Napoli – a bustling introduction (part one)

I’m a bit overwhelmed by trying to think about our holiday, so I’ve decided to dedicate my next entry to our little sojourn down to Naples. We decided to go to Naples, not knowing too terribly much about it other than that it was closer to Pompeii and Herculaneum, which were must see sites for our holiday.

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Fountain in Piazza Monteoliveto in Naples, near our apartment. September 2018

Our plan was to catch a train, pre-booked, down to Naples. The day this was planned for, we experienced a thunderstorm in Rome, which woke us up early and provided a bit of excitement for My Love who viewed it from the balcony. It was over before I had managed to pull myself out of bed, which is a bit of a shame, but what we were blissfully unaware of at this point in time is that it would affect the running of the high speed train!

Many hours later, we arrived at Roma Termini with our suitcases, to fall upon chaos. We were aware that this is a very busy transport hub in Italy and so initially did not think to much of it… but, something felt a bit wrong when we could not see our train number from our ticket on the board. There was a train to Naples at the same times as on our ticket but the number was completely different. Now, with hindsight we know that our train was changed to a different type with a different number but due to our extremely limited Italiano we could only work out that there were delays, but not the extra info that would have seen us confidently board this replacement. We almost did but I’d read that if you don’t have the right ticket, you can get kicked off the train and so we hesitated. Long story short, we ended up having to buy new tickets that were 3.5 times the price of our initial ticket and no refund possible on the pre-booked ticket. So that was expensive but what are you going to do??

We still had a very slow ride to Naples, with issues due to the weather still having a impact hours later, but eventually we arrived with only a half hour delay to the meeting time we had initially set up with the apartment we were staying in. They were very understanding which was lovely. We stayed at San Nicola Apartment which is next to the San Nicola church which you can see part of below.

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View across a church rooftop from our apartment. Naples Sept 2018

When we came out of Napoli Centrale train station it was hectic!! So much tooting, yelling, people everywhere – it was quite an experience! When you cannot speak the language it can be difficult to discern the tone of the yelling which can be unsettling when you are not used to it. It was also extremely hot and we didn’t really have much idea about Naples yet so everything was a bit intimidating. We had hurried to get some breathing space near the exit of the station but this set us somewhat off course. Google Maps sent us down a lot of hectic back alleyways that felt like a different world. It didn’t feel entirely safe. It felt like all manner of chaos and dealings were going on. I don’t think either of us were expecting this, even after the busy bustle of Rome and as the heat kept beating down we just had to keep on walking and try to get to our accommodation.

I am glad we had this experience, to see how people live in different, more dangerous and chaotic places first hand. Whilst we discovered a much safer route to the historic part of Naples where we were staying, we still saw a clothing store on the main shopping street with bullet holes in the glass. This is not something you see in small New Zealand.

Naples definitely had different sides to it but you could feel that the poverty is greater there than in Rome. The people dress differently. There is even more graffiti, rubbish, and there are more homeless people sleeping on church steps.

The two pictures above are two views from the same place, one looking left, one looking right. Both show the narrow nature of Naples streets but even in this small spot, I feel that the diversity of the places shows. Heading to the right you come out onto a bustling food market with fresh fruit and veggies, fish and other produce. Keep walking and you arrive at a couple of train stations. We never found time or need to go up the left hand street here.

On our first night in Naples, I feel we were a bit nervous. We were given a complimentary bottle of wine by the apartment and drank that before dinner which raised our spirits a bit! We then headed to the supermarket and began our tradition, now referred to as our “Naples Diet”, of eating spaghetti cooked in our apartment with some wine. Yes, that first night we had a lot of wine… The next day we went to Pompeii and got a bit more comfortably acquainted with Naples, meaning we didn’t feel the need for continued liquid courage! And I think I will leave that story for a fresh new post!

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