Through the years, Cookly has made friends, partners, and collaborators all over the world. Friends who share our obsession with cooking, food, and food cultures. We constantly benefit from their expertise and knowledge, their love for what they grew up eating.
That Guy From Naples is a great friend of ours from the south of Italy. He’s currently giving cooking classes online and in-person on the island of Capri and is a travel consultant for people who want to truly discover what southern Italy has to offer. His instagram is a constant stream of delicious food, recipes, and thoughts on anything and everything.
Below, he will introduce his world to Cookly Magazine readers. As a follow-up, he will dig into what exactly a Neapolitan pizza is, what makes it special, and where his favorite places in Naples are to get it. We look forward to his ongoing contributions and hope you do too!
I’ve been living in Naples for 25 years before moving to other destinations. During my young age, I was enjoying the city as a local, and like many locals, I was taking many aspects of it for granted. The beauty, the culture, the kind weather, the art, and the people were all summed up in one sentence: Yes, I know it!
It was when I started to look at my hometown from far away that I really started to appreciate the pros and cons about the city that gave me so much at my young age; a relation of love and hate that has taken the love direction at every visit I paid during my life as an expat.
During my yearly visit, I witnessed a tangible improvement of the city’s life. Not being there all the time allowed me to look at the changes step by step. Changes that are probably undetectable if you live in a place every day. It’s a bit like when you are on a diet and slowly losing weight without noticing it, until you meet a friend that you haven’t seen for a while and they make you notice it. I’ve been that friend looking at Naples from afar for 15 years.
One of the areas that was and still is a must when I’m in Naples is the “Centro Storico”. Walking through the “Centro Storico” of Naples is always a great experience. Every corner reveals something new at different times of the day. The same spot can be a shop during the day and a resting area for locals in search of fresh air during the evening, or a playground for the neighbor’s kids looking for available space into the crowded city dwellings. One other aspect I noticed is that in the past 15 years the old area of the city has been populated by people coming from all over the world. People that with time became an integral part of the local economy. Changing the liveability of the city for the better, making it the meeting point of different cultures. Enriching an already diverse city environment. A respect that those people pay to a city that has been able to welcome diversity since the early stages of her life. A walk through the Centro Storico reserves surprises even if you are a local and have been part of its tight alleys life for years.
Only in recent years has the Centro Storico became a tourist destination, thanks also to the recognition by UNESCO as a World Heritage Centre. However, I believe that the main reason for its success with mass tourism lies in its beauty, in the literal meaning of aesthetic. Many are the cultural and artistic attractions of the area. The exact number of churches, museums, and sightseeing spots are unknown even to Neapolitans. You could just walk around and be amazed by the richness of the architecture of a city that has roughly 2500 years of life. The layers on which the city has been built on are still very visible, making Naples a one-of-a-kind city facing the Mediterranean Sea.
Naples is not new to tourism. It has been a cultural destination for centuries. A huge commercial port in ancient times and later, during the monarchy times, Naples was one of the cultural and economic capitals of Europe. It all changed after the unification of Italy, when, with a strategic campaign, the northern “states” of Italy invaded the southern territories under the excuse to unify the populations under one flag. But the target was to dry up the treasury of the Banco di Napoli and the lands of the region, to pay back debts with France and England due to failed war campaigns of the time.
Since then, Naples and the South of Italy have been denigrated through economic policies, media, and film productions, building up a reputation that still has its place in people’s imaginations. But in recent years, thanks to the lower cost of traveling and the spreading of the Internet, Naples has seen a growing interest in what the city has to offer and people have been able to witness the city in person. The city has finally been able to talk to people, exposing her contradictions, quality, and values without filters. Becoming a national and international tourist destination that sees numbers of visitors growing year by year.
In addition to the artistic and cultural heritage, the city center, even if packed with tourists, still retains its local flavor. Locals still inhabit the alleys’ typical homes called “Vascio”, literally translated to “low”, due to its position on the ground floor. Houses that most of the time have only a door facing the street, pushing the inhabitants to look for fresh air outside their houses and community gatherings that can go on all night during summer with colorful discussions about the neighborhood life.
If you are, as I am, a lover of “city’s ground floor life” , the Centro Storico of Naples has much to offer. Shops, local life, businesses of any kind, street artists, bars, restaurants are all part of apparent chaos that in reality is ruled by spontaneous organizations that have been in place since forever.
More recently, the city of Naples came under the international spotlight for another UNESCO’s recognition. This time not for the many artistic attractions spread all over, but for an “element [that] fosters social gatherings and intergenerational exchange, and assumes a character of the spectacular”.