When you’re looking for your next European destination don’t look any further than Naples. You might ask why, but that’s why this article exists, to make that decision a little bit simpler.

Situated on the western coast of Italy, perched right on the Mediterranean, it’s a perfect place to visit any time of the year. Less well-known than the northern cities, Naples has a lot to offer and with Sorrento and the Almalfi coast on your doorstep too you can turn a trip into a little adventure. If you’re looking to spend a week in the area then an initial one or two-night stay in Naples is a must. Soak up the raw Italian atmosphere, try some of its amazing food and explore the narrow streets filled with artisan bakers and pasta extraordinaire.

Naples is situated in southern Italy (it’s pretty toasty there) and boasts epic views out towards the Isle of Capri and the inconspicuous steaming giant, Vesuvius. The city is a melting pot of culture and its history dates back to the 2nd millennium BC. That’s quite a long stretch and its home to important architecture and art including the city’s cathedral, Doumo di San Gennaro. Naples is a little different and a little overpowering at first glance. Our first experience was to jump into a taxi at the airport and head into town via your stereotypical Italian driver – erratic, inpatient and loud. Whizzing around the streets, shouting and gesturing out of his window as he meandered through town. I quickly managed to spark up a conversation with him around the local football team, Napoli. In a terribly broken conversation, we discuss their star Marek Hamsik and the glory of Claudio Ranieri.

What does the above mean? It means it’s real. It means it’s steeped in history like Rome, has all the culinary heritage you’re after, and has a decent football team to boot.

Dropped off, bags left by the side of the road, my new friend speeds off to his next fare and we’re left looking up, down, left and right and culture just poured into my eyes. Rome has the history, and the Romans, which we’ll go into more detail about in another post. Milan and Venice have the glitz and the glamour that you’d expect from Naple’s northern cousins’. They say that Italy is split into two halves – the northern powerhouse and the poor south below. That may have been true in the past but the south is coming out swinging and Naples is a perfect example of that.

We arrived at our small hotel, which was absolutely perfect for what we wanted. It was hiding just off the main road on a pedestrianised street which was filled with the hustle and bustle of day-to-day life in Naples. Men shouting at each other and children running around; pestering their parents for something edible. Instantly you’re filled with a buzz, you get that feeling. This is real Italy. This is what it’s all about.

This article exists not because I’m a travel writer, but to sway people’s mind to venture off the beaten track. Naples shouldn’t be the place that you hop off your plane at before jumping into a taxi and heading to the Almalfi coast. It’s more than that. Head to the Amalfi, Sorrento or Capri – just make a little detour to Napoli on your way.

What’s important here is that there’s a big wide world out there and too often we all choose the obvious destination. Choose somewhere a little rough around the edges. Choose a place that is the home of Pizza. Choose originality. You’ll be truly glad you did.