s two sections. In the original palazzo, the traditional rooms are named after Granddad, Auntie or Mamma; across the inner courtyard, in what once was a brothel, the rooms are flirty and fun and named after famous ladies of the night.
We liked Superior No. 110, named after Zi (aunt) Checchina, which has a balcony overlooking the Via Chiaja and a Jacuzzi. No. 208 overlooks the street and is decorated with antiques. The 11 rooms in the former brothel all overlook the bridged second-floor courtyard, which was originally constructed so that the ladies could look down to see their potential customers. Our favorite was No. 205, the “Mimi do Vesuvio,” which is a Superior with a Jacuzzi tub and double windows. Naturally, it is decorated in passionate red.
We left the Chiaja with a raging appetite and found relief at the hands of a young Neapolitan chef, Lino Scarallo, at Palazzo Petrucci (011-39-081-552-4068) in Piazza San Domenico Maggiore. The delicious menu is complemented by the aura of minimalist sophistication for which the Italians are famous. Try the paccheri all-impiedi ripieni di ricotta, standing ricotta-stuffed pasta with a Neapolitan ragù.
Chiaja Hotel is situated in the heart of Naples and ideally located near the city's best shopping and restaurants.
For traditional local seafood, we always love the Varriale family’s restaurant, Rosiello (011-39-081-769-1288), overlooking the Bay of Naples. It’s been around since 1933 and offers every kind of fresh Neapolitan seafood imaginable. Dinner should be washed down with the Varriale’s Uva Rosa, a crisp rosé made from grapes grown at the family farm overlooking the Mediterranean. Dora (Via Ferdinando Palasciano 30; 011-39-081-680-519), a modest trattoria known for its food and great view, is also popular for seafood.
After a morning shopping at Ascione (011-39-081-421-111) for fine rings, bracelets and necklaces, make an espresso stop at Gran Caffè Gambrinus (011-39-081-417-582), which is near the Chiaja Hotel and was once frequented by the likes of Oscar Wilde.
Before leaving the city, stop at Giovanni Scaturchio (011-39-081-551-6944) for a gelato and some fresh pasticceria (pastry) for the next leg of your journey.