By Carol Pucci
Photography by Lorenzo Pesce
Stroll safely through Chiaia, a refined quarter of one of southern Italy’s most exuberant cities. Here, Vespa riders in slim suits rev their engines quietly and yield to well-dressed women carrying Prada and Gucci shopping bags. A short walk from the traffic-clogged historic center, the seafront neighborhood’s shaded plazas and narrow streets are better suited to walking than driving. Wander along a newly car-free portion of the lungomare, Naples’ seaside promenade, for views of Mount Vesuvius and Capri. Explore the sixteenth-century Villa Comunale park. Then choose among the bars tucked into a warren of back alleys and raise a glass to discovering a neighborhood the city’s elite have considered their secret for centuries.
Naples claims to have invented the pizza Margherita, made with fresh basil, tomatoes, and buffalo mozzarella. Waiters in black vests serve the pies in a white-tablecloth dining room at 97-year-old Umberto (Via Alabardieri 30/31; 39-81/418-555). Cross the street for grilled swordfish and stuffed squid at Antica Latteria (Vico Il Alabardieri 30; 39-81/012-8775), a former dairy with wood-beam ceilings and ceramic tiles. Chef Antonella Rossi of Ristorante Napoli Mia (Riviera di Chiaia 269; 39-81/552-2266) riffs on traditional combinations of seasonal ingredients to inspire dishes such as a carpaccio of red prawns with herbs, flowers, and coffee powder.
Cool off at Leopoldo (Via Vittoria Colonna 46/47; 39-81/416-161) with an icy lemon granita and a baba, a traditional rum-soaked yeast cake. Evenings begin with an aperitivo. Join the after-work crowd for an herb-infused Aperol spritz at the Gran Caffè Cimmino (Via Gaetano Filangieri 12/13; 39-81/418-303), or slip into tiny La Tasca (Vicoletto Belledonne 6 bis; 39-81/1936-2635) for local wines and a buffet of free bar snacks.
Look beyond the designer boutiques for one-of-a-kind finds. Giorgio Ricciardi does a one-day turnaround on made-to-measure silk ties at Giorgio Napoli (Piazza Amedeo 16/F; 39-81/1957-4756). Walk through a stone archway off the pedestrianized Via Chiaia and climb the marble stairs to find silver jeweler Valerio Pirolo in his workshop at Pietrasalata (Via Chiaia 184; 39-81/420-3246). Tucked into a historic palazzo, I Colori di Vietri (Via Gaetano Filangieri 11; 39-81/426-521) sells ceramic dinnerware from Vietri sul Mare on the Amalfi Coast.
Originally appeared in Virtuoso Life magazine, September July 2013.
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