Naples Local Customs

  • Presepe spotted outside a pizzeria!
    Presepe spotted outside a pizzeria!
    by toonsarah
  • Local Customs
    by egicom05
  • Pulcinella, Centro Sorico, Naples
    Pulcinella, Centro Sorico, Naples
    by toonsarah

Best Rated Local Customs in Naples

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    Pulcinella

    by toonsarah Written Nov 25, 2007

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    Pulcinella, Centro Sorico, Naples
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    Pulcinella, often called Punch in English is a classical character that originated in the Commedia dell' Arte of the 17th century and became a stock character in Neapolitan puppetry. His name comes from his long beaked nose. His creation is sometimes attributed to an unknown Naples man in the early 1400's. Dressed a white hat, a white dress, and black shoes, and covering his face with a black mask, he would walk around Naples poking fun at the rich and the people in power. Life in Naples at his time wasn’t easy; the city suffered from economic and social depression and was often under the rule of many different kings. Because he helped people to forget about their problems, if only for a moment, Pulcinella became one of the most cherished symbols of Naples. Later he developed into the traditional crafty and rather vicious character we recognise as the English Punch, but the real Pulcinella is considered an archetype of humanity, with all its complex and contradictory features.

    We saw several “Pulcinella” on the streets of the Centro Storico – this one was a street performer, another was working to attract visitors to a Christmas crib workshop in the Via San Gregorio Armeno, another busy luring people into a restaurant. I also spotted the masks for sale in several shops, in case you fancy acting out the role back home, as well as the more Venetian looking masks in my second photo.

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    Limoncello

    by toonsarah Written Nov 25, 2007

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    A glass of limoncello

    If like me you enjoy trying local delicacies and drinks when visiting places, you’ll want to sample a limoncello. This is a lemon liqueur produced in Southern Italy, especially in this area around the Gulf of Naples and the coast of Amalfi and islands of Procida, Ischia and Capri, but also in Sicily and Sardinia. It is made from lemon rinds, alcohol, water, and sugar. It is bright yellow in colour and I found it a little sweet for my taste – I expected sharpness but although it is lemony, it doesn’t have any lemon juice in it, only the rinds.

    Limoncello is served chilled and is a refreshing after-dinner choice, especially if you like a little sweetness in your drinks. I was pleased to have the chance to try one, but after our first evening reverted to my favourite Italian digestivo, Grappa.

    You can read more about it, and get some interesting recipes for using limoncello, at http://www.limoncello.com/en/index.html (focuses on the limoncello of Capri but interesting nevertheless, and it’s all the same drink really).

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    Pizzelle fritte

    by ruki Written Sep 8, 2007

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    Pizzelle fritte, or montanare, are a variation on the pizza theme: tiny and fried pieces of pizza dough, with a nice and well dressed tomato sauce and parmesan cheese on the top.
    You must try because it is real Napolitano food and it is delouses.

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    Christmas cribs

    by toonsarah Updated Jun 26, 2012

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    Craftsman in the Via San Gregorio Armeno, Naples
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    These nativity scenes, known as presepi, are a Neapolitan tradition dating back to the 13th century. Over the years it has become a real art form; in the 17th century nobles would commission renowned artists to create their very own nativity scene, as can be seen in the Santa Chiara cloister and in the Museo di San Martino. But there’s no need to go to a museum to see today’s presepi – simply head to the Via San Gregorio Armeno in the Centro Storico where numerous craftsmen who specialise in this tradition have their studios and shops. We were there in November when the street was packed with families choosing their decorations for the coming festivities, but I gather that the workshops are there all year round, though the atmosphere might be a little calmer.

    What makes a presepe stand out from the regular nativity scene is its scale, and the way that the holy family is placed in a setting representing old Naples, with its architecture, its people and its traditions. The best and most complex pieces will hold your attention for ages. You may see herders leading cows to the pasture, a couple sharing a meal, children playing, maybe a fight in an inn, etc. In addition to these ordinary scenes, and the focal point always of the nativity itself, Neapolitans have for over 200 years included figures of people who made news during the year, such as a politician or celebrity – I read of Paverotti, Princess Diana, Mother Teresa and Elvis all being “honoured” in this way, though I didn’t see any examples.

    During the 19th century the presepe became a standard Christmas fixture for most homes, when poorer families created their own scenes with miniature chalk, terracotta and papier-maché figures. Today on the Via San Gregorio Armeno you can see not only the workshops where skilled craftsmen produce these scenes but everything you need to create your own at home: little rocks, bark and wood, streams with flowing water powered by tiny motors, balustrades and columns, and figures of all kinds.

