Insiders Guide to Naples and Beyond
Naples, Italy is one of the oldest cites in the Western World. Despite the negative press about Mafia related crimes and trash problems, Naples remains a vibrant and beautiful city. In her new book, The Espresso Break: Tours and Nooks of Naples, Italy and Beyond (ISBN Number 978-0-9835099-2-9), Zaragoza chronicles her three year exploration of the Campania Region through the eyes of the natives, locals, and visitors.
This guide is written not only for the traveler, states Zaragoza, but for the more than 12,000 military personnel and English-speaking expats living there. According to Zaragoza “it can be hard to manage through the crush of traffic, the Neapolitan dialect, and streets that accommodate two thousand year old ruins rather than cars.” As a freelance travel writer, a mother of three children, and a Navy wife stationed in Naples, she wanted to provide myth and lore along with pragmatic information to make any stay in Naples turn from frustration to wonder.
“For expats and the large number of military personnel living here, nine tours and thirty nooks can be enjoyed on the weekends, so that you can see the city again and again, each time in a new light.” For tourists, Zaragoza recommends selecting one tour and a few nooks in the city, allowing for ample time to find the sights.
The Espresso Break re-creates the Neapolitan cultural feel of the city (old is better) using both tours and nooks to go deeper into the ancient Roman ruins, wandering through the mazes of medieval Naples, and rising to the modern twists of Neapolitan espresso.
A quick reference of ten overlooked sights for Naples and all of Italy provide ideas on unusual travel. In addition, there are five sections scattered throughout the book referred to as “And Beyond” which give details of off-the-beaten-track jaunts expats can enjoy for a weekend trip or travelers can easily add to a Naples vacation.
About the Author:
Barbara Zaragoza is a travel writer, blogger, wife and mother of three children. She has a Master’s degree from Harvard University in European history and enjoys off-beat adventures that tie local history and cuisine together with travel. She has learned around seven languages (piu o meno) and has traveled through 21 countries in Europe, 36 States of America, and five continents.
In her debut travel guide, Zaragoza puts together the ultimate companion for readers planning a trip to Naples.
In this readable, entertaining information guide for tourists, Zaragoza takes readers from the heights of Mount Vesuvius to the ruins of Pompeii and beyond. Part atlas, part history lesson, part epicurean review, this comprehensive handbook to Naples is without peer. The only thing missing is information on lodging, a subject outside the book’s purview. Zaragoza clearly has insider’s knowledge obtained by spending a great deal of time in the regions she describes. She knows that anyone who wishes to see “The Sanctuary of Mithras” in Capua needs to see a custodian off premises, where he or she will grab a key and beckon travelers to follow the route to the actual site. It’s tips like these that make this guide so special. Zaragoza starts off with a background history lesson before providing directions to the places she describes—some off-the-beaten-path destinations would be difficult if not impossible to find otherwise. When it comes to local cuisine, Zaragoza takes time not only to describe the food but its origins as well. Some of the first pizzas, for instance, were made in Naples; the author informs the reader of the two main types of pizza and the best places to sample them. Coffee drinking in Naples is an altogether different experience than elsewhere. The amount is much less per serving—typically about a shot’s worth—but the sheer variety of formulations boggles the mind. Italians seem to take the idea of a coffee break seriously; it’s common to take pause from a busy workday to grab a quick pick-me-up at one of the city’s abundant cafés. Zaragoza’s explanation of the etiquette of coffee drinking is just another example of her ability to immerse readers in the culture and everyday lives of the people who inhabit the city.
Anyone contemplating a trip to Naples would do well to keep this very useful, accessible book close at hand.
“I would not have had any concern at all (about Naples) had I read Barbara Zaragoza’s new book, The Espresso Break. This is an amazing piece of work. It wears the label of a Travel book, but it is so much more – there is Italian history, Roman history, Greek history, archeology, art history, Italian culture, WWII history, several very interesting looking recipes, restaurant recommendations, hotel recommendations, and a fairly cogent explanation of current Italian politics. And, oh, yes, an incredible amount of information about Naples and surrounding areas.” Jim McDonough at Armchair Traveler.
“The subtitle promises “Tours and Nooks of Naples, Italy and Beyond”, and I would say the book delivers. The major highlights are covered, in greater detail than many books offer, and then come the hidden corners of Naples that you would never find on your own, like Mauro the glove-maker’s factory, and Japanese restaurant recommendations.” Sandy Frykholm of The Italian South: A Love Affair From Afar.
“Barbara Zaragoza has gathered and expanded work from her popular Naples-based blog The Espresso Break into an excellent and very useful guidebook. Zaragoza’s unique approach combines an in depth and very accessible historic focus with the intricacies of the Neapolitan culture and, above all, a deep love of bella Napoli.
Follow Zaragoza on a tour of Naples’ castles, the Phlegraean Fields where few tourists wander, ancient Greek and Roman ruins in and around Naples, urban spelunking in the fascinating underground city below Naples and to a great selection of nooks you won’t want to miss during your travels in Naples.
Of course a book with such a catchy title wouldn’t be complete without an Espresso Tour through the city regularly noted as the home of the best coffee in Italy. This is your guide to how to order, discovering different types of espresso drinks to try and the best places in Naples to find them. You’ll even find a few recipes and tips for recreating Neapolitan coffee drinks at home.” Laura Thayer from Ciao Amalfi writes her review at Cherrye Moore’s My Bella Vita.
“There is so much more within the pages of this travel guide to Naples than you would expect as it has a personal feel to it. I suspect that this is because much of the information contained within the pages, of unusual tours and hidden nooks of Naples appeared originally on the authors blog. The author is an American Naval wife and freelance travel writer who during a three year posting to Naples explored the city and its environs writing about it on The Espresso Break which led to this book.
This guidebook is perfect for the armchair traveller, or to tuck in your bag on your trip to Naples whether you are a first time visitor or have been there many times before. I think you might find some hidden nooks that you did not know existed! I also agree with the author’s own suggestion that this book makes an excellent introduction to the newly arrived ex-pat living in Naples as many of the articles will help one understand the cultural differences. Besides ideas for the tourist Barbara Zaragoza covers topics as diverse as food, shopping and the problems of rubbish and racism. It would also not have been complete without the section on Neapolitan espresso and its history, which gives the book its title. As well as the obvious sights, Vesuvius, Pompei and Herculaneum there are many other places covered. Which in my opinion means you cannot fail to find something of interest, with her tour ideas based on different themes, such as Ancient Rome, Grottoes or Odious Women. This guide will certainly be travelling with us on any future trips to Naples.
In conclusion an unusual travel guide for those of us that like to explore off the beaten track as well as the more obvious places. I personally feel that you learn a lot more about a place and its culture if you turn off the well beaten pathways and explore the nooks and crannies.” LindyLouMac’s Book Reviews