ROL Cruise recommends...
1. Take in the ancient wonders of the city
Recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Naples’ Centro Storico is full of monuments, churches and piazzas that retain the imprint of the area’s long and eventful history. To see several chapters of history in one building, visit the Naples Duomo, whose Gothic facade gives no hint of the Greek, Roman and Paleo-Christian ruins that lie underneath the church. Around the corner is the oldest spire in Naples, the Obelisco di San Gennaro. Erected in 1636, the spire was built in gratitude to Saint Gennaro for protecting the city from the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Santa Chiara is another highlight of Centro Storico. This religious complex features a church, a monastery, tombs and an archeological museum.
2. Visit Italy’s best archeological museum
Naples is where you’ll find Italy’s renowned National Archeological Museum, one of the world’s best collections of Greco-Roman artefacts. Visit this museum for a great introduction to the history of Pompeii before you head to the lost city itself. Of particular interest is the collection of mosaics from Pompeii’s Casa del Fauno, especially The Battle of Alexander against Darius – dating back to around 200 BC, this huge mosaic measures 20 square metres and is the best-known depiction of Alexander the Great.
3. Eat like a king
Given that Naples is the birthplace of the original wood-fired Neapolitan pizza, your visit to the city would be incomplete without trying the real deal. Look out for pizzerias displaying the label ‘Vera Pizza Napoletana’ (‘True Neapolitan Pizza’) – these eateries follow the standards of the True Neapolitan Standards Association. Satisfy your sweet tooth by sampling one of the city’s delicious pastries. Babà is a tasty oven-baked sweet soaked in alcohol, while sfogliatella is a shell-shaped pastry traditionally stuffed with a ricotta-based filling.
4. Uncover the lost city of Pompeii
Journey back in time with a visit to the one-of-a-kind city of Pompeii. When Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD, the impact was catastrophic. A large cloud of debris was ejected into the atmosphere, covering the region in volcanic ash. Then, a searing combination of pumice and ash as hot as 704 degrees celsius rolled down the mountain at 70 miles per hour, destroying everything in its path – including the city of Pompeii. For 1,500 years, the ruins remained buried under a layer of lapilli (burning fragments of pumice stone). Today, a visit to the lost city is the world’s most fascinating and haunting archaeological experience.
5. Succumb to the charms of Sorrento
Teetering on an almost vertical cliff ledge and surrounded by gorgeous turquoise water, Sorrento is a picture-perfect seaside town. You could easily while away hours wandering around Sorrento’s cobbled streets and exploring its designer boutiques, historic buildings and lively piazzas. It is from this area of Italy that limoncello originated, so be sure to attend a tasting session – nothing compares to a sip of limoncello made with real Sorrento lemons. Later on, an afternoon stroll across the peninsula will reward you with breathtaking views out across the bay towards Naples, Mount Vesuvius and the Isle of Capri.