Another month, another city. I have been truly blessed to be able to travel so much already within the first half of the year, which reminds me, it’s already the end of June?!
I travelled to Naples, a southern city by the bays of Italy, with a group of my friends at the end of May, so this post is overdue now. I have to admit, considering my lack of knowledge and expectations on my previous travels, it should come as no surprise that I had no clue where Naples was and what kind of city it was. Between deadlines and exams I had only seen one picture of the place and it set me up for a completely unexpected holiday. What I had imagined was, sandy beaches with traditional, Greek type multi-coloured houses on hilltops and generally the laid back, do-nothing type retreat.
It came through with its aesthetics because the google images were true to their photography. The houses looked magnificent, and the bay meant the apartments all had ocean view bedrooms. It was very scenic. But I realised when I arrived that Naples did not lend itself to the retreat type.
Instead, Naples was a humble old city filled with the natural, historic beauty of Italy. It stood stuck in a time where people closed their small simple shops early in the afternoon to spend time with friends, where people walked along the streets and or sat outside their houses to talk about everything and nothing. I noticed that the Napolion’s were always happy, friendly and welcoming wherever we went. I don’t exaggerate when I say I didn’t see a single unhappy face when I was there, the people really don’t cry (excluding when they are offended but that’s another story).
So although on the whole, Naples is peaceful, nonchalant and calm, it is the perfect location for travel between other towns and famous locations, most notably Pompeii. The coast allowed for oversea travels to smaller surrounding islands like Capri and even when remaining in Naples, the city hosts ancient castles, cathedrals and the city tour bus drives to the top of the mountain for quite literally, stunning views. It is no wonder that Naples and its people are proud and joyful.
I will go on to share a few of the pictures I captured while I was there but before that I wanted to share some of my experiences that will hopefully encourage travel to Naples but also prove as helpful tips.
In case not already obvious, the currency used in Naples is Euros which means that the prices there are relatively expensive, unless you know where to look (a bit like any place really). To find cheap food or cheap anything really it is advisable to look in a few places first before buying and always always ask the price of anything before touching it, (especially in shops that don’t have price tags located visibly on any of the items) incase they decide to rip you off or scam you by telling you it’s already been bought so you have to pay. The more touristy you look, the likelier it is they’ll rip you off. It sounds obvious but I say this because my friends and I dress in cultural attire and first and foremost this attracted a lot of attention but more importantly this meant, they thought we didn’t know how pricing worked.
Naples is often described as the birthplace of modern Pizza, so it’s inevitable that mostly all and any restaurant in Naples will be a Pizzeria if not a Pasta house. That being said, as it is also by the bay, you’ll find seafood, seafood and more seafood. My friends and I stayed in Naples for five days and our diet was simply pizza and on the odd occasion pasta. What was most interesting is that Pizza was both a cheap meal in some places but equally an expensive dinner in other places. Suffice to say both and either pizza tasted mouthwateringly delicious. The right amount of melted cheese, a perfect quantity of tomato sauce, topped with the all natural, organic and wholesome Italian dressings and ingredients. As Naples isn’t a popular tourist destination and because they are so proud of their food (as they should be) there isn’t a largely diverse selection of restaurants around so if you do fancy something different you’ll be looking for ages before you can find something. Equally, if you’re vegetarian or like us, only eat halal meat, you’ll be finding it difficult to find a variety of foods you can eat. I assume that most of the time the locals cook their own meals (like normal people) and if they do want a nice meal out (pizza obviously) they leave it to the professionals.
3. Travelling around and about
To go Naples requires a lot more planning than what we had done. There are so many places you can go to but you need to be prepared and organised about timings as well as well transport. For the most part, the taxis and the metros can take you everywhere. A single ticket from Naples to Pompeii cost us roughly £1.50 pp which is very good in comparison to UK travel prices. The entrance to the ruins are varied depending on ages and discounts applicable but once you’re in, you can spend as long as you’d like and this can take up a lot of time too (as there’s quite literally so much ground to cover). Mount Vesuvius is seen in the distance from the coast of Naples wherever you are. It seems to follow you around, so we felt that it is a must to visit if you ever do go Naples. In general though, Italy is just… Picture, instagram and snapchat perfect. Perfect for making people jealous.
A ticket to Capri on the ferry cost us roughly £20 pp which is again, very good. The prices aren’t too much of an issue so it’s more about planning where you want to go and how long you want to go there for. When travelling to Capri, you might want to take into account visits to the caves which may require at least an extra hour or two. The local bus here also takes you up to the top of the mountain and to the other side of the island, so, if you have the time it’s well worth the journey for more stunning views, making new friends and experiencing the simple life of a traditional Italian.
Some misconceptions people have about Italians is that they always talk angrily. Do they talk loudly? Yes. Angrily? No. They are the most happy and laid back people I’ve ever come across, they all walk slow, the queues are slow, they eat slow and serve slow. They are so chill. They are not only chill but they are so welcoming to strangers too. They like to take pictures, they might even photobomb, but they love to say hello and make a new friend. Having said that, this doesn’t mean they are naive in any sense, they know what they’re doing and interestingly they can get easily offended if you walk into their stores and then walk out without purchasing something, or… Walk in, take a long look around and then say no, wasting their time. That’s something to be wary of.
Another one, is that, Italians are lazy. Noooo. Again this goes back to their laid back character but they are by no means lazy, when they work, they work hard and if you take a look around you’ll always see people exercising or out for a run, or on a walk. I don’t think they’re being lazy they’re just enjoying life… And why not right? They live in such a beautiful city.