Home of the Pizza!
Naples Travel Blog› entry 10 of 14 › view all entries
We arrived in Napoli fairly late, but just managed to catch the train to our hostel that the Aussie girls on our ferry recommended to us. We wandered the streets for a little bit, and almost passed the unmarked door to our hostel. We later found out from Giovanni (the owner) that he doesn't have a sign because the Mafia demands money from private business owners, so he is a little undercover. He depends on one website and word of mouth for business. Cool, eh? Anyways, we finally found the place and met Giovanni. The hostel is actually his apartment, which is an entire floor of a building in downtown Napoli. There are only 3 bedrooms, about 25 beds total, so it's small. Giovanni welcomed us in with homemade pasta (mmmm), and drew us out a map of the city complete with a highlighted walking route for us to follow and his recommended sites to visit. Very helpful! After about 2 hours of listening to him go on about the wonderful Napoli (keep in mind that it was very late and we'd been traveling all day), we finally crashed into bed.
Our first day in Napoli we started out with breakfast at a nearby bakery (that 2 americans in our hostel recommended). We went for a fritata, which we both thought was kind of a potato pie. Turns out, it's pasta pie. Not what we expected. The cappucino fredo (iced cap), however, was delish! We then set out to follow Giovanni's map through the city. Napoli is quite a pretty city, except for a slight garbage smell (and big piles of it in some places), which has something to do with the mafia influence. The city is lots of narrow streets, churches absolutely everywhere, and tons of REALLY bad drivers. I honestly couldn't say enough about how bad the driving is in Napoli. The traffic rules there are really more like guidelines. Red light? Just a suggestion. Right of way? Only if you feel like it. Pedestrian? Moving targets! There are more mopeds and motorcycles than cars, and they weave in and out of traffic like they're invincible. Many have 2 people on it, rarely wearing helmets (among the teenagers, the fashion appears to be to wear it on your arm). I actually saw an entire family on one moped. Dad driving, mom behind with a baby sandwiched between her and dad, and a 5 year old boy hanging off mom's back. Insane! Anways, we bobbed and weaved our way through the city to follow this map. On the way we stopped at, and got kicked out of, 2 gorgeous churches. Apparently the Catholic church frowns on young ladies (us?) wearing sleeveless shirts. We made it pretty far around both of them though before we got booted, so at least we got to see them. Some other highlights from the first day included the gelato (mmmm), the pizza (we didn't get to have the BEST pizza in Napoli though, we got there after they closed), and the castles and churches. One castle we visited had an archaological site on the grounds: they had discovered another church UNDER that chuch. Giovanni told us that a lot of the older cities in Europe are like that, built city on top of city, like an onion. Very cool.
Day 2 in Napoli, we headed out to see Mt.Vesuvius and Erculeum (a city buried by Mt.Vesuvius at the same time as Pompeii). We did Erculeum first, since it was closest to Napoli. This city was closer to the volcano than Pompeii, and was preserved much better. Though Pompeii is mostly just streets and walls, Erculeum had full buildings that you could walk through, paintings that were almost as bright as when they were new, and cobbled streets. It was so incredible, how ornate it was and how well it was preserved. Also sad, to see such a beautiful city that was destroyed at its peak and was the site of so many deaths. From there, we headed up to Mt.Vesuvius. We took a crazy taxi up to the top (drove like everyone else in Napoli, but on a single lane, 2-way street up a mountain), then hiked the last little bit up to the crater (in flip flops, oops). It was crazy hot, and we had a ton of lava gravel in our shoes...but the view was worth it times 10. The crater was incredible, and you could see all of Napoli and the ocean in the other direction. We wandered around the top taking pictures, then wandered back down to grab our crazy taxi back to town. On the way home we stopped to buy a watermelon for dinner, which we ate with our sporks and loved every spoonful! After dinner, Giovanni offered to take me on a motorcycle ride through the city. We hopped on, and drove for at least 2 hours around all the sites, and up on a hill for the best view of the city at night. We stopped at the best gellateria in Napoli for some cinnamon gelato (soooo good), then headed back home to bed.
Day 3 in Napoli we took the train headed to the Amalfi coast, a gorgeous stretch of coastline with sheer cliffs and beautiful beaches. We meant to go to the end of the train line, but we soon realized that there were a lot of locals on the train who were wearing bathing suits. We made the decision to ditch the hot tram and jump off wherever they did! We did just that, and followed the crowd down to a great local beach. On the way, a couple of young italian girls asked us where we were from, and we befriended them and they guided us to the “good” section of the beach. We hung out there all day, swimming and tanning, then headed back to town in time for Gino Sorbillos, the BEST pizza in Italy. I have to say, I think it was! The pizzas were huge, oozing over the sides of the large plates. I got the classic Margherita pizza (sauce, cheese, and basil), and I polished that huge sucker off. It was SO amazingly good. We then rolled back to the hostel so Ness could go on her motorcycle ride with Giovanni, and I could hit the sack!
The next day we hopped on a train to Rome, to meet up with Mat, the Aussie we met in London. More on Rome next time!