this is the place to be in and around Naples

Statue Joost Stokhof

Iris de Brouwer (45) has now lived in Naples, in southwestern Italy, for sixteen years with her Neapolitan husband Peppe and their two children. He came from Scampia, one of the infamous neighborhoods of the city, read/watch gomorrah except, she came from Nieuwkoop. A difference of day and night. “At first I didn’t understand Naples at all,” she says. ‘The bleak appearance, the garbage on the street. Only much later, when I had learned Italian and looked around and tasted everything, did I fall in love with this raw, warm, human city, where all the senses are stimulated.’ First, De Brouwer taught English, then she started writing about Naples and giving tours. When in 2020 Nola, the cat of Iris’ Dutch girlfriend Leny Boerstra, was lost in the lockdown and only came back completely wild after six days, the friends wrote a letter together. children’s picture book about Nola’s adventures in the streets of Naples: Lost in Naples

Lost Streets

Iris de Brouwer: ‘It is not difficult at all to get lost in Naples. Certainly not in that labyrinth of dark streets of the Quartieri Spagnoli, with all those smells and sounds, washing laundry, loud street vendors, crackling scooters, women lifting a basket of bread. in our book Lost in Naples Cat Nola ends up on La Pignasecca. That is the oldest market in Naples behind Via Toledo, a local market with vegetables and large containers of fish, shells and swordfish.’

La Pignasecca, Via Pignasecca

San Diego

‘When Nola follows a dog with a cart for its paralyzed hind legs – that dog really walks around Naples – she ends up in Bar Nilo. There is an altar with some hair from Diego Maradona, who made Naples national champion twice and even won the Uefa cup with SSC Napoli. Maradona is a near saint here. The Neapolitans still feel it as a great injustice that their once so important, rich Naples was relegated to a second-class city with the unification of Italy and Maradona brought glory again.’

Bar Nilo, Via San Biagio Dei Libraic

Coffee with love

‘I never drank coffee in the Netherlands, now I can’t live without it. A coffee here is an espresso, but full of flavour, tradition and love. When I run into friends, we quickly pop into a bar like Ceraldi, one of those real Italian bars with a marble counter and a display case full of sfogliatelle† But honestly it doesn’t matter which bar, the espresso is good everywhere. We hang out at the bar for five minutes, we exchange a laugh and a joke or just some supportive words, after which we can face the day with a strengthened heart.’

Ceraldi caffePiazza Carita 14

pure rag

‘Food is important, taste is important, socializing is important in Naples. I was introduced to the real, pure, Neapolitan flavors through my sweet mother-in-law. She entices her children, grandchildren and even great-grandchildren with freshly made lasagna and perfectly fried fish. Flavors that we try to find in the restaurants, for example at the family restaurant Osteria la Chitarra, where they serve fantastic antipasti and Neapolitan ragù with ricotta, provola and parmigiano.’

Osteria la ChitarraRampe San Giovanni Maggiore 1

O sole mio

‘Naples is music. The Neapolitan lives from and with music. At our wedding three years ago Napulitanata played O sole mio until Tu vuò fà l’americano and other classics. Napulitanata is a music group with young talented Neapolitans who, with a passion for their origins, breathe new life into the tradition. They have a music hall where they perform regularly.’

napulitanataPiazza Museo 11

anti mafia

‘Naples also has that raw side. Peppe grew up in Scampia, where the Many di Scampia, the infamous sail-shaped blocks of flats – the symbol of the Camorra War. But a lot has already changed. There are now about one hundred and twenty organizations that try to do something good in this district. We would like to show that different face with our anti-mafia tours in Scampia.’

Living on the volcano

‘We live just outside the city, in Pozzuoli, a fishing town with a rich history and spectacular nature. Pozzuoli has natural thermal baths and volcanic activity, it often smells of sulfur. The earth descends and rises through the volcano below the city. When I came here, the Roman marketplace was still under water, now the floor is completely dry. Yes it is living on the edge† There are beautiful Roman excavations in Pozzuoli, also in the sea off the coast, you can dive to them.’

Centro Sub Campi FlegreicVia Miliscola, 165 Interno Lido Montenuovo, Pozzuoli

Reborn on Procida

‘Ferries run from Pozzuoli to Ischia and Procida. Procida is this year’s cultural capital of Italy and the smallest and most authentic of the three islands in the Gulf of Naples. It’s a personal favorite of mine, for a day’s walk, hitting the beach, eating. I always feel reborn after a day of Procida. There are many natural thermal baths on Ischia. Many Neapolitans spend their summers there. Capri has magnificent views and is the mundane island where the richest of the rich gather.’

Ferries to Ischia and Procida leave from Porto di Pozzuoli, Largo San Paolo

Underground Naples

‘The underworld of Naples, there is so much fantasized about it, but there is also literally a world below the city. There is ancient Neapolis, a Greek and later Roman city of which much can still be seen, water reservoirs, tombs, ancient frescoes. So very rewarding to descend into this mysterious layer of the city.’

La Neapolis Sotterata– Compleso Monumental San Lorenzo Maggiore, Piazza San Gaetano 316