What are the best places to stay around the Amalfi Coast?
It's impressive knowing you're sitting in the shadow of a volcano and Naples does impressive well. Buzzing with people, music and food it is also a treasure trove of art and history. Fuelled by cappuccino (try the art nouveau Gran Caffe Gambrinus, former haunt of Oscar Wilde), it's worth exploring its busy streets where you'll see ancient parts of Greece meet Rome. Take in the Royal Palace built in 1600, then head to Via Toledo's shops. Nearby, Piazza Gesu Nuovo has a church with lavish marble and gilded interiors, while surrounding narrow lanes offer authentic bars. Head to the city's oldest market, Pignasecca, for a real blast from the past, then lunch at Da Attilio with the locals. Off the famous Spaccanapoli (the street that 'splits' Naples in two) you'll find plenty of cloisters, churches and more frescoes than you can throw a brush at. For a nighttime buzz, head to the well-heeled Piazza Bellini for an injection of buzzing bars and cafes. If you’re craving some downtime, head for upmarket and leafy Chiaia or south of the city to the coast.
The small fishing village of Porta Marina Grande is far from Grande and offers a ‘piccino’ picture-perfect place. If you fancy ice cream (and classes), head to Piazza Vittoria; from there, turn onto Via Padre Giuliani. It's here you'll find a gelato paradise, including seasonal flavours of wisteria and mulberries. If you're here during the summer (July to September), don't miss the Sorrento Festival, which is crammed with jazz and classical music held in amazing historic venues.
While in Amalfi, why not learn about the area's 18th Century papermaking golden era amid wraparound scenery? Set within a gorge, complete with streams that open into the sea, there are now only two paper mills where there were once 16. The Museo della Carta is set inside a 15th Century mill and documents the history of papermaking from what was originally cotton rags.
Pompeii is where historian Mary Beard described as being the only place in the world where you can begin to understand, face-to-face, how Romans really lived, from brothels and lavatories to the posh dining rooms and lavish bathing spots. There are side streets to explore and plenty of stuff left from when Vesuvius erupted in AD 79. Around 3,000 of its 20,000 inhabitants didn't escape the disaster and a few have been preserved as some of the town's biggest attractions. Spot the cart tracks that score out early one-way systems and gardens that are being reconstructed. On top of that, of course, there’s the Forum (the main piazza), the bath buildings and the amphitheatre to see.