Spaccanapoli – Naples, Campania, Italy
Joyously Chaotic Everyday Life, Neapolitan Style
Dive into the laundry-festooned back alleyways of one of Italy’s most vibrant and spirited cities for a glimpse of the histrionics and brio for which Neapolitans are known. Once an enclave of monumental palazzi and magnificent churches, the quarter called Spaccanapoli now bustles against a backdrop of time-battered tenements and workshops.
The city’s busiest neighborhood is slowly undergoing regentrification as Naples enjoys a cultural resurgence, and it is no longer dangerous to wander alone here. Narrow streets throb with local vendors, who hawk everything from contraband cigarettes to fried pizza and the mussels and clams brought in live from the Bay of Naples.
The city’s famous San Carlo Opera House may be one of Europe’s largest and most splendid, but Spaccanapoli delivers the spontaneity of street opera, and the curtain never comes down. Enrico Caruso was born here and kept an apartment in the historic waterfront Grand Hotel Vesuvio from 1905 until his death in 1921.
The hotel’s rooftop Ristorante Caruso and its views of the marina and the 12th-century Castel dell’Ovo may well have been the setting where someone first exclaimed, “See Naples and die!”