We were mentally preparing to leave the Nieuw Statendam after 21 days aboard and had just one more port – Napoli or Naples.
We knew pizza was invented in Napoli so signing up for another food tour excursion was easy. We love pizza! Unfortunately our tour guide was 45 minutes late due to a traffic accident and it was raining, It wasn’t a good beginning.
During the delay we learned from fellow travelers that Holland America offers cabin credit for shareholders in the parent company, Carnival Cruise Lines. We were already signed up for future cruises so Randy got on his phone and bought the necessary 100 shares of stock while we waited.
Our tour guide, Aldo, finally arrived and we walked from the pier into the city, learning some things along the way.
The port buildings were constructed in 1934, under the Fascist government of Mussolini. The architecture was very severe and uninspired compared to everything else we had seen on this trip.
Napoli is the densest city (very little open space) in Europe and the third largest city in Italy. Napoli is in the red zone for the still active Mount Vesuvius. The castle at water level is the “new” castle.
The “old” castle, above the city, was built in the 1100s during the French domination.
Previous structures on this site dated back to the 1st century BC when a Roman Emperor had his villa up on the hill.
We walked past the “new” castle that was built in 1274 under the third king of Naples. Being the king of Naples was not the same as being the king of Italy. The various kingdoms were unified as Italy in 1871.
This new castle was damaged during WWII and the damage is still evident between the windows above and below on the right.
This is the front of the new castle. The white portion was added in the 1400s and shows a transition from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. The temporary fencing is there because buildings from an old Roman port were found while excavating for a metro stop.
This picture shows what has been excavated so far.
We continued our journey and went into Passione di Sofi where we could sit comfortably and sample spaghetti omelets.
Aldo, our guide, was “tall, handsome, and hot” because he ate 1000 of them growing up. (That’s what he said and who’s to argue?)
A spaghetti omelet is made with whatever leftovers are available. Aldo described the recipe as “Mix 100 grams cooked pasta with 1 egg – or more to the same ratio. Put half in the bottom of a hot pan. Add leftovers, cheese etc. Top with the pasta mixture, brown and flip.” They were very good.
Moving on, we walked by the palace of the second king of Italy. His wife was Margherita. It was this Margherita for whom the Margherita pizza is named.
We walked through the Umberto Gallery for the first time. The gallery was built in 1880, the same period as the Eiffel Tower. It was built by King Umberto, (that second king of Italy who was Margherita’s husband), along with the rich families of Napoli, to give the people of Napoli something good after a bad cholera epidemic.
The lighter portions on the right side were rebuilt after World War II. We walked through the gallery several times as a way to get from here to there to escape the rain.
This is leaving one end of the Umberto Gallery. There is scaffolding evident on the right side for renovations.
Our next stop, San Carlo, started with wine and bread with olive oil.
Aldo was very interesting while telling us all about Napoli!
We had Caprese salad. Italy is famous for tomatoes and mozzarella was invented in Napoli. It was a delicious combination.
Finally, we got to the pizza! Queen Margherita was served this bread, tomato, cheese and basil concoction for the first time in Napoli and she liked it. So did we! We learned that in Napoli pizza ovens cook at 930 degrees, while in the rest of Italy, the ovens are usually heated to 700 degrees.
Aldo told us that the first groups of Italians to emigrate to New York were from Napoli because the king prioritized the north and there weren’t many opportunities in southern Italy. Pizza went to New York before it made it to northern Italy.
“Every time Chicago makes a pizza – Jesus is crying. That isn’t pizza!”
We were happy tourists on our Napoli Food Tour!
Everything ends with cappuccino.
There were several pictures of Sophia Loren in the restaurant. She is from Napoli.
Walking through the Umberto Gallery for the last time we stopped at a pastry shop and had sfogliatelle.
Sfogliatelle is a layered pastry about the same consistency of a croissant. Yummy!
The food tour that was delayed and had us walking through the rain was a true highlight of our trip. The food, and the tour guide, were exceptional. Naploli was one of Randy’s two favorite destinations on our whole trip.
We got back to the ship and found that Covid tests had been delivered to our cabin. The ship’s personnel didn’t know that we weren’t flying home and a negative Covid test was required to fly into the US.
We were to begin a land tour the next day and were required to be vaccinated but not tested. We had a bit of a dilemma. We weren’t going to lie that we were negative if we were positive, but we also didn’t have to take the test. In the end we did the right thing and tested. We were both negative and went on with a clear conscience.
As we left port, this gull rode on the lifeboat near our balcony for a long time! We were wondering if it was hitching a ride all the way to Rome -but it eventually flew back towards Napoli.
It was the best last day!