If you’ve been to Naples you probably have strong opinions about it. It’s a city that stands out in ways that are both good and bad and slaps you in the face from almost the moment of arrival.
Although there are many downsides to the city it would be very fair to say it wears them on its sleeve. There’s no avoiding the rubbish, the traffic, the dirt or the noise, and I don’t blame anyone who finds it all too much – I certainly wouldn’t want to live there.
However I can honestly say it’s been my favourite city since Luke and I left the UK a few weeks back.
I like the ‘realness’ of it. Despite the fact that we stayed only a few blocks away from the main tourist area we never felt that it was a tourist town. Locals spend their lives on the streets and in the evenings everyone is out playing soccer, bringing out plastic chairs and chatting (or shouting), shopping and making out. When you walk along the narrow footpaths doors are open onto living rooms and even bedrooms. This is the most densely populated city in Europe and it feels like it.
People hanging out near the funicular station in the evening and using their scooters to sit on.
The street art in Naples is often in a more simple style than that in cities such as Melbourne, Belfast or Berlin but that gives it a charm of its own and it is far more prolific than Rome. Several of the Metro station are famous ‘art stations’ and we saw a few interesting and large artworks at Dante, our local stop. Many doorways throughout the city seem to provide frames for work.
Of course it helped that we met up with friends not once but twice – pure good fortune that Rui and Lauren were also on a trip to Europe and in Naples for one of the nights we were there, and also our friend Joni, who is working on chartered yachts as a chef. What a life!
Of course we went to pizza places to meet up. To Trianon de Ciro with Rui and Lauren first. It began as a bit of a funny experience as the staff directed us up to the third floor and we were the only people there for a while. The pizzas were good though and the conversation even better!
With Joni, as she had more limited time, we met at 50 Kalo, a slightly swankier restaurant on the harbour. She brought her crew mates, Pam and Owen. Pam was Irish and Owen was from Sydney and it was lovely to meet some new people and hear what it’s like to crew a yacht that sails the Mediterranean and Atlantic.
When we left the restaurant that night we didn’t realise the trains finished running quite early in the evening and ended up catching a taxi the 20 minutes back to our Airbnb. That was quite the experience with the driver smoking and checking his phone while zipping in and out of traffic and beeping anyone who got in his way. He did ask if we minded him smoking and we said no – the least of our worries!
One of our last experiences in Naples was a trip to L’ Antica Da Michele, one of the most famous pizzerias. Although we got there early we still needed to queue. Thankfully they had a numbered ticket system rather than the ‘crowd around and shout the loudest’ system that Sorbillo’s uses. Once again, excellent pizza but just a tiny bit shy of Starita. I think we were in and out in 20 minutes. It had almost a school canteen vibe. So loud and rushed!
We did nearly everything we wanted to do in Naples but I wouldn’t have minded a couple more days and some cooler weather for wandering around. We had planned to visit a cathedral but arrived at 2pm, right in the middle of the 12-4pm closing time. It’s always worth, in Mediterranean countries particularly, checking opening times for attractions. Things can be closed when you think they’d be open and vice versa.
To finish off, here’s a few photos of things I enjoyed about the city!