Guidebooks for Naples and Amalfi
November 21, 2007 11:29 AM   Subscribe

I'm visiting Naples and the Amalfi coast over the winter break. I'll be there a week. I couldn't care less about when to go and how to get there or where to stay, because that's all taken care of. I'm looking for the best guidebook that emphasizes history, background and things to do. Good recommendations for places to eat would be a nice plus. What would you suggest? Right now my leading candidate is the Lonely Planet guide, but in the past I've found they're not so hot on places to eat.
posted by ubiquity to Travel & Transportation around Italy (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I was there some years ago and I still think of those holidays as some of the best in my life. That said, I don't have any guide book recommendations - I don't even remember which one I used - but I just had to comment because other people I know that have been there didn't go to or do some of the things I enjoyed the most:

- Andrea Panza in Amalfi: the most yummy lemon cream pastries in the world and a beautiful shop.

- The "Secret Room" in the Naples Archaelogical Museum where they keep the erotic artifacts from Pompeii.

- Walk up to the crater of the Vesuvius!

If you are bookish, you might want to read The Book of San Michele by Axel Munthe before going to Capri (highly recommended day trip) or Goethe's Italian Journey. I enjoyed this Cultural History of Naples too.

As for restaurants, I personally tend to trust the NYT...
posted by lucia__is__dada at 12:10 PM on November 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

When traveling in Vietnam, I found the Rough Guides series to be more informative than the Lonely Planet guides. Obviously, YMMV.
posted by gnutron at 12:10 PM on November 21, 2007

Response by poster: I like Rough Guides. But they don't seem to have anything on Naples and the Amalfi Coast specifically.
posted by ubiquity at 12:30 PM on November 21, 2007

For history and background context, the Blue Guides are hands-down the best. Not so good for food and lodging, which you de-emphasize anyway. They are very old-fashioned but hyper-detailed and generally very accurate -- and for history, they age very well so an older one can be just fine. By comparison, most other guide books are superficial twaddle.
The following might not be the most up-to-date so poke around:
Bay of Naples Blue Guide
Southern Italy Blue Guide.
posted by Rumple at 1:02 PM on November 21, 2007

While you're in Naples, try to have a pizza at Pizzeria Di Matteo. I really enjoyed the pizza, and it was an adventure to find it. I was just in Naples in spring 2007.
People in Naples were very nice to us, happy to give directions. In one case we had wandered into a "sketchy" neighborhood and asked for directions of a woman carrying groceries. The woman actually walked us to where we were going after saying, "Oh, you really don't want to be here! This is not a good area!"
I was only in Naples for one day, and then off to a conference in Capri, so I didn't really want to buy a guidebook. I just used resources from the web.
posted by nprigoda at 1:16 PM on November 21, 2007

I used the Lonely Planet Italy guide all over the country including Naples and found it very useful. I really like Accademia della Pizza, Da Michele is also great but a different kind of experience.
posted by teleskiving at 4:08 PM on November 21, 2007

I bought the Food Lover's Guide to Naples and Campania before we went and it offered a rich vein of great places to eat, or even to visit (it's in a Slow Food vein, so there are lots of artisanal producers highlighted). It may be hard to find, but it's worth tracking down.

I cannot recommend enough Trattoria il Focolare on Ischia. I had the warmest reception I have ever had at a restaurant anywhere at this family-run place. I would call first to make sure they're open over the winter. Riccardo and his family speak good English.

I would also highly recommend Ristorante l'Arsenale in Minori - another family-run place with great food and a wonderful location. We walked down to Minori from Ravello (recommended as an absolutely fantastic way to see a slice of real life on the Amalfi Coast, but take the bus back up!).

Also, by way of doing your homework, read up on pizza in Naples. A good source is American Pie by Peter Reinhart.
posted by sagwalla at 4:02 AM on November 22, 2007

The Time Out Naples guide has pretty good food recommendations and is ok on history too. Rough Guides and Lonely Planet are generally better for backpacking than for Europe.
posted by Mocata at 8:44 AM on November 22, 2007

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