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The historic city of Naples was founded about 3,000 years ago as Partenope by Greek merchants. Later, the settlement took the name of Palepolis, the old city, and in 475 BC it became Neapolis, the new city. Under various phases of foreign rule, the city developed continuously, until it became the capital of the most important of the pre-unification states, the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. The rulers of that Kingdom, the Bourbons, constructed a magnificent palace in nearby Caserta and filled the city with historic structures of all kinds.
The historic centre of Naples, with its splendid palaces and its popular and lively working-class districts, is now on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Naples also boasts an underground city, as well as its famous panoramic views. Moreover, this hospitable city is marked by contrasts and popular traditions, such as the annual miracle whereby San Gennaro’s ‘blood’ becomes liquid in front of the eyes of his followers. Naples is famous throughout the world primarly because of pizza (which, you'll discover, only constitutes a small part of the rich local cuisine) and popular music, with famous songs such as 'O Sole Mio'.
Neapolitans believe their cuisine to be among the finest in the world. The best way to decide if you agree is tasting some local speciality: different pasta recipes (with the 'pummarola' tomato sauce, or 'alla puttanesca' with olives and capers), typical pastries like babà or sfogliatella, and of course an authentic pizza, which made its appearance in Naples over 500 years ago. Neapolitan cuisine proudly uses 'poor' ingredients such as oil, pecorino cheese, and aromatic herbs to convey its typical Mediterranean taste.
Naples bristles with great coffee, or rather 'caffè', which means 'espresso' there. The most popular coffee types in Naples are caffè ristretto, caffè lungo and caffè macchiato. Neapolitans often order a shot with their coffee, for example sambuca or whiskey.
Neapolitan nightlife is vibrant and packed with people. It starts teeming around 8pm in the Chiaia area - coming for a drink, you might have the impression that the whole neighbourhood have descended into the tiny space around via Belledonne a Chiaia for an aperitivo. Another crowded area is Piazza Bellini, especially in summer and spring time.
If you're looking for fashionable clothes, accessories or jewellery, head to via Calabritto, via Filangieri, via Chiaia and via Toledo, where you'll find plenty of fashion brands such as Bulgari, Gucci and Louis Vuitton. In the same area, two boutiques boast impressive local collections. One of them is called Ernesto Esposito (via Santa Caterina a Chiaia 20), and showcases the sexed-up heels created by its namesake designer, a Neapolitan who also works for Fendi, Sonia Rykiel and Via Spiga. The other one, Marinella (Riviera di Chiaia 287), is a tiny shop with a huge reputation for its classic men's accessories and, especially, silk ties. A huge flea market with good bargains is found close to the Poggioreale jail and runs from Thursday through Monday. For typical handmade products, the best place to go is the Quartieri Spagnoli. This area still has the highest number of old craftsmen’s shops. The sophisticated, expensive Capodimonte porcelain, cameos and gouaches are particularly famous. Naples is also tied to the traditions of leather goods as well as gold and silver objects. If you are interested in buying the famous nativity scene figurines made in terracotta you should visit via San Gregorio Armeno: here you can find all types of figurines, all made by hand.
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