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    Soccer: what a passion

    by egicom05 Written Jun 3, 2005

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    Soccer: a quasi-religion

    Even if the Napoli soccer club plays in the third series, Neapolitans are always in love with soccer. Maradona is still in their blood and soccer's symbols are everywhere. Watch this picture: young neapolitan boys ("scugnizzi") created a soccer field on the front side of a church (S. Maria Donnaregina). The goal is the main entrance gate. Don't worry they didn't mean to be blaspheme; the church is actually in disuse.

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    Coffee

    by Polly74 Written Feb 7, 2005

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    Inside caff�� Gambrinus

    In Naples coffee is a ritual you just cannot miss out on. It was once made with the traditional Neapolitan coffee-maker made famous by Edoardo De Filippo and Totò. Today coffee is made with the Italian moka espresso coffee maker following a few technical tricks that all Neapolitans know perfectly. First of all, the moka should never be washed with washing-up liquid, but rinsed with warm water only. Remember that if you have just bought a moka espresso coffee-maker you should use it without coffee grains inside once or twice at first, filled just with water or ready-made coffee. The secret of a good cup of espresso coffee lies in not pressing down the coffee grains too hard in the filter and turning the flame down to a minimum as soon as the coffee starts to “gurgle”, leaving it for a few seconds before taking it off the hob and serving.

    One of the most famous, traditional coffee shops in Naples where a perfect "tazzuttella" of coffee is served is the elegant Caffè Gambrinus in Piazza Trieste e Trento, on the corner of Via Chiaia, not far from Piazza Plebiscito.

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    Presepio

    by Jeannkelly Written Jan 27, 2006

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    This is one of the most reknowned Napolitan traditions, the presepio (or the manger) where even icons like Maradona and Al Bano are part of the entourage of the manger of the child Jesus.

    The presepio is also known for its craftmanship which is incomparable. Each of the figurines are hand crafted artistically where the artisits hands are able to mould certain facial expressions that seem to be very intricate. The smaller the figure is, the more difficult it is to craft, however, the presepio is 100% hand crafted and its origin is always attributed to the craftmen of Naples.

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    Presepe (Nativity scenes)

    by Polly74 Written Feb 7, 2005

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    a shop selling nativity scenes

    Walking through some of the major thoroughfares of the Spaccanapoli district, you can discover many shops selling Christmas creches (nativity scenes). Apparently this is a big folk art in Naples, and people design extravagant scenes for display throughout the holiday season.

    The size and detail of many of the scenes was amazing, and ofter the small figures of the scenes are politicians, showmen, singers and football players...

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    The cult of St. Gennaro

    by egicom05 Written Aug 31, 2005

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    The statue of St. Gennaro in the Cathedral

    St. Gennaro is the fervently loved patron Saint of Naples.
    Three are the fixed dates of the recurrent prodigy of the Saint (blood liquifying): eve of the first Sunday of May (first translation), on December 16 (anniversary of the vesuviana eruption 1631) and on September 19(martyrdom’s date). To liquefy, the blood can take few seconds, or half an hour, or some days, then people pray because this happens. It is worthwhile to spend two words on the so-called ones "parenti of St. Gennaro", that belong to the ethnic and cultural patrimony, sprung, during the centuries,from the popular pity; they use simple and confidential expressions "santo nuosto", "guappone", "faccia ngialluta” dialect prayers not to be marginalized, as voice of the Neapolitan alive language. It’s a group of believers women,that pray until the miracle happens. According to the popular tradition,the missed miracle is premonition of bad luck and misfortune for Naples and the surrounding zones. Another aspect of the traditions tied up to the miracle of St. Gennaro is represented by the procession that remembers the first translation of the relics of the martyr from Marciano to the catacomb in Naples. Anciently the clergy participated with garlands of flowers on the head,tradition abolished then. This procession, from the people also told "procession of the statues" for the presence of the silver statues of the holy compatronis, it is an authentic show of faith and folklore.
    On the terraces carnations, roses and flowers of every kind, to the balconies blankets of damask or brocade,cloths of silk preserved for years and spread out to the air for the party. Intimate and dense of emotion,the procession crosses Spaccanapoli among the houses of the ancient center. People tightened around the saint in those little streets that gave more voice to the prayers and the songs. Petals of roses to the passage of the Patron and with the flowers the cry "Long live St. Gennaro! "
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    Locked in Love

    by rsleisk Updated Jun 11, 2007

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    Locked in love

    As I walked the strand along the Bay of Naples at any time of day but especially at night there were many young couples making out.

