Do you know when you stumble on something really magical? I almost don’t want to share Via San Gregorio Armeno, Naples, but it is Christmas, so I must.
We arrived in Naples via a cruise ship, Carnival Sunshine. Coming from our cruise ship bubble, it was a little bit of a culture shock. It feels anarchic and dark in places. It is a student city and less wealthy than more Northern parts of Italy. We were warned to keep our possessions close to hand, the kids were a bit taken aback by seeing more poverty and homelessness, graffiti and rubbish, but somehow it felt more real and the treasure we stumbled upon was far, far more rewarding.
There are two things you must do in Naples, other than see it and die, you must eat pizza, which was invented here, and visit the incredible Via S Gregorio Armeno, a narrow pedestrian street dedicated to Christmas.
Via San Gregorio Armeno, is the street of the Christmas Nativity Scene makers, you can buy all manner of nativities, many with moving parts, and Christmas decorations, as well as all kinds of bits and pieces to put together your own Christmas scene. Or even a pizza themed scene.
The scenes can move, some even have water features, you name it your nativity makers can make it happen:
My children were utterly fascinated by this street, from buying tiny baskets of fruit and vegetables.
To tiny boxes of food stuff…
To stocking up on sheep and wise men…or wooden red hot chilli pepper Christmas decorations.
Grown ups can also shop for larger, more ornate Christmas features…
There are opportunities to pose with well known religious figures…or a punk. I told you Naples was anarchic.
Via S Gregorio Armeno led to more busy streets and fascinating alley ways, and archways leading to cafes, shops and churches.
Beauty and anarchy, life and death, such fascinating contrasts, my pirate-mad then 5yo couldn’t take his eyes or hands off this skull and crossbones outside a church.
Need to know
Naples is THE place to eat pizza, pizza was invented here. THE place to eat it, according to endless critics and, as immoraltised in Eat Pray Love, is L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele. Sadly I did not know this, and we wandered around for ages looking for somewhere to eat great pizza – but the pizza we ate was still utterly incredible, in fact I would cast aside Christmas dinner to eat that meal once more!
Via San Gregorio Armeno, Naples – this is a fairly long, but just about doable walk from the cruise port, but with little legs and when feeling new to the city you might prefer a cab.