No Nos in Naples – What Not To Do Here

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Island of Procida, Naples

Some cardinal rules of life:

  • Don’t wash black bed sheets with white towels
  • Never cut your own hair after three margaritas
  • No matter how good the marinade, never lick a steak knife
  • Never ever EVER take a sleeping pill and laxative on the same night

Some cardinal rules for Naples:

  • Go. Now.

Located on the west coast of Italy, Naples is one of the oldest and most beautiful cities in the world. But to enjoy this unique port city with its famous food, rich history, pleasant climate and endearing locals, there are some cardinal rules  you’ll want to follow. Here they are:

Leave The Heels At Home

Naples tour guide Giuseppina Paesano recommends leaving the high-heels and impractical clothing behind. “Visiting the historical centre means walking a lot, so it is important to wear comfortable shoes,” he says. (Stilettos and cobblestone streets don’t mix well.) But don’t wear your short shorts either. You must have “appropriate dresses for churches” he says, such as garments that cover the shoulders and knees.

Never Ask Where The Nearest Boston Pizza Is

Naples is the birthplace of pizza. Literally. Since Naples churns out world-famous pizzas topped with the freshest of fresh mozzarella, do your mouth a favour and give it the real deal; in other words, “Arrivederci Domino’s and buongiorno locally-made delicacies.” Waste not one calorie at Da Michele where, since 1870, real maestros kneed homemade dough and stoke traditional wood-fired ovens . At this “Sacred Temple of Pizza” (so named by experts), the pizzaiolos abide by Grandfather Michele’s law that the pizza be simple but delicious, which is why they only serve two types: Marinara and Margarita, both of which only use the best ingredients including fior di latte mozzarella and San Marzano tomatoes.

Don’t Play Hooky From Church

Late night pizza and gelato binges combined with delicious wine tasting can send you into a food coma but be warned: many of the churches in Naples close by 1pm. And these are the type of religious structures you definitely want to see. For example, join Fabio Comella on his tour, Mysterious Naples and you’ll visit an underground cemetery complete with thousands of skulls and a killer cathedral (vials of blood are spotted en route).

Never Ask for Soy-Based Ice Cream. Ever

If you’re lactose intolerant, submit to sacrificing half your suitcase to Lactaid; the gelato in Naples is worth the few extra pairs of socks. Gay-Odin, situated in the heart of Naples, serves some life-changing white chocolate gelato that the lactose-intolerant shouldn’t have to bypass. Same goes for their semi-frozen truffles (that’s right, truffles-cum-ice-cream: a treat that should top all bucket lists). If your sweet tooth is craving something a bit warmer, however, Paesano recommends the Neapolitan specialties “nut-cream coffee and sfogliatella” (the latter is a treat consisting of light layers of flaky pastry dough wrapped around a dense filling of sweetened ricotta cheese).

Don’t Hang Around the Central Train Station

Many people arrive in Naples via the Central Train Station but Fabio recommends spending as little time there as possible. “Many tourists arrive and/or stay near the station, which is the worst area. It’s a real pity because just a few metro stops from there, there’s the historical centre, which is the largest in Europe and recognized by UNESCO. So book a hotel downtown and not close to the train station.” Fabio goes on to say the the subway is easy to navigate and it is relatively safe but be careful of pickpockets. “There are more robbers in other, more popular cities in Italy than here, however don’t leave your bags unattended…and don’t wear jewels.”

Ignore Yo’ Mama – Jump On A Motorcycle

Renting a car and driving around the city will ensure you miss most of Neapolitan history. So ignore your mom’s advice (just this once) and explore the city by moped or motorbike. You’ll be immersed in the sites and sounds and you can navigate through quaint cobbled streets and not have trouble finding parking. If ignoring mama’s advice is not your style, though, panic not: Marco Intraligi and Maurizio Buccioni offer epic, 9-hour Shore Excursions from Naples in air-conditioned luxury vehicles.

Fear Not The Underground

Toledo Subway Station
Naples is the type of place where you actually want to hear someone say, “To the dungeons with you!” This is where you can embrace the underground because, well, this is where you’ll find a lot of the most interesting history. In particular, visit the Toledo subway station, considered one of the most beautiful metro stations in the world. Also, check out the San Lorenzo Maggiore church to see a partially excavated Roman market. The kicker is that it’s not just ancient Roman ruins you’ll see down under – it’s Greek ones, too. Naples is layered, literally, with history. Put it this way: it’s not just the cool temperature deep down that will give you the chills.

Avoid Shopping Scams

Naples is renowned for its shopping but be warned: sometimes those unbelievable deals are not to be believed. Especially when it comes to electronics – it’s not unheard of to buy a camera from a street vendor only to walk away, open the box and find a can of pop. Bottom line: avoid this nightmarish version of a jack-in-the-box by satisfying your bargain-hunting needs with purchases from infamous road-side stalls. That said, the stalls selling lemoncello and bisoctti are unbelievable! (In a good way.)

If You’re a Grinch or a Scrooge, Stay Home

Remember when we said a cardinal rule for Naples is to “Go now”? That doesn’t apply to those out there who hate Christmas. Neapolitans love this December holiday and, interestingly, they’re fans of untraditional nativity scenes (untraditional because Jesus’s crib is sidelined, making way for village workers chopping wood, doing laundry, and butchering animals). There are plenty of storefronts on busy shopping streets that feature these unique scenes and you’d find out this weird tidbit as well as others on the Unusal Naples trip hosted by Veronica Maresca. And as a bonus, she will take you to the Carthusian monastery when you’ll see a nativity scene that is considered one of the finest in the world.

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