“Rome is stately and impressive; Florence is all beauty and enchantment; Genoa is picturesque; Venice is a dream city; but Naples is simply — fascinating.”
– Lilian Whiting
Destinations such as Venice, Florence, and Rome in the north might have all the gloss, but they also come across as a little artificial, a little too clean and touristy. Naples, on the other hand, has a life of its own; it is chaotic, raw, unfiltered, and unforgettable. There is no doubt that you see the authenticity in everything here. This is a city with texture – the good and the bad. As they say here, “Vedi Napoli e poi muori! — See Naples and die!” Naples street photography is a real must for the amateurs of this genre like my husband and me. I found photo opportunities everywhere I looked. In their simplicity, Naples shows the true beauty of the real Italian city. In this blog I will take you on a photo walk through the streets of Naples, capturing the history and the culture, soaking in the local life and chaos.
There are many points of interest in Naples, but the best way to see Naples is by foot. Simply take the day walking around and absorbing the culture. We didn’t recognize the true beauty of Naples until we wandered through its winding streets: forgotten buildings, hidden corners, narrow alleys, characteristic textures and shapes.
There was something unexpected at every street corner. I felt almost at home with the incessant honking, the constant noise of the scooters and mopeds, and people greeting one another across the streets, much like in my hometown Sai Gon. The little streets and alleyways of Naples have cars and scooters parked disorderly on the sides of the roads. I had to manage to dodge the locals driving scooters down cobbled streets a few times.
The Old Town is without doubt the most interesting place in Naples. Located in the middle of the city and close to the main train and bus stations, the old town has very narrow streets; moving is possible only by bike or taxi, otherwise you’ll get struck too many times. Anyway, moving by feet is the best option, as it would be easier to stroll around.
To many, a narrow dirty street might be unappealing, but for me it speaks volumes about the common life. Despite the dirt and garbage it felt like the streets themselves were living and breathing. To a street photographer, these streets are a real joy to capture.
One of my favorite things to photograph in Naples was the laundry scene. It was so much fun to explore the narrow laundry-lined streets and alleys. In addition, you often had beautiful, soft light shining through the alleys that gave them such a romantic feel.
Cars are old and dented. Traffic signs are loosely interpreted. Vespa drivers are recklessly driving down the street. The city’s cars and scooters honk constantly as they zig zag through the gridlock.
Vibrant, multi-cultural, messy and noisy, busy and lazy,… Naples is intensely alive! The chaos can be an assault to all senses but this assault has a visual intensity that has to be experienced and photographed.
Here it wasn’t full of tourists looking for limoncello, but it was real. Locals were out and about shopping. There were little fresh markets on the corners, and people made quick stops in coffee bars to get their espresso fix. Along the way you can see Neapolitans sitting at an outdoor terrace, drinking beer, smoking cigarettes and catching up with friends. Everyone is sweating from the heat and humidity.
One of my favorite places to shoot in this city is Piazza del Plebiscito. You’ll find this curved architectural beauty across from the royal palace. It’s a large public square in central Naples where no cars are allowed.
A visit would not be complete without grabbing a slice of traditional pizza or pasta at one of many cafes at this piazza as you watch the locals hang out and the kids play soccer.
Fans of pasta and seafood are particularly well catered for. Thanks to the city’s envied location on the bay, seafood in Naples restaurants is cheap, plentiful, and excellent.
Walking through Naples streets it feels like you pass through the thousand-year history of the city: the ancient buildings, the churches, the legends,…There is not a place that can better tell you the soul of Italy.
The old and neglected feel of the city is what attracted me to capture photographs in the streets of Naples. Naples has a way to keep photographer on their toes.
“Here we are at last. The Italian proverb says “See Naples and die” but I say, see Naples and live; for there seems a great deal worth living for.”
― Arthur John Strutt