    I noticed that they would camp out at particular spot day after day. When I looked closer I noticed that they had placed a lock around the lightposts with their initials written on it as a gesture of the everlasting love, locking their hearts together.

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    Horn-shape amulets

    by Polly74 Updated Feb 7, 2005

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    The cornetto, corna, gobbo, (hunchback), horseshoes, all to bring good luck and fortune!

    The Cornetto is, without doubt, the most diffused Italian amulet. Its origins are ancient and go back quite to the times of Neolithic (the 3500 A.C.), when the inhabitants of the huts used to affix outside doors a horn like fertility auspice. Especially in those times the fertility came associated to the fortune in how much, the more people was fertile, more it was powerful and therefore lucky.
    The horn draws its origins from the shape, it is believed in fact that the objects to tip, especially if having horn shape, defend from bad infuences.

    In Naples you can find plenty of shops selling cornetti, and similar....don't forget to buy one, to bring lucky at home!

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    Sunglasses

    by rsleisk Updated May 30, 2007

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    Sunglasses are prevelant everywhere in Italy but none more noticeable than when I was in Naples. It seems everyone young and old have a pair of sunglasses on at all times of day morning, noon, dusk and night! Bring your best pair of sunglasses and you will fit right in with the locals.

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    Cakes and pastries

    by Polly74 Written Feb 7, 2005

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    Eating a bab�� :-)

    While walking in Naples, you will inevitably catch sight of the numerous glittering pastry shop windows that can be found lining the city’s streets and squares. You just cannot miss out on tasting one of the typical Neapolitan pastries: babà, usually flavored with rum or limoncello, sfogliatella, struffoli. The pastiera napoletana deserves a special mention: it is a dessert made from wheat and ricotta cheese, flavored with orange blossom essence and has ancient origins.
    The story goes that in ancient times it was made to celebrate the arrival of Spring. Then when pagan festivals made room for Christian traditions, the pastiera became the traditional Naples Easter cake.

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    San Gennaro Martyrdom

    by egicom05 Updated Aug 31, 2005

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    San Gennaro Church in Pozzuoli

    "... St. Gennaro would not have existed without Naples and Naples could not survive without St. Gennaro. The history of St. Gennaro starts with Naples’history... "So Alexander Dumas told about the bond that exists between our town and its Protector. He descended from the noble family Gens Januaria. So,Gennaro was the surname and according to not official sources,Procolo the name. The story that involved Gennaro,happened in the first half of the III° century;during that epoch he was Benevento’s bishop. In 303,when the famous Diocleziano’s edict was banished against the Christians,he went to Miseno to participate to a liturgy. In that time,Sossio was Miseno’s deacon,that was arrested by Dragonzio,antichristian judge,taking advantage of the rage diocleziana persecution. Gennaro,his deacon Festo and the reader Desiderio heard the duty to make visit to the friend to bring him some comfort. Dragonzio took advantage of the occasion to arrest the three with the accusation of forced adoration of the idols to the pagan altars condemning them to be devoured by the beasts in Pozzuoli’s amphitheater.The rebellion of the Christian community exploded,it got only the conversion of the punishment:decapitation,that was executed in the Hole of Volcano near the Solfatara of Pozzuoli in 305. To performed sentence,some Christians charged themselves to bury the martyrs and to preserve some their blood. According to the tradition,Gennaro’s blood was guarded by its nurse in 2 cruets,while the body was buried in Marciano near the places where the execution happened. His mortal remains underwent numerous translations,up to the actual setup in the Cathedral in Naples in 1492. The first certain news of the miracle of the liquefaction of the blood of St. Gennaro goes up to 17 August of 1389; they tell that blood was liquefied as if it had gushed out that same day from the body of the saint.
    [Egicom05 by Sun City]

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    Naples car parker, man on the street.

    by rsleisk Updated Jun 11, 2007

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    I first saw this "profession" at work while in Sicily. The man on the street I saw outside my hotel here in Naples was at the height of this profession.

    I watched him as he greeted everyone who walked down the street, everyone seemed to know him. He would tell jokes, say hello to little baby's in strollers, walk old men arm-to-arm down the busy street. He was a maestro, he conducted all the events on this little street corner with ease.

    He parked cars and walked with confidence up and down the street. I wish I had a photo to remember this guy. I guess he made a living at this or at least felt important.

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