We think Italy does Christmas bigger and perhaps better than anywhere else. And in Naples, local and national traditions are infused with the inimitable Neapolitan sense of humour.
The first thing you might notice when you arrive in the city are the many letters to Babbo Natale, or Father Christmas, pinned onto the huge tree at the city’s main train station.
Photo: Jessica Phelan/The Local Italy
From carefully-penned letters to brief missives scrawled on the backs of train tickets, they reveal locals’ Christmas wishes; some sweet, and some surprising.
One writer, Teresa, isn’t asking for much: “just my university degree, a hug from Dad, and some peace in my life.”
“Ps; you know I've been good,” she writes.
Plenty of others are asking for promotions or help with studies, either for themselves or for loved ones.
Others simply ask for some love in their lives, or for someone they know to feel better.
Francesco asks for two of the women in his life to find boyfriends “with money.”
“And be generous with me, too.”
Another writer dreams of Avril Lavigne coming to Italy on tour,
One wishes whoever is reading this a Merry Christmas, while a particularly contented writer asks for nothing at all.
Meanwhile on San Gregorio Armeno street, artists make and sell famous wooden figures for presepe, or nativity scenes, found in homes, squares and churches across Italy at Christmas.
Look closely at presepe and you’ll often find some unexpected figures crashing the well-known biblical scenes.
Footballers and politicians are popular. This year, interior minister Matteo Salvini was immortalised as a presepe figure. Inexplicably, one version shows the politician carrying a severed hand on a platter.
There are plenty of Trumps. And the British Royal family features heavily, too.
This year's favourite appears to be Prince Harry with someone we’re assuming is meant to be Meghan Markle.
And as well as Italy’s famous Christmas cakes, some more surprising delicacies are on sale.
Fishmongers’ windows are mass of live eels, wriggling in their tanks, just waiting to be taken home for a Christmas Eve or New Year's Eve treat.
It just wouldn't be Christmas in the south of Italy without them.
Freshly caught eels for sale. Photo: Stefano Mortellaro/Flickr
All photos, unless otherwise stated: Jessica Phelan/The Local Italy