In my previous blog about how to spend the Easter Weekend, I told you about my plans: going abroad to Napoli (Naples). Did you ever hear about the saying ‘Vedi Napoli e poi muori’, or more understandable, ‘See Napoli and die’? Last weekend I visited Napoli, not to die, but to enjoy the sun and the best food of Italy. Yes, the food; Let’s start with the most important thing right away!
Napoli is the city where the pizza Margherita was invented. Leastwise, that is the story that is going around. In 1889 the first pizza Margherita was made by Raffaele Esposito for the Italian queen Margherita, because she wanted to taste a local specialty. Esposito imitated the Italian flag by using tomatoes, mozzarella and basil. The queen liked the pizza so much that she wrote a thank-you letter to Esposito. By then, the pizza was named after her. Whether this story is true or not, it is a 100 percent true that the food in Napoli tastes like heaven and I would consider to write a thank-you letter for that. The fresh tomatoes, fresh buffalo mozzarella (this is really something else than the plastic balls Albert Heijn is selling), pizza, pasta, seafood, ice cream: it was too good to be true. Besides the delicious food, you can get your energy boost in the mornings, and every other moment of the day, from the authentic Italian espresso.
Although it’s very hard not to write 300 pages about the great food, there is more you should know about this city. Napoli is a vibrant city full of scooters nearly overriding you in the narrow streets, kindly greeting old Italian men, loudly screaming waiters trying to get you in for a pizza and students chilling together on the different squares. In the city centre, the visit to the Naples Cathedral, the Catacombs of San Gennaro and Castel dell’Ovo, were absolute highlights. A visit to Vomero brought back some peace in my head, escaping from the chaos in the city centre. Vomero is a hill, also called the ‘broccoli hill’ in Napoli. The area is more chic compared to the city centre and it provides a beautiful view over the city.
Vesuvius and Pompeii
Of course, we took our chance to visit the Vesuvius and Pompeii. The day didn’t start very well: it was Easter weekend and a lot of trains didn’t depart. And no, we couldn’t have known that earlier: the Italians see no point in informing people about changed train schedules. Same story with the bus up to the Vesuvius: it didn’t show up at all. In the end, we paid all our last pennies for another bus and it was absolutely worth it: the turbulent trip to the top, the volcano itself and the wonderful view.
Pompeii was once a city with approximately 11.000 inhabitants. The city had a complex
water system, an amphitheatre, a gymnasium, a brothel and a port. In 79 the Vesuvius erupted and the city was flooded with lava destroying the city, killing the inhabitants and burying it under tons of ash. The city was lost for 1500 years, but was rediscovered in 1599. Nowadays, it provides an extraordinarily detailed insight into the life of a city during the Pax Romana (Roman peace). During the excavation, plaster was used to fill in the voids in the ash layers that once held human bodies. This allowed one to see the exact position the person was in when he or she died. Pompeii is a city where you can walk through for hours, wondering how it was back in the days, amazed by what the Romans have build and what happened to it.
Being back from Napoli, I understand the extreme proudness (which sometimes tends to arrogance) of the Italians a little bit better. Italy is, after all, a great country to get fat and enjoy some culture!
By: Anna Verkuijlen