Without resorting to cursing, there’s not much I can say to describe Naples. In order to be polite, let’s go with “it’s colourful”.
Naples makes Rome seem easy-going and relaxed. Upon exiting from the train station, you are immediately struck with an imminent sense of doom as you witness construction, a sea of garbage piled all over the streets, cars and vespas zooming at you in all directions, no street signs, and what initially looks like the world’s largest yard sale, but is in fact loot scored and being resold by pick-pocketers. Which is mildly comforting in case you do get robbed – at least you know where you can go to get it back (for a price).
It was a long, hot, smelly walk to our hostel, which was up on the 7th floor of a very old building. Megan and I were so exhausted upon arrival that we actually ordered delivery to the hostel and proceeded to sit with pizzas and beers to recharge our batteries. Note that I said pizzas plural. This happens again in Naples – gone are my “I’ll just have a slice, thanks” days apparently.
We did find a nicer area of Naples, and went and sat along the waterfront for a bit before I stepped in mystery item number one (this also happens again in Naples) and we decided to call it a day.
The next morning, we went to something I have been eager to see for over a decade – Pompeii! I love volcanoes. Not so much the carnage and destruction that they can cause (which in this case was quite drastic considering it wiped out an entire town), but the raw energy of them and the fact that you are literally seeing the earth in action. I’m a bit nerdy, I know.
Pompeii was incredible, the perfect antidote to the crazed hell that is Naples. Excavations continue to this day on the town, which was buried in AD 79 by a massive eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Wandering the uncovered streets you really can get a sense of what life was like at the height of the Roman Empire, and you can see places where they were tragically still rebuilding after much of the area was destroyed following a big earthquake in AD 62. Many people probably thought that the earthquakes were the worst of their problems, which was sadly the opposite.
After seeing some of the plaster casts of the victims which are quite disturbing, we were feeling a bit down so we ate some gelato (naturally). Somewhat revived, we returned to Naples where I narrowly avoided being pick-pocketed! A good lock on your bag does wonders, as does keeping an arsenal of semi-used Kleenexes in your exterior pockets (and as I was still having the mother of all allergy attacks, there were plenty in my bag) to scare off potential thieves. Enjoy my germs, jerk!
Dinner was, of course, pizza. I ate TWO PIZZAS IN TWO DAYS. And they were both delicious.
I can’t say I was too choked to leave Naples – while our hostel was great and people were nice, the garbage everywhere was AWFUL and made each trip out an adventure – not just in exploration, but also in avoiding various diseases that likely lurked in those piles.