From Switzerland, Naples is just a hop away. The InterCity runs from Zurich to Milan several times per day, and from there, it’s a direct ride aboard the Frecciarossa high-speed train. Southern Italy, however, is a world apart from the Alps. In place of snow-capped mountains, a lobotimized Vesuvius lingers forlornly in the distance—a heavy reminder of nature’s wrath and the fragility of civilization. But zoom in a little closer and you’ll discover a Napoli buzzing with lights, traffic, and life.
Friday: Classic and Casual Naples
Arrive in Naples, look both ways before crossing anything, and check into Cara Napoli for some genuine Italian hospitality and rich, aromatic caffè.
Get in line at the Teatro di San Carlo and enjoy an evening concerto or opera set to a backdrop of plush red velvet and gilded stucco.
Trade classic for casual and tuck in to a cult favorite: pizza fritta—a traditional Neapolitan deep-fried pizza stuffed with ricotta, provolone, and local salami.
Saturday: Uncovering Pompeii
Catch the regional train south to Pompei (with one i), skip the chauffeurs in front of the train station and instead, take a stroll on foot to the old Roman ruins of Pompeii (with two i’s). On the way, stop by the Pontificio Santuario della Beata Vergine del Santo Rosario (or in layman’s terms, “the big church”) and admire the view.
Pass through the Lupanar of Pompeii. Lupanar, literally “wolf den,” was the Roman word for brothel, and a prostitute was a lupa, or “she-wolf.” (Is this lycanthropy?) The ancient establishment is a trove of erotic art and graffiti, and offers a rare peek into the lives of citizens of the Roman Empire, who, wouldn’t you know it, were just as perverse as we are.
Take a rest in the Forum of Pompeii—the once commercial, religious, and social center of the city. Imagine its temples, shops, and basilica bustling with activity and discourse before their destruction and hermetic entombment underneath layers of ash and pumice in 79 A.D.
Skip the conventional dinner and sample some street food like frittatine, deep-fried pasta croquettes. They may look questionable, but taste like your perfect Italian dream man would taste like if he were pasta. (Sorry.)
Head over to Piazza Bellini and absorb the local night life.
Sunday: Indulge in Ischia
After a day of walking through history, hop on a ferry from the port of Naples to neighboring island Ischia and explore another side of Southern Italy. (Depending on the timing of the ferries, alternative day trips to cinematic Procida or glamorous Capri are also great options.)
Lunch on the waterfront of Ischia Porto. There are plenty of cafés and restaurants along La Riva Destra, the right stretch of the harbor.
Skip over to the beach and take a quick nap at Bagno Ippocampo, which provides complimentary sun-beds with the purchase of a refreshment from the bar.
Promenade down Corso Vittoria Colonna, the main street of the town of Ischia, and browse through its boutiques. Take a break when you reach Gran Caffè Vittoria and order one of their scrumptious cream cakes.
Enjoy the splendid view of medieval Castello Aragonese and the Gulf of Naples over an Aperol Spritz from the deck of the Miramare e Castello.
Board the ferry back to Naples and take in the beautiful Mediterranean sunset.