I arrived in Naples, full of fear and apprehension. I’d seen the movie Gomorra and I’d heard stories of the Mafia’s notoriously bad influence there. I’d read the newspapers, I knew there would be rubbish everywhere. And I’d also been warned by Italian friends not to visit large parts of the city, “unless you want to be robbed.” To make the situation more dire, I was once again carrying all my worldly possessions with me. I was starting another adventure with no home and no job.
Emerging from the Metro at Piazza Dante, I knew my fears were unfounded. Naples is such a refreshingly vibrant city, with the most friendly and welcoming locals. So welcoming that our first stop for a coffee ended with us making friends with the bartender. He gifted us a tile from the bar, “so we could remember him and know where to come back to.”
As Naples is the home of the pizza, my only mission in the 24 hours I had there was to find the best the city has on offer. And in a restaurant that had been serving pizza for longer than Italy has been a country, I had the best pizza I’ve ever eaten. Waiting in a queue for 30 minutes just to get a table was worth every second when this scrumptious pizza was finally presented to me.
All of Naples tells a story, it just depends how hard you’re looking for it. The walls and cluttered alleyways told stories of love, hate and frustration through art, graffiti and destruction. We weren’t faced with the infamous rubbish problem that puts Naples in the headlines globally and causes the EU to threaten Italy with sanctions, but we did see some of the consequences of getting on the wrong side of the wrong people in this city.
We also got to see how much Neapolitans love their Roman cousins.
“The street is closed for works” – which often never happen when the money disappears.
Give me a city by the sea any day and I will fall in love with it. Give me a city by the sea with a volcano as a backdrop and I will feel like I am home again. Situated right on the breathtaking Gulf of Naples, with stunning sea views, salt in the air and the mighty Mount Vesuvius towering over it, I wanted to make Naples my second home. If it wasn’t for the scooters zooming past with 3 people on them (all not wearing helmets), I could have been in Auckland with Rangitoto as the backdrop. As the sun set, I found myself trying to work out when I could return.
Naples pleasantly surprised me in every respect. Even the pizza was beyond my already elevated expectations. My only disappointment was that I could only stay for one night.