New Year’s Eve in Italy: why you should spend it in Naples
I hope this article finds you quickly enough so that you’re able to rethink whatever plans you’ve made and change them to spend New Year’s Eve in Italy. Naples is the city every Italian thinks of when it comes to New Year’s celebrations. Why is that? I remember hearing that spending the most celebrated night of the year in Naples could be dangerous, or irresponsible, because of the fireworks. As an Italian, I let those voices influence me for a long time. But I’ve traveled to Naples at other times of the year and I couldn’t have enough of it! Last year, I decided I was big enough to go and see for myself what it feels like to spend New Year’s Eve in Naples. And now, it’s time for you to know: New Year’s Eve in Naples is an unforgettable experience. Naples is a city that lives on tourism, but it also has a considerable issue with poverty, so it’s in the citizens’ best interest to present that night to perfection. You might even not notice the poverty at all, because the enthusiasm, the fragrances, the sights, and of course, the tastes, will all mesmerize you.
WHY NAPLES IS THE BEST CITY FOR SPENDING NEW YEAR’S EVE IN ITALY
The Italian tradition for New Year’s Eve is to attend an abundant dinner that we call “cenone”, and to spend time together with family and friends until midnight. Italians also used to throw crocks and old stuff from the windows, but this custom is disappearing. Big towns always arrange one of the main squares as a concert/performance arena where people gather and celebrate, while at midnight there are a few minutes of fireworks and general excitement, hugs and kisses.
The tradition in Naples is a quite different…
People from Naples particularly enjoy scenic fireworks, and each family gets prepared far in advance. Given the fact that the city stretches out along the coast and it’s hilly, it’s pretty easy to spot each other’s fireworks, and so the celebration becomes a big musical show with many, many actors that you can enjoy, always remembering to be careful 😉 The views are breathtaking all over the city, and you’ll have abundance of chances to satisfy your wanderlust during the day. Most of the pictures in this article are the courtesy of Gennaro Leonardi, an amazing photographer from Naples. You can connect with him on Instagram.
TIPS ON HOW TO PLAN YOUR NEW YEAR’S EVE IN NAPLES
Get accomodations near the city center, or at a convenient walking distance from Piazza del Plebiscito or Castel dell’Ovo. Those are the two core location during the last night of the year. In this way, you won’t struggle too much to go back to your room and sleep after the festivities. Also, it is difficult to catch a cab on New Year’s Eve. Airbnb has pretty good deals for Naples! But nobody will prevent you from staying outside the whole night and traveling to other Italian cities in the morning. (Naples is also one of the best day-trips from Rome ).
Taste the city’s delicacies before the night begins
If you reach Naples early in the day, you’ll have time to check in your room and go exploring the city’s historical center, which is a Unesco Heritage Site. Visit the popular street called “Spaccanapoli” (so called because it looks like it’s cutting the city in half.) Near there, you can find the popular local street-food like the pizza, the “sfogliatelle” (local pastry with ricotta cheese and custard) and “cartoccio” (fried fish in a paper bag). If you want to eat sitting in a restaurant, check out these best pizza restaurants in Naples. I recommend you get plenty of food during the day, because New Year’s Eve in Naples is long and busy. The majority of the restaurants in and near the center will be overbooked, only offering tables for celebrating the “cenone”. This means there will be a delicious fixed menu which usually costs 150 euro/person, and you won’t be able to order anything else. If you are not prepared to spend that money for your New Year’s Eve dinner, content yourself with the street-food, or visit a local supermarket. Don’t wait too long, because the shops close earlier on New Year’s Eve.
My favorite view of the city is from the hill that hosts the Castel Sant’Elmo and the Museo San Martino. You can take the “funicolare” (public railway lines) direct to S. Elmo. When you are ready, head toward “Piazza del Plebiscito” square, where the concert takes place. It’s free and it lasts until 11:30PM. When the concert is over, you can slowly leave the square, get a bottle to celebrate from one of the many street vendors, and slowly descend to the seafront.
THE MAGIC OF NEW YEAR’S EVE IN ITALY NAPLES
Once you get to the boardwalk, walk towards Castel Dell’Ovo, which is a castle right on the sea. All around, you will see restaurants and a few bars, and stands with music and DJs. When midnight comes, get ready for the show, because in the whole city and the surrounding areas people will be shooting ogg fireworks. You’ll be able to see the outline of the Posillipo promontory brimming with lights and colors. Exactly at midnight, a few adventurous people will honor the traditions of diving into the sea from the Rotonda Diaz. When you think you’ve already seen everything the night has to offer, you´ll soon discover that the best part hasn´t even started yet. At 1:30, two firework performances start right on the sea. If you are still near the Castel dell’Ovo, that’s the perfect place to see the show. Your head will be turning from left to right and you still won’t be able to see all of those fireworks. I found a video of last year’s fireworks. Even though it’s beautiful, it still doesn’t convey the full spirit of a New Year’s Eve in Naples.
I will be there again this year, what about you?… Let me know in the comments if you’re thinking of spending New Year’s Eve in Italy!