One of the new routes on Malta International Airport’s winter schedule is Naples, with flights taking off every Monday and Friday. The first images that spring to mind at the mention of the city’s name might be of pizza and sweet struffoli washed down by strong coffee, but Naples dishes out much more than just treats for the palate.
The capital of the Campania region is, in fact, historic at heart. Boasting a wealth of monuments in the form of churches, castles, and palaces, some of which date back to the 11th century, Naples’ city centre was declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco in 1995.
An amble down Spaccanapoli, the 2km-long street that cuts through this centre, is an excellent exercise in getting a good feel of Naples, adjusting your ear to Napulitan, and picking a couple of hand gestures that can help break any language barrier.
Ending up in Via San Gregorio Armeno will have you transported to the festive season. Aptly nicknamed Christmas Alley by English speakers, this cobbled street is dotted with shops of masters in the craft of making Neapolitan presepe, mostly known for marrying sacred and profane elements. In a Neapolitan crib, in fact, you can very well expect to see the Three Wise Men on their way to visit Baby Jesus, with Pope Benedict, Michaeal Jackson, and a Neapolitan pizza maker trailing behind. While the alley exudes a festive feel all year round, in December it becomes particularly lively and magical.
Naples’ unique location between a volcano – Vesuvius – and the Tyrrhenian Sea, allows visitors the luxury of enjoying two very different worlds in one holiday. The uphill journey to Pompeii to discover the ancient Roman city frozen in time by ash and pumice takes roughly half an hour, while the more fluid Amalfi Coast is around an hour’s drive away.