by Tim Jepson, The Telegraph, March 1, 2018
Avoid the summer crowds with a trip to the bustling birthplace of pizza.
Why go now
Visitors are few and with spring around the corner there is already a chance of warmth. Catch La Traviata (Feb 27-March 4) at the San Carlo opera house (teatrosancarlo.it) and visit Longobardi, a major exhibition on the Lombards (museoarcheologiconapoli.it; until March 25). Connections from the UK come courtesy of BA (ba.com), easyJet (easyjet.com) and Ryanair (ryanair.com).
First choice among the grand waterfront hotels is the recently renovated Excelsior (1) ( telegraph.co.uk/tt-excelsior ). Doubles from £164, including breakfast. Closer to the old city is the Palazzo Caracciolo (2) ( telegraph.co.uk/tt-palazzo-caracciolo ). Doubles from £70, including breakfast.
Palazzo Caracciolo Napoli Naples, Naples, Italy
8Telegraph expert rating
Palazzo Caracciolo is an elegant refuge that combines historic elements with modern comforts, warm service and convenience – at an excellent price. Read expert review. From £70per night. Check availability. Rates provided by.Booking.com.
To see the best of the historic centre, start at Santa Maria Donna Regina (3) (Via SS Apostoli) and walk south to the Duomo (4) and on to San Giorgio Maggiore. Head north on Via San Gregorio Armeno to see three key churches – San Lorenzo, San Gregorio and San Paolo Maggiore (5) – then follow Via dei Tribunali west to visit the Cappella San Severo, San Domenico and San Pietro a Majella (6). Conclude with coffee in Piazza del Gesù Nuovo.
Pio Monte della Misericordia (7) (Via dei Tribunali 22; Mon-Sat 9am-6pm, Sun 9am-2.30pm piomontedella misericordia.it) is one of Naples’ more humble buildings, but contains one of Italy’s greatest 17th century paintings, Caravaggio’s Opere della Misericordia.
Tours of Naples’ ancient catacombs (Mon-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 10am-2pm; €9/£7.95; catacombedi napoli.it). On Sundays sign up for the Sacred Mile tour above and below ground.
Via Toledo (8) is the main shopping street, with designer and independent stores in the vibrant Spaccanapoli quarter and smart Chiaia district.
Donna Romita (9) (donnaromita.it; Mon-Sat 7pm-2am) is a pleasing mixture of cocktail lounge, wine bar and restaurant, with a limited contemporary menu of pastas from €9 and main courses from €12.
At least one pizza in the place pizza was born is a must: Brandi (10) (brandi.it) is a little touristy, but it was the birthplace of the Margherita in 1889. Da Michele (damichele.net) (11), in business since 1870, sells only Margherita and marinara. Trianon da Ciro (12) (pizzeriatrianon.it), founded in 1923, is also a touchstone for classic Neapolitan pizzas.
Off the map
Vesuvius, Capri and Sorrento are all easy day trips, but without the summer crowds. Pompeii, 15 miles to the south east (pompeiisites.org; daily 9am-3.30pm; €13, is the obvious out-of-town attraction. Take Sorrento EAV train services (eavsrl.it; €2.80 one-way) from Piazza Garibaldi to Pompei Scavi-Villa dei Misteri station (25-40 minutes).