Last week, Business Insider published an article by reporter Sarah Schmalbruch in its Travel section, titled “Why no one wants to travel to Naples.”
NIAF President and Chief Operating Officer John Viola wrote a letter in response to the article, which was sent to both Schmalbruch and Business Insider. You can read it below.
July 31, 2015
To Whom It May Concern:
This is an open letter to both Ms. Schmalbruch and the officials of Business Insider in response to the article of July 30, 2015, entitled “Why no one wants to travel to Naples.”
First and foremost, let me say no matter what city is being referenced, I think it is irresponsible for a journalistic institution to allow its writers to pontificate on the ills or the strengths of any place without actually stepping foot in it. This sophomoric approach to journalism is everything that is wrong with today’s overabundance of amateur writers masquerading as real journalists.
Naples is a city that one simply must experience to understand and I’d be hard pressed to imagine TripAdvisor is producing the best judges of any place. Naples is a city that has drawn visitors for centuries. In the 1700s and 1800s, no well-educated human being received that appellate without having visited this gem on the Mediterranean.
Today, while Naples may certainly have its ills, it continues to be one of the world’s most vibrant and authentic localities. Perhaps Ms. Schmalbruch is looking for the package trips to stand in front of the Colosseum or take a gondola ride through the canals of Venice in a “Disneyfied” version of Italy, but had she the courage to seek out authenticity, Naples would be my highest recommendation. Coincidentally enough, it might be on those exact gondolas on the Venetian canals that she would hear the tunes of Naples’ world famous musical tradition, which has been exported across the globe and makes up the soundtrack of most people’s imaginations around Italy.
I think what insults me most is the criticism of Naples’ cuisine, and Ms. Schmalbruch’s assertion that there is too little to do to warrant a vacation to Naples alone. From a
culinary perspective, not only is Naples the birthplace of pizza, the world’s most famous food, but the Neapolitan tradition of culinary excellence has been crafted by thousands of years of social and ethnic interaction in this vibrant city, from creamy mozzarella di bufala bursting at your fork and fresh fish from the bay, to spaghetti alle vongole and sfogliatella that cracks in your hand.
Any traveler should know that Naples has more to offer than most people can experience in a lifetime. Besides the beauty of the bay and the vibrancy of the streets, Naples has world- class museums like the NationalArcheological Museum, home to all the treasures of Pompeii and the Farnese marbles, the Cappella Sansevero, home to the “Veiled Christ” which is probably the most beautiful piece of stone ever rendered by the hands of man. At the heart of the city is San Carlo Opera House, the oldest and most replicated in the world. You can sit across the street from that locality in Caffé Gambrinus, have the finest cup of coffee your lips have ever touched, and sit and watch teatro vivente, living theater, all in the shadow of Vesuvius. Not to mention, Naples has more churches than any other city in Europe.
At the National Italian American Foundation, we are proud that 87 percent of the 25 million Americans of Italian descent find their heritage in Italy’s south of which Naples has always been the spiritual capital. Sure, it’s a place that’s rough around the edges, but it’s a treasure only waiting to be embraced. I would say to Ms. Schmalbruch that next time before she speaks about our beloved Napoli she should take the advice of Goethe and “see Naples and die.”
John M. Viola
President and COO
National Italian American Foundation
1860 19th St. NW
Washington, D.C. 20009