The New York Times

What to Do in Elena Ferrante’s Naples

Last week, we published an article about using the Neapolitan novels of Elena Ferrante as guidebooks toNaples. “As I discovered during a visit in September,” Ann Mah wrote, “the series of books offered a unique view of this complicated city, leading me away from popular tourist sites and helping to explain the city’s social, economic and geographic divisions. To view the Naples of Ms. Ferrante is to view Naples like a native.”

Here are some tips on how to navigate Ms. Ferrante’s Naples. (A note for those who haven’t read the novels, including the latest, “The Story of the Lost Child”: spoilers ahead.)

The working-class neighborhood where Elena and Lila grow up is most likely the Rione Luzzatti, bordered by the Via Emanuele Gianturco and the tracks that lead to Napoli Centrale, the central train station. It’s not easily reached by public transportation, and has a reputation for crime.

The stradone — the main road frequently mentioned in “My Brilliant Friend” — is possibly the Via Taddeo da Sessa.

Ms. Ferrante’s characters return again and again to Piazza dei Martiri,the elegant plaza at the heart of the well-heeled Chiaia shopping district, where four majestic stone lions guard the center.

Feltrinelli (, the bookstore where Elena gives a book presentation in “The Story of the Lost Child,” is located here. Lila enjoys window-shopping on Via dei Mille, a few streets away.

A local institution founded in 1860, Gran Caffé Gambrinus (Piazza Carità, 39-81-552-34-88), which Elena and her daughters visit with Gigliola in “The Story of the Lost Child,” features magnificent Art Nouveau interiors, bracing coffee and an array of sweet and savory treats.

Elena often rummages through the books in the stalls on Via Port’Alba.As a student, she finds a part-time job at a bookstore on Via Mezzocannone, which is just few blocks away.

The Rettifilo is the local nickname for Corso Umberto, a bustling avenue known for inexpensive dressmakers and bridal boutiques, like the one where Lila buys her wedding gown in “The Story of a New Name.”

The characters often stroll along the Rettifilo to window-shop, and stop for pizza. This is also where Stefano, Lila’s husband, rents an apartment for his mistress, Ada.

The fashionable residential neighborhood of Vomero features beautiful Art Deco villas and stunning views of the sea.

A teenage Elena attends a party here at the home of her professor, onCorso Vittorio Emanuele, where the bourgeois elegance leaves her astonished.


CreditChris Warde-Jones for The New York Times

As an adult, she lives on Via Torquato Tasso, in an apartment with a gulf view.

In the western part of town, perched on a hill overlooking the Gulf of Naples, the residential quarter of Posillipo is one of the city’s wealthiest and most exclusive areas, with magnificent sea views and unfettered exposure to the sun and sky. In “Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay,” Michele Solara uses money from his illicit activities to buy a luxurious apartment here, a symbol of his success.

Ms. Ferrante’s characters often snack on fried food, which is famous in Naples, particularly pizza fritta, a round of dough dabbed with tomato sauce, mozzarella and ricotta, folded. Sorbillo(53 Piazza Trieste E Trento, 39-81-442-13-64), in the historic center, offers an exceptional version.

Though the classic Neapolitan sweets made by Signor Spagnuolo at the Solara bar-pastry shop are lost in the pages of Ms. Ferrante’s books,Pintauro (275 Via Toledo, 39-81-41-73-39), a tiny shop with unreliable hours, offers a worthy substitute. As is traditional, it makes two kinds of sfogliatelle: riccia, crunchy, whisper-thin layers of dough around sweetened ricotta perfumed with cinnamon and orange zest; and frolla, the same filling in a tender, shortbread crust.

An avid Elena Ferrante fan, Francesca Siniscalchi is a licensed guide who leads tours of Naples and the Campania region. A half-day, private, custom tour of Naples costs $371, booked through Context Travel (