For my first post of 2018, I want to share how I spend New Year’s Eve or Capodanno this year in Naples. Naples, which happens to be one of my favorite cities in Italy, is well-known for its crazy NYE celebrations. No where else in the country do people celebrate as hard or as long as they do in Napoli.
Starting from midday, the streets are packed with people drinking outdoors and around 5 pm, people start setting off fireworks in the street. Coming from the highly regulated celebrations in the U.S., where the city puts on the only firework show, this was a shock to me. I knew that people set off fireworks all over Naples, but I didn’t realize that it happened in the middle of crowds of people, streets while cars were driving by; everywhere you look there are Napoletani lighting something on fire with a subsequent explosion.
Naples is a beautiful city but it's somewhere you need to pay attention to your surroundings. I didn’t go out with a camera or anything valuable and by the end of the day my boyfriend was hiding my cross-body bag under his huge winter coat so people couldn't see it out. There was a public transportation strike so the metros and buses stopped at 8 pm, my ears were ringing from the street bombs and there were NO restaurants open for dinner at night that weren’t completely booked.
That said, Naples is a gorgeous city at any time of year and in my opinion, it’s a must-see if you’re visiting central Italy. It’s an hour away by train from Rome and serves as a hub to the south of Italy, including the Amalfi Coast, the islands like Ischia and Capri and the region of Calabria. I recommend choosing a less crazy day to visit, but if you’re set on it, here are my tips for surviving New Year’s Eve in Naples, Italy.
Book early. Reserve your hotel room and a table for lunch/dinner early (at least a couple weeks) to avoid missing out on all of the best and lowest priced locations. Don't leave it until the 30th to plan like I did!
Plan to be home by midnight or soon after. The city gets crazy in the early evening and at night so unless you have pre-made plans (i.e. with Italian friends or out at a club) then I would recommend heading back to your Airbnb or hotel after midnight. Of course you can stay out later but it definitely gets more dangerous being out on the street.
Be careful with what you bring with you. Don't wear any jewelry, bags or anything that might suggest you're carrying valuables as this can put you at risk for being taken advantage of. For example, I didn't bring my camera that would be hanging from my neck and used my phone to take pictures instead.
Consider visiting museums, churches or other monuments. This is one of the few days that won’t be crowded in these famous areas so take advantage! We went to the National Archeological Museum, famous for their Pompeii artifacts, a couple hours before it closed and there was no one inside. We got to see all of the exhibits we wanted without the crazy crowds that are usually there. This applies to any of the famous spots in Naples (museums, churches, castles), just confirm that they're open online before going in.
Be prepared for the noise. Italians will be setting off botti, or firecrackers, in the middle of the street and crowds of people that sound like loud bombs. You'll have fireworks being set off from balconies and in the middle of roads or piazzas, without a thought for who's around those fireworks. Keep your distance and consider wearing earplugs.
Visit the lungomare for free concerts and fireworks around midnight. The official fireworks get set off above Castel dell'Ovo on the lungomare (seaside road) around 1 am. There are also two city-sponsored concerts with DJs and Napoletani musicians in the area. It gets very crowded at night but that's where you can find less risky NYE activities.
Be careful but take it all in. No other city in the world does New Year's Eve like Naples. Stuff yourself with pizza and fried pizza, eat the best food of your life, walk around the variety of neighborhoods and enjoy the surreal atmosphere that surrounds the city.