Crazy but endearing Napoli

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April 3rd 2013
Published: April 4th 2013
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Todays Gelato flavour – GMB – Stracciatella(very fine chocolate bits) GLB – Tiramasu

With yesterday behind us we woke well rested having used out new pillows.We are sure these are going to come in very handy as we continue our travels in providing a good night’s sleep.

Another filling breakfast while we planned our day for sightseeing in Naples.We decided to give Capri a miss as the weather today still looks a bit changeable although the forecast was for improvement as the day went on.

Gretchen checked out the best way to the city by public transport,there is no way we or anyone foreign should drive in Naples,if the guide books are anything to go by.

It seemed the bus was the best option with the bus stop just up the road and one could buy a ticket ‘across the road’.The other option was the train although that was a 20 minute walk away.

Once we were ready we crossed the road expecting to find a ticket machine somewhere although we weren’t sure exactly where.

We asked at the petrol station and the guy indicated 300 metres along the road.Still we couldn’t find it.

At this point we should have gone back to the hotel and got the woman to actually show us as we should have done with the garage location when we arrived.

However we are the intrepid BBA V2 and we must show resourcefulness and so we headed towards the town are another few hundred metres on.

Still no luck and we drew a blank from two shops we went into hoping to find someone who spoke English.

On we walked thinking that OK if the bus wasn’t going to be easy then we would catch the train which we knew was up the hill from the hotel and our walk was taking us uphill so we must eventuall come to it or at least be on the same level where it ran.

An hour later and having done a large circuit of the town we arrived.......back at our hotel.

Give up,no way.So it was onto the train station which at least we did know where it was from our hotel location.

Never trust a train driver!We got onto the station thinking there would be ticket machines but no the driver said the book shop at the entrance to the station was where to buy them and we had 10 minutes before the train left.

The buying was of tickets was easy but the driver had fibbed to us for as we emerged from the subway across the tracks he was driving his train out of the station and only 3 minutes had passed.

Luckily trains are regular and we are at the end of the Metro line so our wait was only another 10 minutes.

The ride into Naples Garibaldi Square Station was through suburbs of large concrete apartment blocks.There was little in the way of green grass to see other than on the steep hillsides before the train headed into another tunnel.

Garibaldi Station is like Britomart in Auckland and was underground.

Emerging into the daylight we got our first glimpse of downtown Naples and we must say it wasn’t too bad.Perhaps that had been because the station area is kept clean by those running the city.Our impression of this changed as we walked on.

The travel guide books say you will either fall in love or hate Naples.We were prepared to give it a try to make us love it.

We caught sight of the top of the Duomo which we had as one of the sights to see on our walk but thought it would be best to have a map and we had left the tour book,which is heavy to carry,at the hotel.By the time we had walked around the station concourse trying to find perhaps a tourist office we wished we had ripped the pages from the travel book for reference at least.

Seeing the Duomo in the distance we headed off around a large area that was being constructed that looked like a new bus station.

There seemed to be more African street vendors than we have seen in one place before as we headed towards out goal.They were selling all the usual stuff although they looked like they had semi permanent positions as they did not have their goods displayed on the ground on white sheets that somehow snapped all their goods up if they spotted police who would move them on as in other cities of Europe we had seen them in.They made a colourful sight but we walked onwards.

At this point of the story it probably seems to you,the reader,that most of what was going on around us was fairly orderly.It was not!

Traffic was chaotic and loud and we encountered motorcycles ripping past us on the footpath,something which we had to watch out for during all of our walking in the old city area.

Clutching onto each other we made it across a wide street with cars,motorcycles,buses and light rail trams to dodge.Traffic lights meant nothing and why they bothered with them is anyones guess in this part of town.

We were wondering at this point if it was going to be worth it but the intrepid BBA V2 continued on past heaps of rubbish and waste on the footpath that reminded us of our experiences in India.Why a large city like Naples would allow this to happen was hard for an outsider to comprehend and it wasn’t as if there weren’t the large wheely skips that are everywhere we have been so far in Italy available to put the rubbish in.Granted some of those were flowing to overfull but not all of them.

