First off, I wish I’d had this book the first time I visited Naples! I will definitely be using it the next time. I’ve looked in at Barbara Zaragoza’s blogs now and then: The Espresso Break and Naples (Napoli) Guide, and I’m glad to have her info about Naples compiled in book form.
The subtitle promises “Tours and Nooks of Naples, Italy and Beyond”, and I would say the book delivers. The major highlights are covered, in greater detail than many books offer, and then come the hidden corners of Naples that you would never find on your own, like Mauro the glove-maker’s factory, and Japanese restaurant recommendations.
Barbara has also included some practical travel information about safety, driving, staying healthy, and using public transportation. Her advice on greeting Italians is spot on: A little Buon giorno will take you a long way in Italy!
The great detail and variety of information make up for the lack of color photos, as I always appreciate color in a guidebook.
After seeing nearly three pages devoted to the subject of trash in Naples, I laughed out loud at Barbara’s defense of the city’s dirtiness. Why is the city so dirty? “Neapolitans have preserved so much of their past that the buildings almost by necessity tend to blend into the natural look and feel of the ancient ruins.” Naples is just natural, and she suggests that other cities seem un-naturally clean. Well, my mom and I had a good chuckle over this, but I must say, please don’t let the city’s reputation for dirt and grittiness stop you from making a visit! I compare it to the gritty vibrancy of lower Manhattan–a sign of life!
The book includes lots of detail on the ancient sites around Naples and legends connected to them. She also includes a section called the “Odious Women Tour” which includes goddesses, queens, prostitutes, and revolutionaries.
Considering that many travel guides offer just a few pages to the entire south of Italy, this book is a treasure for visitors to the Naples region. If you have a day, or several, to spend in Naples, this book will help you fill your time well.