Mediterranean Spotlight: Naples, Italy

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By Roy Witman

From the exceptional architecture to the world-class cuisine to the astonishing natural beauty, Naples is a city that should be on everyone’s “one day” list. History and culture combine with a regal past to delight visitors with a violent past that has led to a bright future.

Pompeii

Can you imagine a volcanic eruption of such force and size that it covers your entire town? In 79 AD, that’s precisely what the citizens of Pompeii faced as Mt. Vesuvius gave forth her fury and literally buried the town, causing the entire population to perish, including nobility.

Now, centuries later, thanks to diligent archeological expeditions, the ruins of Pompeii can be toured by visitors to the Naples area. Much like a ghost town of the Old West, you can walk through the empty streets, taking in the distinct sense of bareness. The world’s largest Roman amphitheater is an amazing sight and should be the starting point of your exploration.

Mt. Vesuvius

Located on the coast of the Bay of Naples, Mt. Vesuvius has not erupted since 1944. Even with over 60 years of dormancy, it is still considered one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world. With a population of over 3,000,000 living in close proximity and the volcano’s tendency toward violent eruptions in the past, concern is held for those who live nearby.

Often described as a humpback mountain, Vesuvius has an obvious cone and distinctive crater that are easily identified by land or air.

Castel Nuovo

Castel Nuovo (“the new castle”) was commissioned by Charles I in 1279 in conjunction with the moving of the capital of Naples from Palermo. One of the city’s most famous landmarks, Castel Nuovo is currently the seat of city government. However, its courtyard fills every June with couples in love who wish to take their wedding vows. Points of interest include the Armory with its glassed floor which reveals the remains of a Roman villa and a medieval necropolis, the Hall of Barrons and the dungeon.

Capri

An island accessible via ferry, Capri is a popular stop for visitors to Naples. As you step onto the island, the scents of natively grown lemons and basil will likely overtake you. Clean and fresh, Capri is a delightful retreat you’ll want to visit again and again.

One of the most popular attractions is The Blue Grotto (Grotta Azzurra) – a must-see. As daylight enters through an underwater opening located immediately below the entrance to the cave, the light is filtered by the water. The red tones are absorbed, leaving only the blue ones to pass into the cave. The result is an astonishing aura of blues that simply defies words.

One of the best ways to see Naples and other cities within Italy is via cruise ship. Whether you choose to sail aboard the most famous ocean liners in the world – the Queen Mary 2, the Queen Victoria and the Queen Elizabeth 2 – or other cruise vessels, you’ll find the adventure and wonder for you and your family go far beyond what you might expect.

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