Cheap flights to Naples
Naples is loud and brash, but one thing it isn’t is boring. Great food, world famous archaeological sites, and arguably Italy’s most picturesque coastline ensure that there is never a dull moment in this busy town. Pizza, ice cream, noisy vespas and towering volcanoes spring to mind when you mention Naples. And while this city doesn’t boast the elegance of rival destinations like Venice or Rome, it more than makes up for it in the culture stakes. Rome may have the Colosseum and the Pantheon, but Naples has Pompeii and Herculaneum; two Roman towns preserved forever by a volcanic eruption in 79 AD.
As you’d imagine, Naples’ museums are also fit to burst under the weight of antiquities on offer from these two marvellous archaeological gems. Oh, and the city’s old town is also a World Heritage Site, so be sure to give it a wonder. But with its mix of Arab, Spanish, French and Norman influences, it’s Naples’ cuisine that sets it head and shoulders of the competition. This is the home of pizza after all.
The Museo Archeologico Nazionale is a former palace housing ancient antiquities, and it's slowly undergoing change. As ever, the infamous Gabinetto Segreto (Secret Cabinet) pieces from Pompeii and Herculaneum elicit titters and blushes. A new collection opened last November as part of ongoing restoration initiatives in one of its grand courtyards. Under a contemporary glass pavilion the new 'Beni Culturali invisibili' (Invisible Cultural Heritage) exhibition reveals exquisite Roman statuary from the Bay of Naples, brought to light after years of neglect in dusty corners of the museum.
Dive below the scorching and noisy surface of the Greco-Roman Centro Antico in the summer midday heat and discover the city's ancient tunnels hewn out of the volcanic tufo rock. Strange tales and eerie spaces await. napolisotterranea.org
The Chiaia district boasts the PAN arts centre (60 Via Dei Mille) and a host of small independent contemporary art galleries. Lia Rumma's Naples outpost (the other is in Milan) is a suitably whitewashed space with changing exhibitions by the likes of Abramovic, Kounellis, Mulas and Zorio (12 Via Vannella Gaetani).
Running up to Christmas, many throng the narrow centro antico lane Via San Gregorio Armeno to view Neapolitan nativity scenes ("presepi"). Shops are filled with traditional figurines of a certain stable scene alongside contemporary celebs set in quirky tableaux. Head to the Pietrasanta church on Via Tribunali to see the most exquisite nativity creations.
An off-season day trip to the Golfo di Napoli's most coveted island of Capri provides the chance to sample chic shopping lanes, hidden bays and limestone cliffs without the crowds. Take the ferry (80 mins) from Calata Porta di Massa or the faster hydrofoil (50 mins) from nearby Molo Beverello.
Escape the Christmas shopping crowds by taking to the sea to visit the nearby island of Procida, with its pastel-hued fishing harbours, volcanic crater bays and market gardens. Take a ferry or hydrofoil from the ports of Naples or Pozzuoli.
Sample the natural beauty and chic streets on a hydrofoil day trip to the nearby island of Capri. Don't miss a single-seat cable-car ride to its highest point, Monte Solaro, for stunning views over the Bays of Naples and Salerno. capritourism.com
Deemed by UNESCO as an outstanding example of a Mediterranean landscape, the Amalfi Coast is looking at its sparkling best at this time of year, with craggy, forest-framed mountains disappearing into the crystal-clear, aquamarine sea. amalfiscoast.com