I ate, I prayed, I loved

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On my last trip to Naples, I mentioned how I was disappointed by the quality of the pizza at i decumani.

After reading Eat, Pray Love, I became intrigued about the pizza place Elizabeth Gilbert visited and described so incredibly. I did a quick online search and found that, actually, Pizzeria da Michele (mik-yel-eh) was popular before Julia Roberts!

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We arrived at 7pm and there was already a big queue and took tickets to wait for a table, essentially a very unItalian, but organised system of queueing. Once we got in I was shocked by the place. The decor was stark and it looked like one large bathroom on the inside and from the outside it looked like a kebab shop that dabbled in pizza, burgers and a bit of everything! The menu was simple and only listed pizza margherita and pizza marinara (without cheese) and drinks were limited to soft drinks, water and beer. The prices were CHEAP and I’m talking Bolivia-cheap, with a standard Marg costing €4. The place was filled mostly with locals, which was  a good sign and there was a discreet picture of Julia Roberts displayed by the cooking area.

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The wait for the food was quite long, but it was a busy night (Saturday night) and O M G it was incredible. I’m not really very discerning when it comes to food and in general I wouldn’t describe myself as a ‘foodie’ but this was the best pizza I’ve ever eaten. The dough was fresh and crispy, the tomato sauce was rich and sweet and the cheese was great. The best thing was definitely the dough, which you could see being made right in front of you, before the whole pizza was put into the wood-burning oven. It was really nice to see that Michele wasn’t cashing in on the fame of Eat, Pray, Love and had kept their prices and decor the same; the only thing they ask at the end is for a tip, which, considering the outstanding quality of the pizza, is merited!

I’m so glad I tried this place and I’d recommend it to all who are visiting Naples! I can’t wait to return again next spring, when I’ll be working up an appetite after climbing Mount Vesuvius 😉 Michele, I’m coming for you!

Pizzeria da Michele, Via Cesare Sersale, 1-3, 80139 Naples, Italy, it is very close to the main train station, Napoli Centrale.

See Naples…and die?

999727_10201378141589514_2054586014_n ..Is how the saying goes. I don’t know who said it or why. Is Naples so sublime a city that upon seeing it you are free to end your days there…because of course, you have seen Naples. Or does the presence of the Mafia mean that your days are numbered and you’re lucky if you make it out of the city with your purse and your life?

A friend and I decided to find out and took a day trip there on All Saints Day (Ognissanti), a public holiday in Italy, which meant that everyone got Friday 1st November off. Yay. For €22 return, we were able to head to Naples, land of pizza and Pompeii to discover the true meaning of the above saying….

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And I still don’t get it. Whilst I enjoyed Naples, I think that there are a lot of other more beautiful cities in Italy to visit. If I ended my days having only seen Naples in Italy, I’d have thought I drew the short straw. On the other hand, the lack of tourists and “must-see” sites made it nicer to explore the city itself. To me, it felt like a slightly more decrepit, less beautiful version of Rome and I didn’t find the tourist centre to be run-down or any more dirty than other cities. It had all the scooters, cobble stones, washing hanging from lines.

Here are some of the best things we enjoyed in Naples:

The MAN (Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli)

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I loved this museum! €4 entry for Europeans and the MAN has 3 or 4 floors filled with ancient Roman mosaics, artefacts, sculptures, paintings and items pilfered from Pompeii and Herculaneum. There’s a hilarious ancient porn room and the basement is filled with Egyptian artefacts.

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Pizza

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We ate at I Decumani, right in the middle of the centre of Naples at Via Dei Tribunali. Our pizzas were served very quickly and they were good, but not quite Eat Pray Love good. The price was incredibly cheap and I got this margherita for €3.50!

Sfogliatelle

I found this an odd pastry, I still don’t know what was inside, but I had to try it as it is a Neapolitan delicacy!

Observing the infamous trash problem

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Which really isn’t as bad as people make out. Naples was a lot cleaner than I expected, but I’ve included this photo for shock value!

Piazza del Plebiscito

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Pronounced “pleb-eh-sheet-o” this was a lovely piazza, where there is a military parade at sunset. It is also close to the sea where there are beautiful views.

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I enjoyed observing the differences between Romans and Neapolitans. I can definitely say that the streets of Naples are nowhere near as chaotic as those of Rome, but what did make me laugh was seeing a family of three or sometimes four on a scooter in Naples. It’s a great city with fantastic history and is close to other incredible places like Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast, so it is worth a visit on the way to these other places.