Naples, Italy, considered an example of the authentic essence of Italy, is a sprawling city on the southwestern coast. Naples is world-famous as the origin of pizza, one of the world’s most popular foods, so make an effort to sample some here. The city also contains some major tourist sights. Many of the artifacts recovered from Pompeii and Herculaneum are displayed in the Museo Archeologico Nazionale, and a visit here provides a good preparation for a visit to either archaeological site. Other worthwhile attractions include Pio Monte della Misericordia, with its famous altar painting, Seven Acts of Mercy, by Caravaggio, Certosa di San Martino, a Baroque monastery, the Castel dell’Ovo, the city’s 12th century fortress, and the Palazzo Reale, the Royal Palace.
A worthwhile day trip from Naples involves traveling north on the Autostrada 1 to the town of Caserta to check out the Royal Palace, Reggia Caserta. Here is Italy’s answer to Versailles, a huge, sprawling edifice with 1,200 rooms and extensive gardens. Be sure to view the incredibly opulent Royal Apartments.