Celebrate the new year and start off on the right foot: here are some original ideas to toast the new year in the Neapolitan city.
New Year’s Eve in Naples: a whole party
In Naples, the New Year is a big outdoor party. On the streets of the center, in Piazza del Plebiscito, where the concert is held and at midnight on the 31st street towards Castel dell’Ovo to greet the new year with a incredible fireworks.
The party continues, until dawn the following day, on the Naples seafront, from Mergellina to Borgo Marinari where five stages will be set up between via Caracciolo and via Partenope which will host artists, bands and discos in the open.
At the Rotonda Diaz instead there will be the traditional appointment with the daredevils who will dive into the waters of the Gulf to greet the new year.
A must for those who want to spend it in a club on the 31st is Arenile di Bagnoli: here every year the Neapolitan New Year is celebrated with an unforgettable party.
For a dinner party, the board is the Posillipo Theater which organizes a dinner and disco after midnight.
The alternative to dinners and parties is the San Carlo Theater with the wonderful performance of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker.
The purpose of this game is managing to go between the equestrian statues in the center of the square, sculpted by Antonio Canova and depicting Charles III of Bourbon and Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies.
Rules of the game: close your eyes or wear a blindfold. Procedure: starting from the gate of Palazzo Reale, walk straight for about 170 meters. Do not be surprised if, on opening your eyes, you realize not only that you have not managed to cross the space between the two statues, but that you are somewhere else entirely.
According to legend, it is all Queen Margherita’s fault: she is said to have granted a pardon to the prisoners of the Kingdom who passed this test, however, a curse launched by the Queen herself prevented the competitors from being successful. As a matter of fact, the particular conformation of the square, with its surface of not perfectly linear cobblestones, hinders walking in a straight line, making this a very difficult thing to do in Naples with kids, especially during the night.
There are two things that are synonymous with Easter in Napoli – Pastiera – the ricotta and wheat based pie that is like a cheesecake on steroids and its equally indulgent antithesis – the rustic and savoury Casatiello Napoletano. Think of them as the yin and the yang or the Adam and Eve of the Neapolitan Easter table.
A type of rustico, or a rustic bread, Casatiello is hardy, filling, and oh so satisfying. Something I would think of more as a comfort food for the cold, wet days of winter, here it is nevertheless a symbol of spring. Made only for the Easter holiday, its brother Tòrtano however is made year round.
Two breads cut from the same dough, the only difference between them – hard-boiled eggs. Perhaps symbolic of creation, I can only guess the addition of eggs to Casatiello render it suitable only for the Easter holiday. Made in a round pan similar to an American bundt pan, the shape is said to symbolize the crown of thorns.
The recipe dates to at least the 1600s and they say, the Napoletani that is, that it is not Casatiello without sugna (or strutto in Italian) – pork fat/lard. Served as part of the antipasti on Easter day, it tastes even better the next day, Pasquetta – Easter Monday.
The first step in any good Casatiello? The ingredients.
Flour, lievito – fresh yeast sold in little cubes, water, salt, pepper, and most importantly, sugna for the dough. Hard boiled eggs and an assortment of salumi and cheese inside.
To make Casatiello with 1 kg flour we recommended “un mezzo chilo di misto,” – a 1/2 kg of assorted salumi and cheese. For our Casatiello we chopped up some ciccioli, capicollo, salame napoletano, and pancetta coppata. Pecorino cheese is typically used but this time we are using a Caciotta di Avellino.
For the dough 1 kg flour plus extra for rolling the dough. 300 ml Water. 1 cake (.6 oz) fresh yeast or one package or 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast. Warm water. Salt and pepper. About 4 tbsp of lard for the dough plus more for coating the dough.
For the filling 1/2 kg assorted salumi and cheese. 6 hard-boiled eggs.
Pour flour onto a work surface. Mix in salt and a very generous amount of pepper. Add yeast (if you are using active dry yeast you will need to dissolve it in about 1/2 cup warm water first). Add water a little bit at a time, working it in until a soft dough begins to form. Add the lard and work it completely into the dough. Continue working the dough, adding water as needed until the dough is just slightly damp and very elastic. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise 2 hr or more.
Meanwhile chop the salumi and cheese Boil and chop the eggs and add them to the salumi mixture
After the dough has risen one hour, flour the work surface and roll it out into a large rectangular form.
Spread the salumi mixture across the length of the dough starting near the bottom of the dough.
Roll the dough up like a cigar, pinch the edges and coat them with lard.
Bring the ends together to form a circular shape.
Grease the Casatiello pan with lard, work the dough into the pan and generously coat the top of the dough with lard.
Cover and let rise 3 hours.
Bake at 180º C for approximately 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Discovered at Pompeii on December 29, 1837, in the presence of King Ferdinand II, the Blue Vase is regarded by many to be the Naples National Archaeological Museum‘s most prized possession.
The Blue Vase is said to have been found in the House of the Mosaic Columns during a Royal inspection. Some have suggested it was planted to impress the noble visitors. Apparently, it was not uncommon for excavators to inhume their finds and wait for an opportune time to unearth the treasure in order to keep their patrons excited and the funds coming in.
Extremely fragile, Imperial Roman cameo glass vases are terrifically rare; only a handful survive. Perhaps the most famous specimen is the so-called Portland Vase in the British Museum.
They were made by fusing different colored sheets of glass together in a furnace. After cooling, the top layer was etched away, creating designs that stand out from the contrasting background. As with the Blue Vase, the most common color combination was the use of an opaque white over a translucent cobalt blue.
Beneath each handle of the Blue Vase the iconography depicts a group of pudgy putti gaily harvesting grapes for winemaking and playing musical instruments. Separating the two scenes are highly elaborate grape vines bearing clusters of fruit and some birds. The vines appear to be springing like antlers from the head of Silenus, the trusty companion of Dionysus, the god of wine. Circling the vessel’s base are flora and fauna from the Mediterranean. Fittingly, the glass vessel is shaped like a wine amphora.
Undoubtably the work of master craftsmen, this priceless masterpiece was truly a wonder to behold.
National Archaeological Museum is away only a few minutes walk from our apartment!
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