After living in Naples for three days my impression of this vast city has changed very little from those first few minutes when I walked from our bus to the hostel… well except that then I considered we might have been unlucky to walk straight into a street riot whereas now I think it would be rather exceptional if you didn’t. In fact I can almost guarantee that for approximately every 2 hours that you spend outside in Naples you will see something unnerving or scary.
On day one we took a local train heading south. Similarly to the city this train was stripped of anything pristine, anything that I associate with the high speed locomotions between Rome and Venice or Venice and Florence. Instead we were approached by a ramshackle carriage spray painted in local art. Even our platform was situated below Naples’ central terminal as if hidden from sight. The train was rammed and we stood rather content since we had scored a 2Euro ride to Herculaneum, Mount Vesuvius’ lesser known victim. The fare was rather more expensive for the poor old lady who got pick-pocketed by a four year old. Prying hands aside, this young chap seemed to be in search of a parent who turned out to be a very stocky man in a hoody.
Seriously you ask, someone was pick-pocketed by a 2 foot child?
Sadly the affair can be confirmed, money was lost and the act was sighted by a group of lads who lost the appetite to arrest the thief.
By the time we entered the gates of Herculaneum our impromptu tour was halted by a lady patting herself down looking for her wallet. This tourist was the kind who wrestles into a money belt strapped to the outer of her body in order to retrieve her purse and pay for a ticket. Not being one to condemn other travelling techniques (we all fail sometimes), I am sad to say that the wallet was found but without the notes. Somewhere between paying for her entrance and having to validate the ticket, the money disappeared.
Nevertheless a great day out was had by all (Prue and myself), only to return at dusk to a second street riot.
Day two was rather less eventful, except for two personal and public street side arguments and three kisses blown in our direction, we
saw very little to be afraid of on our self-guided walk. In fact, overall, we saw very little at all. Europe’s oldest theatre could not be distinguished from other buildings thanks to the lavish use of scaffolding and some of the streets we wanted to explore repelled us like mosquitoes, they were adequately fragranced with the fresh tang of urine. Somehow, in spite of all this we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. The grunge and life of Naples kept us intrigued. Overflowing bakeries and touristic sculptures vied for our attention and numerous grand but decrepit structures helped keep our bearings. Within the confined alleyways of markets and beggars is the Sansevero Chapel Museum which showcases the marbled masterpiece ‘The Veiled Christ.’ Oh and a preserved skeleton with its circulatory system in tact (WOW). In the northern end of the city, beyond thick layers of household garbage are the eerie winding tunnels that creep into the rock face of Capodimonte Hill. These are the historically astounding catacombs or cemeteries of ancient noblemen, saints and bishops. Add to this list a healthy number of basilicas; One ownership for Napolitan sauce whose literal translation (believe it or not) is “THE sauce.”; The best pizza in the World; AND an easily accessible port to whisk you away to beautiful islands far far away from all of this grunge… well, then you can see that Naples has its plusses.
But let’s be honest, in a pristine perfect Italy that prizes its grandeur and ability to re-create history, why would you search for the same experience in Naples. You’re far better off enjoying the culture of a city that screams anything but quaint and marvelling at its ability to vomit itself on the curb-side, trust me it’s the most impressive part.
So as for the status of “See and die.”
Just watch your pockets.