Naples, Italy

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Cruising to Naples

A taste of real Italy

While Rome may be the epicentre of the most famous empire the world has ever seen, modern Italian culture draws its roots more from the city of Naples than it does from the capital. Deriving its name from the Greek word Neapolis - meaning new city - this bustling metropolis in the heart of Campania is the birthplace of both pizza and the classic Italian espresso, and so is the perfect place to come if you want to experience the cultural symbols for which the country has become so famous for over the past few centuries.

Strolling along streets like Via Toledo and the so-called Spaccanapoli (which literally means 'the street that splits Naples') in the historic centre, you won't fail to notice that food is a pretty big deal in Naples, and pizza is particularly abundant everywhere you look. There's even an organisation - the Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana - which protects the traditional Neapolitan methods for making pizza, so you can be pretty sure that anything you taste here will be of the very highest quality. Among the top restaurants in town are the likes of Pizzeria La Notizia, which can be found in the hills overlooking the city, and Pizzeria da Michele.

Another thing that will grab your eye as you explore the city is the architecture, with a huge array of medieval churches such as the Santa Chiara complex on Spaccanapoli, the Duomo (cathedral) and the Cappella Sansevero. A number of stunning statues can also be seen dotted around the city, with the monument to Saint Dominic outside the San Domenico Maggiore church being among the most impressive.

What's more, the city underwent an architectural renovation - known as the Risanamento - back in the 19th century, with several great artists and designers flocking to the city to take part in the project. Between them, they founded the Gran Caffe Gambrinus, which is perhaps the most famous coffee house in Italy, and can be found by the Piazza del Plebiscito.

Other highlights in Naples include the legendary Caravaggio painting entitled The Seven Acts of Mercy, which can be found at the Pio Monte della Misericordia, while a huge number of artefacts recovered from the ancient city of Pompeii can be seen at the Naples National Archaeology Museum.

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