"There are three capitals in Europe: Paris, London and Naples." Written by Stendhal in 1817, this gives the ancient and beautiful city of Naples what it actually deserves.
To discredit the stereotypes of decadence and corruption, we have to visit "Neapolis" ("new city" in Greek) and discover a modern European capital able to attract people, thanks to a renovated grand tour. Naples offers not only amazing and breathtaking landscapes, but also the unique ability of living contemporaneity while keeping traditions alive; the most difficult challenge, even for a modern city.
Considered one of the most stimulating cities of the world for contemporary artists, Naples presents itself as an opencast museum, with a ceiling made of shining stars and floors painted by thousands of timeless stories. When we talk about contemporary art in Naples, we actually mean contemporary. The "Stations of Art" are an outstanding project in which famous names from all over the world have joined to transform the metro stations in active places where Neapolitan citizens and tourists can meet to keep alive the cultural hearth of the city. Among these artists: William Kentridge, a South African artist who realized the mosaic of San Gennaro at Toledo Station (voted in 2014 as the most beautiful in Europe); Karim Rashid, who designed University Station and the sculpture Synapsi; Joseph Kosuth, author of the peculiar work inspired by the Convivio by Dante Alighieri. The vocation of the city for contemporary art is confirmed by the presence of two places dedicated to it: PAN (Arts Palace in Naples) and MADRE (Museum of Contemporary Art "Donna Regina"), an acronym that you can also read as the Italian word for "mother."
Naples is also renewing the mentality of the citizens with many projects like the "QI" (smart area): an experimental lab for eco-sustainability founded to save a tough area that links the districts of San Martino and Montesanto.
On the other hand, there are still the same problems that have afflicted Naples since its foundation. A format broadcasted on the screens of the metro stations represents the efforts that the city is making every day to solve its problems. The psycho-fiction shows Mrs. Parthenope (the name of the mythical mermaid that gives the name to the city) afflicted with atavistic sufferings like waste emergency, criminality, and public transport malfunction that she tries to solve through a group therapy involving citizens, associations, and businessmen.
While the innovation in Naples is apparent, traditions prevail. Finding amazing food and genuine artisanal products is easy to do in Naples. The district of Chiaia has thousands of top level fashion brands, but it's worth visiting the crowded streets of the via Benedetto Croce and the via Tribunali area to live the most authentic Neapolitan experience (even just for the three historical pizzerias: Sorbillo, Di Matteo and Il Presidente). Then, choose the homemade desserts of sfogliatella at Pintauro (Via Toledo) and babà at Scaturchio.
As John Turturro, an American actor and director with Italian origins, said: "there are places that you go to, and once is enough. And then there is Naples;" a beautiful woman that becomes even more human for her imperfections, we add.