Interview with Naples Writer Chiara
Every since Chiara Fiorillo was a child, reading and writing were two habits she kept near and dear to her heart, whether it was journaling or writing poems in her diary. Leaving Italy to study Journalism at City, University of London, she has made a tremendous effort to connect with her Italian roots and has since published a book called “Matricola 422945,” and her very first Favoroute ‘Naples + Pompei’ Travel Guide. We caught up with Chiara to talk about uncovering some of Naples local gems and how a native perspective can help reveal Naples’ true reputation.
Q: Describe Naples in your own words.
It would be difficult to describe Naples in a few words: it is such a magical, rich and amazing city. Since my hometown is not too far from the city, I always visit the fascinating city when I return home.
Naples is a mix of culture, passion, and love. It is a haven I need to visit when I feel down, an oasis that blends conflicting feelings and emotions. Naples is unique, yet it can have so many different faces. If you visit the most ancient parts of the city, you will find yourself in a completely magical atmosphere. If you visit the most modern areas, you will experience a whole different feeling. It is impossible to find a single definition, because as the infamous Neapolitan singer Pino Daniele said, “Napule è mille culure, Napule è mille paure” (“Naples is a thousand colors, Naples is a thousand fears”).
Q: What is your favorite route to take in Naples?
When I go to Naples, I usually get to the main station (Piazza Garibaldi) and then I leave from there. I often have a coffee on Corso Umberto I or I go to Piazza Plebiscito, where some of my favorite cafés are. Then I visit the city center, from Quartieri Spagnoli to Spaccanapoli, entering some churches or historical buildings, which are amazing. I always have something good to eat (I mean, everything is good there! Haha) and then I go for a walk to burn some calories (joking…or maybe not!). If I think about Naples, the first image that comes to my mind is its wonderful Lungomare. Going for a walk with someone you love, with your friends or simply on your own is a must when you are in Naples. Also, the city center is quite big, so every time I visit, I go to quite a lot of different places.
Q: Naples is a city preceded by its reputation, which can sometimes be off-putting for travelers who do not know it. What is the true nature of the city and what can people expect?
Sadly, that’s true. Naples is often discredited because of its reputation, but I can happily and proudly say that what most people think is not an accurate description of the city.
Naples is a metropolis and, exactly as any big city in the world, it can be dangerous. You just have to be careful and beware of the people who surround you. Any big city can be risky, but for some reason, people tend to think that Naples is more unsafe than other cities. However, I have been living in London for more than two years now, and I can say that it is not less dangerous than Naples. Naples is worth visiting: everyone is so friendly and cheerful, and the history of the city is great. Travelers should get as much information as possible beforehand, but without trusting stereotypes too much. Naples is a lovely city, not a banal stereotype.
Q: Pompei is also included in your guide, what makes this place so special to you?
I guess the reason why Pompeii is so special to me is that I have often visited it since I was a child: it has always been a nice destination for our Sundays out, to devote some time to history and culture.
Pompeii is not far from Naples, and everybody in the world knows it. Its rich history creates a very peculiar atmosphere. Also, teams of expert archaeologists are always working there and making discoveries, which makes every single visit special. Indeed, every time I visit the old city of Pompeii I see something I hadn’t seen before. This makes me think that the history of my region should be appreciated more and this is why I decided to include it in my guide. I hope that a lot of travelers who visit Naples will also decide to go on a trip to Pompeii. I promise they won’t regret it.
Q: Naples is rich in culture and history, but also in food. In your opinion, what is the best food you can find in Naples?
FOOD. SO MUCH FOOD. Naples is VERY rich in food. From pizza to pasta, from fish to meat, from cakes to coffee, you can find whatever you want in the city. And it is all so good. I don’t think I have ever been to a café or a restaurant in Naples thinking that something was not good.
It may sound obvious, but I would say that the best food travelers can find in Naples is pizza. Naples is the city where pizza was born. Therefore this is not only our original dish, but it is part of our culture and traditions. Pizza was born as a very simple dish, and it still is. You may find more complex alternatives, but one of the peculiarities of Naples is that the most traditional and ancient restaurants only make a couple of pizzas, Margherita and marinara, which are the original ones.
Q: With your background in journalism, how has this shaped your approach to traveling or travel writing?
I have always loved writing, reading and traveling (“Write. Read. Travel” is my motto), so travel writing is something I have always loved doing. Since I started studying journalism, however, I feel like I have changed my mind on a lot of things and I have started looking at some events or facts under a different light or with different eyes.
When I go to a place, my mind tends to be more critical than it was before and it automatically starts thinking how I could turn something into a story people may want to read. It is something I cannot really help – it just happens, and I must say I love it. Probably because I have understood that journalism is the right choice for me, I have made it part of my daily life, which means taking a lot of pictures, being very active on social media and always having something to say.
Q: Why did you team up with Favoroute to write your guide about Naples + Pompei?
I decided to team up with Favoroute to write my guide about Naples + Pompei because it seemed to be a great way to improve my travel writing skills and to get a lot of people to read what I had to say about my region.
The team at Favoroute is great: it is made up of great supportive and capable travel writers, who give a lot of suggestions and are always there to help. The whole process of writing has been long and quite intense, but rewarding in the end.
I have enjoyed working with Favoroute: I have to say I got very excited when I got an email saying that my guide had been published (I got a bit emotional as well!). I hope I will write new guides in the future and doing so with Favoroute would be amazing!
Q: What can readers expect from your guide?
Readers will find themselves immersed in a reality I have often experienced in my life, that is to say, the magic of Naples and Pompei. Campania is a great region, however, is often a bit neglected to travelers because they often go to bigger Italian cities such as Rome, Milan, Tuscany or the Amalfi Coast. I want everyone who reads my guide and eventually decides to visit my region to be sure that it is worth it.
In my guide, readers can find a lot of suggestions, from food to hotels, from walking routes to public transport ideas. They can find green spaces, religious and historical buildings, cafés, restaurants. I tried to put together all the knowledge I have, but I am also aware that both Pompei and Naples are so beautiful and that travelers may experience even more great experiences than the one they can find in the guide.
Q: If readers wanted to get the latest updates from you, where can they find you?
I am quite active on all of them and I love keeping in touch with new people, so I am happy to follow my readers back and reply to any message I get.
Q: Tell us something that people don’t know about you?
My first language is Italian, and I am fluent in English. My mum was born and raised in Switzerland, and when I was a child, she tried to teach me, German. However, on occasion, she would lecture me in German because the language can sound harsh! So I never wanted to learn it. However, I have been studying it for almost three years now and my level is quite good (Upper Intermediate), so I can say that the shock has finally passed. Also, I am studying Arabic at an Intermediate level, and I hope I will use it in my career, maybe moving to an Arab-speaking country. I love trying new experiences: this is what travel lovers do, isn’t it?