There’s a reason why Italy is known as “the world’s largest open air museum”: from the business centers of Milan and Turin to the early Christian churches in Ravenna and the Phoenician and Greek archaeological remains in Sicily, there’s practically something to be discovered at every step. Once the capital of the world’s largest empire, Rome is one of the oldest inhabited cities in Europe and serves today as the capital of Italy and as home to the walled enclave of Vatican, the smallest state in the world, both by area and population.
Naples – the capital of the Campania region and the country’s third largest city – has a long and turbulent history that goes back to the 2nd millennium BCE. Originally one of the Greek settlements established in Southern Italy, Naples soon grew into an important trading port. After being acquired by the Romans, the city expanded in size and later became the favorite holiday spot for the Roman emperors. During the centuries that followed the empire’s collapse in 476, Naples was under the influence of many kingdoms and duchies until the foundation of a unified Italian state in 1861.
The riches left behind by Naples’ long habitation history include ancient remains such as Virgil’s tomb and Serino Aqueduct, the medieval fortifications Castel dell’Ovo (Egg Castle), Castel Nuovo and Castel Sant’Elmo, the spectacular Bourbon royal palaces and a staggering 448 historical churches. This is where you’ll also find the best pizza in Italy, since the dish originated from Naples. The long narrow street Spaccanapoli – so named because it splits the city center in two parts –with its many pizzerias and gelato shops is a haven for food lovers. A stroll through the city center offers the chance to experience the city chaos, but also have a tranquil moment in one of the piazas along the way.
The Naples Municipal Beach and Pier is just a few steps away from the city center and offers visitors the chance to enjoy some relaxing activities like swimming or fishing. The pier is always open and this is the perfect place to visit at sunset.
One of the most popular attractions in the Gulf of Naples is the archaeological site of Pompeii, destroyed by Vesuvius’ eruption in 79. Due to the thick layer of ash that covered the city many artifacts were found intact when excavations were carried out in the XVIII century. Many of them can be seen at the Naples National Archaeological Museum. Nowadays the ruins of Pompeii, Herculaneum and Oplontis (modern name Torre Anunziata) are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Despite the fact that Vesuvius’ most recent eruption was in 1944, hiking to its top is safe and not particularly hard and the spectacular panorama is worth the effort. There is also a road that will get you near the summit but visitors can only access it on foot.
Close to Naples is Marina Sudcantieri, located in the Port of Pozzuoli. This private marina welcomes its visitors with scenic views and a vast variety of facilities.
Another ancient Roman settlement affected by Vesuvius can be found near the modern town of Castellammare di Stabia, about 4.5 km from Pompeii. Excavations are still ongoing here and have so far revealed several well preserved ancient villas. The town is named after a medieval castle overlooking the Gulf of Naples that offers a stunning view of Vesuvius and the coastline.
Here you will find the beautiful Marina di Stabia, where you can moor your boat while you explore the area.
From Castellammare di Stabia the road takes you down the coast into the Sorrento peninsula, the gateway to Amalfi Coast. On clear days, tourists can spot the island of Capri, one of Italy’s most fashionable destinations.
Like many settlements around the Gulf of Naples, Capri has been inhabited since ancient times. Its development started once the Roman emperor Augustus laid his eyes on the island and set about building aqueducts, temples and villas that eventually transformed Capri into a luxury resort. His successor Tiberius loved Capri so much that he built 12 villas here and spent the last 10 years of his life running the empire from Villa Jovis, the largest of them. Its excellent location atop Monte Tiberio (334 m), the second highest peak on the island after Monte Solaro (589 m), offers some of the most impressive views on Capri.
On the other side of the island, in Anacapri, tourists can still see the ruins of Villa Damecuta, located close to the famous Blue Grotto. There are only a few places in the world where visitors can see such brilliant blue waters and even if the wait to go in can take up to an hour, it’s well worth it when you get to see your hands glow under the water.
The ancient villas of Capri became an inspiration in modern times for many European aristocrats and artists who wanted their own private pieces of paradise. The French industrialist Jacques d’Adelswärd-Fersen built villa Lysis in 1905, just a few hundred meters away from Jovis; the Italian writer Curzio Malaparte commissioned a house on the eastern side of the island and the Swedish doctor and writer Axel Munthe built Villa San Michele in Anacapri, with spectacular views of Marina Grande. The house, decorated with statues and columns that Munthe found on his property, is the setting of his world famous memoir “The Story of San Michele”.
The panoramic Krupp road stretches from the Gardens of Augustus to Marina Piccola and it’s the best way to see the island’s beauty on foot. This rock-cut path was built by the German industrialist Friedrich Alfred Krupp who used to spend his holidays at Grand Hotel Quisisana, the largest in Capri. The building, with its distinctive yellow and large gardens, is located in the historic center of Capri, near the famous La Piazetta.
Nestled between rocks, Capri’s beaches are very small and pebbly. There are also rocks from which you can dive in the crystal clear water. The largest beach is in Marina Grande and the most popular in Anacapri, beneath the lighthouse. There are also a few beach clubs around the island.
Discover this beautiful island and have a great time at Marina Grande in the town of Capri.
Ischia, the largest island in the Gulf of Naples, has become more and more popular lately, especially since the publication of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels. Her vivid descriptions of Ischia, where the main characters spend their summers, brought in a new wave of tourists. There are 37 km of beaches along the coastline, hiking trails in stunning natural landscapes and therapeutic hot-springs used in the treatment of many illnesses, including rheumatic, dermatological and respiratory ones.
You can enjoy the best views of the island from its highest peak called Monte Epomeo, where the rock carved restaurant La Grotta da Fiore offers some of the best local cuisine. Everything here is made with fresh, local ingredients. One of the most popular dishes on the island is coniglio all’ischitana, a locally bred rabbit cooked in wine with garlic, chili, and tomatoes. Another local specialty is honey with citrus fruits aroma.
Among Ischia’s many attractions are the 2,500 years-old fortress Castello Aragonese in Ischia Ponte, the Guevara Tower near the fortress and Villa La Colombaia in Forio, former residence of Italian director and aristocrat Luchino Visconti that now houses a museum dedicated to him. Moreover in Forio you can visit the gardens of Villa Ravino where you’ll find an impressive array of cacti and La Mortella with tropical and Mediterranean plants.
We recommend mooring your boat in Marina di Ischia, a great choice for relaxing activities.