Naples, Italy

The city of Naples may not be the first place you think of when envisioning a vacation destination in Italy. Many travelers pass through Naples on their way to the enchanting destinations of the Amalfi Coast - and with good reason, Naplesis a challenging city to be in, but missing out on the Napoli experience is a big mistake, or is it? Samantha takes on the challenge of tackling this city along the Mediterranean Sea and she's amazed by it! Samantha's first tip - hire a local guide. Marcello Uzi, a lifelong Neapolitan takes her for a stroll through Naples' Centro Storico - it's historic district. A walk down the streets of Spaccanopoli and the chaotic Pignasecca is to experience Naples at its greatest intensity - narrow cobblestone streets, bustling outdoor markets, scooters zipping in between pedestrians, and the rush of Neapolitans going about their daily business, this is the heart of Naples. It's an open-air museum, which reflects the diverse cultures that have left their mark on the art, architecture and customs of this city. There are some quieter spots to be found too. Samantha discovers the serene setting of the Cloister of Santa Chiara - a 17th century monastery whose garden is open to the public. Eighteen century Baroque frescoes amid majolica tiled columns and benches make it the perfect place to recharge. Un Caffe, or coffee, is big in Naples - but it's not like American coffee! Samantha steps up to the coffee bar at Gambrinus, a century old café to drink what Neapolitans drink for an energy buzz! Everyone knows that Italians are passionate people. They are also passionate and proud of their music - especially opera. Samantha steps inside one of Italy's most historic opera houses, the famed Teatro di San Carlo, where she learns a few new things about opera. In Italy it seems everything has a connection to food, and in Naples that food is pizza! Will it be Marinara or Margherita? Samantha takes a break in one of the city's most popular pizzerias - Da Michele, to taste test a pizza pie! Samantha finds Naples to be a city full of contradictions - it can be alienating and frustrating, but at the same time fascinating. It's an authentic place in every sense of the word that never comes to you in small easy to swallow bites - in Naples you always get the whole pizza!
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