- Walking Through Naples's Historic District: Maybe it's a bit defiant, given all the negative press about garbage and the Camorra (the Neapolitan equivalent of the Sicilian Mafia), but we find it exhilarating to be able to enjoy Naples's stunning art after it was literally hidden in grime for decades. Its collection of exquisite frescoes, paintings, and sculptures is now available to visitors in its numerous monasteries, palaces, churches, and museums. Kings and noble families have lavished art on the city as nowhere else in Italy (excepting Rome), making Naples a rival to Florence and Venice in terms of the sheer volume of sights to be seen. A key stop for art lovers during the Grand Tour, Naples was later forgotten due to the total abandonment of its monuments. But thanks to sustained efforts over the past 15 years, the city is again experiencing a tourism boom.
- Exploring Capri: The most glamorous of all the Mediterranean islands remains a magical destination in spite of the crowds of tourists that flock to its shores. To get the best of Capri, come early or late in the season and plan to stay overnight.
- Arriving in Naples by Boat: While arriving in Naples by car can be nerve-racking, confusing, and hot, with most landmarks annoyingly out of view, gliding into the Bay, with a sea breeze behind you and the city spread out ahead of you, can be magnificent. The majestic and somewhat ominous presence of Mount Vesuvius looming over the Bay makes it that much more dramatic. You can arrive by regular ferry from one of the islands or even from one of the other harbors in Campania, such as Salerno or Sorrento. We highly recommend arriving in the very early morning or in the evening, when the sun is sinking below the horizon, bathing the city in a magical gold and orange light; you'll instantly understand the motivation behind the old saying, "See Naples and die."
- Hiking the Ancient Paths of the Amalfi Coast: Taking a stroll on one of the Amalfi Coast's footpaths -- once the only means of communication between local towns -- is the best way to soak up the intensity of this amazing seascape. Whatever your level of fitness, you'll find a stretch of path to suit you. Trails come in all levels of difficulty, from flat stretches (such as the footpath from Amalfi to Atrani) to steep ones (such as the footpath from Ravello to Minori) to even more demanding ones (such as the Sentiero degli Dei and the Via degli Incanti from Positano). The region's main road, the famed Amalfi Coast Drive, was built in 1840 and made the area more accessible, perhaps too much so. The old trails, on the other hand, are unique, and lead you through an Amalfi Coast that is missed by many tourists.
- Exploring the Greek Ruins in Paestum: The first colony the Greeks established in Italy was Cuma, near Pozzuoli. From there, they spread south to inhabit the rest of the Campanian coast. The heritage they left in the region is immensely rich -- rivaled in Italy only by Sicily -- and in a state of conservation seen only in Greece itself. This is Magna Grecia, where ancient Greece first spread its influence into Italy, setting the stage for what we now call Western Culture. In these temples and towns, you literally get the chance to walk in the footsteps of Plato and Aristotle's contemporaries.
- Eating the Best Pizza in the World: Pizza was invented here, in the narrow lanes of Naples's historic district, and for Neapolitans, their pizza is the only "real" one, thick yet soft-crusted and fragrant. Whether you prefer to sample it in a simple pizzeria or at a more elegant restaurant, you'll share the pride Neapolitans feel for their invention, now adopted by the whole planet. The decor in many pizzerie is simple and traditional (sometimes nonexistent), and, in the most authentic places, you'll find only a limited choice of toppings -- only two at Da Michele, which is reputed to make the best pizza in Naples. Yet wherever you choose to eat, we guarantee that your pizza will be tasty, satisfying, and distinctive, because in Naples, no two are alike.
- Shopping for Christmas Cribs in Naples: Naples is one of the best cities in Italy to visit in the run-up to Christmas when the traditional art of crib making, a craft that has been carried out in the city by skilled artisans for hundreds of years, makes its annual appearance in the spotlight. Neapolitan presepi (cribs) feature a range of lifelike figurines that are placed in intricately built nativity scenes along with animals, angels, food, and drink. Neapolitan families build their own presepi at home each year, scouring the narrow streets of the SpaccaNapoli for new additions to their scenes. The shops selling presepi are mostly based in and around ancient Via San Gregorio Armeno, just off the SpaccaNapoli, which turns into one big Christmas crib in early December complete with twinkling lights and canned Christmas music. Much of what you see in the shops is mass produced.
- Wandering Through Ancient Roman Lanes in Pompeii: Walking among ancient ruins is romantic and sad, and even a little creepy at times. Campania affords you many opportunities to live this unique experience. Of all the sites in the region, Pompeii and Herculaneum are the most justifiably famous: Walking their streets gives you a particularly eerie feeling. At the center of the lanes' mesmeric attraction is the knowledge that their violent destruction and miraculous preservation both happened on one terrible day nearly 2,000 years ago. And somehow it feels as if it is always that day here. Imagination easily bridges the gap to the time when these rooms resounded with talk and laughter (or, for more morbid minds, screams and cries of terror). Yet the best sites in the region might be some of the lesser known, such as the magnificent Villa di Poppea, in Oplontis, with its wonderful frescoes; the Villa Arianna and the Villa di San Marco, in Castellammare di Stabia; and the Villa Romana of Minori.
- Attending the Ravello Festival: There are many excellent summer music festivals held in Italy, but one of the very best takes place in Ravello. The oldest music festival in Italy, it is noteworthy not only for the quality of its top-notch performances from internationally known musicians but also for the breathtaking venues; it's worth trying to get a ticket even if you are not normally a classical music buff. Running from June through November, concerts are held in magical venues such as the gardens of Villa Cimbrone and Villa Rufolo where a stage is constructed on a terrace overlooking the sea; from where the audience sits, the musicians seem suspended in the air. Truly magical.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.