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Campania Region

“You can say or tell or paint whatever you like but in this place everything exceeds expectations. These shore, gulfs, inlets, Vesuvius …”. In 1787 that is what Goethe had to say about the Gulf di Naples.
It is a fact that this region, with its towns so rich in history and its culture dating back thousands of years, leaves no visitor unmoved. Naples (“nea polis”: new city), the regional capital, grew up at the foot of Vesuvius as early as the 5th century B.C.; its old town offers one of the most unusual and picturesque walks in the world. Particularly at Christmastime, the famous street, known as Spaccanapoli (“splits Naples”) because it splits the city in two, and the small adjoining ones become a medley of voices and colours; shops decorated for the holiday season, stalls springing up as if by magic and selling knick-knacks of every kind; thousands of people crowd the alleys every day. The atmosphere is at its peak in via San Gregorio Armeno, the street of the shepherds, where skilful craftsmen, not only at Christmas, display their art in fantastic clay statuettes: the crib, or nativity scene, is one of the symbols of Naples in the world, just as much as sfogliatella pastries and babas. Every Neapolitan passes through this little street at least once in his or her lifetime and that is why it has always been so lively. Here, today like yesterday, are the workshops of the artists, painters, sculptors and engravers that beautified and embellished churches and squares. The unique atmosphere is very well described by Eduardo De Filippo in his famous play: Natale in casa Cupiello (Christmas at the Cupiellos).
Eduardo was a keen observer of Neapolitan society, with its dramatic and comical sides and its characters of down-and-outs and of heroes.
But Naples also means the beautiful sea-front of via Partenope with Castel dell’Ovo (the castle of the egg) and the Borgo Marinari in the foreground. Vesuvius and the island of Capri look so near that you could almost touch them with your hand. The same hand with which you can eat a tasty pizza, perhaps even the simple and classic “Margherita”, so called because it was served to Queen Margaret of Savoy in 1889.
The fact is that in Naples the pizza is not just a convivial pleasure, we might almost call it a sacred rite. “It must cook faster than pasta, be neither a first course nor a main dish, neither meat nor fish; it should be as hot as hell and as delicious as heaven: round like the world and burning like the summer sun”. This was the wager that the court cook made with the king way back in the first half of the eighteenth century.
And Naples also means the hill of Posillipo: a natural terrace overlooking the gulf, with scenic streets where all the up-and-coming professionals in Naples can be found every night. Naples is the hometown of Massimo Ranieri, Nino D’Angelo, Mario Merola, Totò, Massimo Troisi, and Gigi D’Alessio: actors, singers, extraordinarily “real” poets, with an overwhelming talent for describing human sentiments “with their heart”.
Finally, Campania also means the Sorrento Peninsula, the Amalfi Coast, Salerno with its beautiful Cathedral and its Moorish bell tower, and the Royal Palace of Caserta, not forgetting the ruins of those fantastic cities buried by Vesuvius in 79 A.D. but more alive than ever today: Pompeii and Herculaneum.

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