Apparently, to everyone but me, Naples is Europe’s well known city of violence.
It was only after reporting to the World that we had been off of a bus for 3 minutes before walking into the heart of a street riot that the World reported this fact right back.
“See Naples and die” wrote my best friend “oh and try to have fun”
“Oh yes, its Knife city’ wrote another while more and more people screamed “I hated it there.”
When I consider the numerous responses something stirred inside of me but it took a few seconds longer for me to recognise the little dent in my travel savvy pride. No, not because I have walked into somewhere dangerous and wish I hadn’t but more that I at least usually know of the risks of particular places before deciding to go there regardless. So after two bubble-wrapped weeks in Italy’s more romantic and luxurious side, walking head on into a street brawl with blood dripping onto the curb and fists flying at people and the closing shutters of a local store, all while trying to find my hostel caught me a little off guard.
Now I’ve worked in police custody but I have never before seen the onslaught of civil vehicles that were required to combat this chaos. Map reading became pointless with at least 16 incandescent lights blinding my vision.
Retaining some of my pride I did manage to find our tiny hostel from sense of direction, we hastily checked in and shut that lunatic world out of sight. The momentary silence should have filled me with relief but instead I felt rather disappointed. It wasn’t just the police scene that was buzzing in the streets, it was more like Naples had enveloped me in its fabulous energy of Naples. Blinding lights glistening from kebab shops, market hawkers sharing banter and traffic, glare, walkers and talkers on every corner.
Clothed in vibrancy this city screamed something different to everywhere else that we’ve experience in Italy, England or Spain (fiestas excluded) over the past few months. Call Naples what you will but you cannot deny that it is alive; a lived in, breathed on, rubbish strewn mixing pot of culture and economic diversity. And that, after two weeks of pristine museum quality towns, is rather a breath of fresh air.
(Can Naples change my mind… part 2 to follow)