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Welcome to the fourth issue of The Window Seat. We end the year at “Home” because it’s not just a place, it’s a feeling.

Naples sits right at the gates of the heavenly Tyrrhenian Sea. Credit: EyeEm

Naples: A City Guide

Enjoy a slice of southern Italy’s seaside paradise

Naples: the home of Italy’s most celebrated pizza, a plethora of ancient sites and an active volcano. Easily accessible by train, bus, flight or ferry, Naples is the perfect city break, especially one revolving around food. This southern city sits on the banks of the Tyrrhenian Sea, offering breathtaking panoramas and showstopping surprises for visitors and locals alike.

Each day in Naples will bring you a new look into its past. Explore the enchanting castle or historic Pompeii, the site of one of the most famous volcanic eruptions in history. The city’s decadent food, most notably its soft-crusted pizza Napolitana, tells a story all its own. Some visitors just come to Naples for the pizza alone. But we want to tell you, dear reader, that there’s more to Naples than pizza!

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Gino Sorbillo has kneaded his pizzeria, Gino e Toto Sorbillo, with passion, expanding it to New York City and Tokyo.
Credit: Pizzeria Gino Sorbillo

Food is at the heart of Naples’ identity. Like other Italian cities, Naples is known for its cuisine, from its aforementioned pizza to its stellar coffee to its abundant seafood. Upon arriving in Naples, you might be a little overwhelmed at the amount of choice, but don’t worry! We’ve narrowed down the city’s most phenomenal pizza spots so you can get a slice of the action.

First up: Gino e Toto Sorbillo. Don’t be taken aback by the chaos at this famous pizza parlor. Join the cacophony and place your name on the list of hungry tourists and locals all vying for a taste of its iconic pie (it’s so beloved that the shop has opened outposts in NYC and Tokyo). Enjoy an Aperol or Limoncello Spritz while you wait for your pizza and watch the customers and staff exchange friendly but heated banter. Once it’s your turn to pick up your pie, you’ll leave the chaos at the door. Inside is an oasis of calm, the perfect way to enjoy the melted cheese and tomato sauce. The best part of it all: the pizza is as affordable as it’s delicious.

Remember that scene in Eat, Pray, Love where Julia Roberts announces she’s in a relationship with the pizza she’s relishing? That pizza was from L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele, a Michelin-starred haven of baked dough. Photos of the movie icon dot the walls. L’Antica is a rustic spot with a simple menu of just two items: Margherita and Marinara pizza. Take a number and choose your pie. It’s a convivial, no-nonsense kind of space with guests sharing long, communal tables. Take the seating arrangement as the perfect opportunity to strike up a convo with your fellow pizza lovers.

What’s better than pizza in Naples, you ask? Deep-fried pizza in Naples. Since 1935, Antonio e Gigi Sorbillo has been serving mouthwatering, deep-fried calzone pizzas—pizza fritta as the locals call it—along with a classic pizza menu. If you’re ravenous while waiting in the long line, order some fried starters. We love the crocche (fried potato croquettes), arancini (crispy rice balls with meat sauce and cheese filling) and frittata (fried quiche). The eatery also serves cold, draft beers along with homemade desserts, making the Italian feast of your dreams come true. It’s extremely tough to grab a table here, so watch in amazement as your pizza is whipped up right before your eyes and savor the taste on a bench in a nearby piazza.

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Piazza del Plebiscito, the largest square in Naples, is home to many of the city’s most beloved monuments. Credit: Shutterstock

You’ll never run short of things to do in Naples. Its location on the Mediterranean affords visitors many opportunities to explore the historic city center and the seaside.

Central Naples is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and should be the starting point of any excursion to the city. Naples was originally founded as Palaepolis in 9 B.C. but was later renamed Neapolis (New City) by Greek settlers in 470 B.C. Check out Piazza del Plebiscito, the city’s largest square, where you’ll find impressive structures such as the Basilica San Francesco da Paola and the Royal Palace.

Anyone heading to Naples will surely want to see the ruins of Pompeii. In 79 A.D., Mount Vesuvius erupted, leaving Pompeii and its inhabitants submerged forever under ash and lava. History buffs will delight in the tours of the site. Explore the interiors of homes and shops to get an insight into how the people of Pompeii lived centuries ago. From Pompeii, it’s a short shuttle bus ride to Vesuvius. The volcano last erupted in 1944 but don’t fret: Vesuvius is closed to visitors when there’s any risk of an eruption.

Castel dell’Ovo (Castle of the Egg) is one of the most iconic sites in the city and the Campania region. Built in the 12th century, this Norman structure is the oldest castle in Naples and offers stunning, panoramic views of the city and sea. The name of the castle pays homage to the poet Virgil, who, it’s said, buried an egg where the castle currently stands. Virgil warned that if the egg ever broke, the castle would fall along with the city of Naples. So watch your step!

Visiting Italy and not admiring its art would be a true shame so make sure you pop into Palazzo delle Arti Napoli. Situated in the eighteenth-century Palazzo Roccella, you’ll find nearly 200,000 square feet of vibrant exhibition space. The museum highlights contemporary art in all its forms, whether painting, photography, video, animation, sculpture or architecture. The space hosts openings and visiting exhibitions so there’s always something new even if it’s not your first time in Naples.

Pro tip: Naples is the gateway to the Campania region in southern Italy, home to a host of UNESCO Sites easily accessible by train. For more info on day trips to these sites, check out our four-day itinerary to the region here.

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Grand Hotel Vesuvio

The glamorous Grand Hotel Vesuvio is worth a splurge. The boujee haven sits on the seaside, offering sweeping views of the Gulf of Naples, Capri, Castel dell’Ovo and Mount Vesuvius. Relax on the deck in one of the lounge chairs or soak in the private jacuzzi in your spacious room. Ornate chandeliers hang from high ceilings and long, elegant rugs cover marble floors. The breakfast buffet boasts gluten-y, fresh Italian pastries and a colorful selection of fruit, making for a perfect start to a sunny morning in Naples.

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Grand Hotel Vesuvio stuns with sweeping views of the sea, Castel dell’Ovo and Mt. Vesuvius. 
Credit: Grand Hotel Vesuvio

Relais sul Mare

Looking for a cheap but cheerful option? Relais sul Mare offers the same stunning sea views as a pricier hotel for a fraction of the price. The hotel’s bright and airy rooms feature neutral tones with blue accents. Make sure to book a room with a balcony for those gorgeous sea views. Relais sul Mare is situated in the heart of Naples’ promenade, where tourists and locals alike gather to take in the fresh sea air. Free Wi-Fi and access to rental bikes round out the amenities.