Then a spot of good fortune,we spied a tourist kiosk and armed with a map we planned a route to take in the sights we wanted in a circuit that would take us back to the station.

First stop was the church Santa Caterina a Formiello built in the 1500’s and which had been part of the old city walls,part of which still stand at least 20 metres thick.The church was quite original inside with the columns looking as though they had not been touched for centuries.Along the side as in many of the Catholic churches there were small chapels given over to local important families of the past,all with their own history the reading of which gives you a sense and knowledge of how the city developed and was run by various families over the centuries.

We then made for Via Del Tribunali,which on the map appeared to be a wide street given the way it was drown.It turned out to be the opposite although traffic,mostly motor cycles and the odd small car,made it two way which meant you had to be on your toes when leaving the narrow strip that appeared to be the footpath.

We were pretty hungry by now so stopped at one of the numerous places selling pizza,paninis etc by the piece.These are fascinating little shops,big enough for a counter and display and space for half a dozen customers to stand at a ledge to eat their food.The pizza was not really a margarita,made famous in Naples,but was still very tasty and well received by us to recharge the batteries and keep us moving for the rest of the walk,all for €3.50.

As we continued on this Via we came across the Duomo and went inside for a look around.It was not as impressive of others we have been in but did have a beautiful and colourful flower arrangement at the head of the church.Afterwards we realised we had forgotten to look for the phail of blood that is supposed to appear to liquefy three times a year or a disaster will happen.Perhaps missing it was a blessing not to tempt fate with the brooding Mt Vesuvious in the background of this city.

We continued further on past so many little shops many selling food but other merchandise as well and it became clear as we passed by many narrow cross streets that this Via was the main shopping street for all the people who lived up what to us were narrow alleyways in the buildings that were so jam packed that we reckoned you could stretch out a first floor window and shake hands with the neighbour across the road.

Our walk took us away from the narrow streets and back to the commercial area as we headed for the Teatro di San Carlo,the principal theatre in the city and across the road the Galleria Umberto which is a spectacular shopping mall with a domed glass roof with all the big brand shops giving a huge contrast with the old city area shopping.

We had missed an English tour of the theatre and as we were starting to feel a bit weary after being on our feet for nearly 5 hours less the time on the train and our pizza lunch,we decided to give waiting for the next tour a miss.

In the area is also the massive Castel Nuovo,a past palace for Kings and Queens.There didn’t seem to be a way in or tours being held so again we opted for outside viewing.

Then it was on down to the waterfront and a walk back towards the railway station as we had seen the principal sights we had on our list.

As we made our way back we came across a Gelateria,the first and only one we saw today(perhaps Gelato is not that popular in Naples) and as we hadn’t had a gelato for 2 days we made a feast of what was on offer.

It wasn’t long before we were back at Garibaldi Square and onto a packed train heading for home.

As the train made its way back through the suburbs we pondered over whether we loved or disliked Naples and we decided we are of the former for even though the rubbish was an eyesore and the traffic crazy, we could see how the vibrancy of the city would grow on you.

So readers if you do get the opportunity visit Naples with an open mind and enjoy all that is gritty in daily life in this city.

Thankfully it was all downhill back to the hotel from the station and on the way we picked up supplies from the market near the hotel for our dinner.Tonight was another salad with the trimmings of yesterday plus proscuito ham and fresh fruit for desert.

Another full day with more new sights seen and experience of one of the more challenging cities in the world.


4th April 2013

Waste Management
Apparently the Naples "waste management crisis" has been going on since 2008 - since all the landfills are already full to capacity. Or maybe it's because all the 'Neapolitans' that are any good at "waste management" now reside in New Jersey.....? ;-)
7th April 2013

More Waste management
I remember waste management was a problem in the summer of 2001. Nothing beats ripe waste in a good Neapolitan sun.
7th April 2013

Yes but it gets worse wait for the blog as we head for Sicily
10th April 2013

International relations
Erin, are you trying to start another international incident with your blog comments? But you did make me laugh!
10th April 2013

No international comments as yet.Trying to make sure I don't make another 'tank' blunder again. The rubbish doesn't get any better the further we travel

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