They say see Naples and die. I had some health troubles that started in Rome, and when I was in Naples, I had the feeling I am close to getting to fulfilling this saying. Luckily, nothing like this happened. I actually managed to have a great time in Naples.
My biggest travel takeaway has been to not judge a city when the night falls. I arrived to Naples at 7 pm, the city was dark, cold and full of traffic – understand traffic jammed stinky cars that were honking non-stop. I wanted to walk to the Renaissance Mediterraneo hotel, where I got a stay for free thanks to my Marriott points. A reward for all those business trips I took back at the times. The walk was everything but pleasant. Plus the pavements were supercrowded. Naples is a big city – some 1,000,000 people.
When I was in Rome, I got heaps of advice about Naples, what to do, what to try and what to eat. So I felt like I gotta do it. I was also riding around in a car. Something that many people would not undertake, because the prejudice goes that Italians drive like crazy (and they do!). All in all, although my first impression was not so good, I ended up being in love with Naples, and hope to return one day to explore more.
A few impressions of Naples:
- the public transport works, but not as you are used to – I spent in total at least 2 hours waiting to catch different means of transport. I would even get into the metro and wait for 10 minutes for the train to come. The worst one was waiting for the bus that never came. Are you used to have a timetable on a bus stop? Not in Naples. The bus comes when it comes. Or it doesn’t come. This explains why all the locals sit in their cars and jam the city. Working public transport is needed if you want to have less pollution in the city. Full stop.
- The metro is beautiful. If it rains, I advise you to go grab a ride with the M2. It has specially designed artistic stations and it is worth it!
- Neapolitans are loud. I think this is the most widespread prejudice I ever heard from an Italian. The truth is, they are not louder than any other Italian. In fact, I was surprised that Italians are not that loud as I expected them to be based on my previous encounters. I travelled a lot with a train, and I never had a feeling that somebody is bothering me with a wrong voice modulation.
- Vesuvius is majestic. So is the port of Naples. Grab a chance to explore it. I didn’t really get the feeling of the sea breeze touching my face like I did in Venice. I believe, it is beautiful in any time of the year.
- The food is simply amazing! The pizza is a must try, I liked the Vesuvius type that looks like a volcano when they take it out of the oven, and it is filled with ham and cheese inside. There’s also pizza frita – fried pizza. Strange, but really tasty. I also enjoyed eating a lot of sea food. Unlike in Hungary, or the Czech Republic, the proximity to the sea is ensuring the freshness. The desserts (sfogliatele, baba) were also amazing. I tried Arancine and friarelli. It was a gastronomic experience. Don’t grab food on the main streets, head into the small ones just a few levels up. You will not regret. More about everything I have eaten in Italy soon on the blog. Sign up to get the post into your mailbox.
- Naples felt like Brazil. The city had a totally different vibe than any other European city that I have ever visited. It was just so much reminding me the streets of Rio de Janeiro. Sadly, it is not that warm in January as it is in South America.
- Driving is hard. You need to be focused non stop. If somebody honks at you, it is most probably a motorcyclist trying to warn you of their approach. There are basically no lanes. There are as many lanes, as the number of cars that fit in.
- Catacombs of San Genarro are gorgeous. Grab the chance to visit any of the three catacombs. They are all run by a group of enthousiaste who reopened them to public only 7 yeas ago. The halls and corridors are gigantic. This place served as a burial place for the plague victims. Many paintings and mosaics have been successfully restored. A stunning place.
- Pompeii is really close to Naples. It is one of the most visited Italian tourist sites. The parking business flourishes, but you can do without paying 10 EUR or so for stationing your car for a few hours. Just do not let the first guy in a reflexive yellow vest navigate you into their tourist trap parking lot. If you don’t want to bother driving in Naples, grab a Circumvesuviana.
- Pompeii inside reminds you how powerful the nature is, but it is also a nice account of the human advancement. It is refreshing to see the architectural elements of houses in 79 AD. The public buildings are also exceptional, be it temples, spa or the amphitheatre. There are in total 5 cities that were excavated. Heracleanum is one of the more preserved ones. I didn’t have time to check it. But maybe it will be less crowded than Pompeii. Give it a try. If you head over to Pompeii, grab a ticket online. The queue was not long in the off-season, but it was a waste of time. I think it will get longer in during the high season months.
📍Pompeii, Italy I didn’t know what to expect when visiting Pompeii. I left stunned and amazed at how our civilization was advanced (from architecture to water management). I liked the 3D reconstructions of the life in this 11,000 city. You can see the culprit – #vesuvius at the back. Nature is so powerful! #nofilterneeded #scavidipompei #pompeii
- Amalfi – was a bit of waste of time. I wanted to make advantage of having the car, but driving across two mountains to arrive to Amalfi after golden hour was not a good idea. I was just not expecting it will take so much time since it was only 30 km away from Pompeii. My average speed for the trip was 30 km/h. So you can do the maths.
- Amalfi is a place where you cannot park your car. Too small, too many other cars. I just got out of my car to grab some night shots (which didn’t work out nicely), and to have a walk on the pier. I have to return one day.
A few more photo memories from the South of Italy