2 April 2011

See Naples and DIE! [Italy]

I arrived into Naples to miserable, grey weather. Stepping out of the main station I was surrounded by about 10 African guys all trying to sell me an umbrella. I have seen these guys all over Italy, but in Naples they are like a swarm of locusts. I think they also have some kind of telepathic ability, because before the first drops of rain appear, their fake D&G sunglasses disappear and out come the umbrellas.

After a bit of confusion I met up with my host, Guglielmo, who lead me up a massive hill (OK, it was a small hill, but I had my big backpack on!) and put me on a bus to his place. Guglielmo is an awesome Italian guy studying at the University in Naples. He and his flatmates are great hosts, really helpful and and just cool people to hang out with and chat to.

I finally made it back to Guglielmo's flat, where I met Lucio, one of the flatmates. I spent a while settling in, then made my way back out into the rain. Being such a shitty day I decided to find the Belarusian embassey - as I need to get a tourist visa to enter the country in a couple of months. Several websites confirmed the address, I planned my route, and was on my way.

The first hurdle came at the 'metro' station. I use the term loosely, as it is not really a metro at all, just some kind of overland rail system. But at the same time, more confusing than a normal train station - there were no signs or anything to show you which trains go where. I could tell where where the trains generally went from the station, but there was no indication which was going in which direction. Add to that the fact that when I went to buy a ticket from the machine it just kept eating my money. I tried to tell the woman in the office, but she was absolutely no help. It seems when you can't speak Italian they just do not care.

So I found my way eventually, got off at the correct spot, and wondered if I was still in the same city. While Naples is not a clean city (infact it is really dirty! But we will get into that later), but this place looked like a bomb had gone off. There was just stuff scattered everywhere. And it was almost completely deserted. I found the address, but it was just an apartment block. A woman tried to help me, but she did not know where it was, and did not think the embassy had ever been at that address. Great.

Defeated, I headed back to town to meet up with Guglielmo. That evening we wandered for hours, as he showed me all over the city. Guglielmo is a really knowledgeable guy, so was able to give me a bit of history about the city. I found Naples to be a lot more 'gritty' than other Italian cities. There is a lot more graffiti, the streets are not clean... but I did not feel unsafe at all. It is more of a young persons city. There are two universities right in the centre of town and the students fill the streets surrounding. One good thing about being a 'young persons city' is that the food is so cheap! Compared to everywhere in Italy I have been so far, the food costs about half as much. You can get a whole pizza at a pizzeria for about €4! And there is all these awesome little deep-fried snacks for sale. Think potato and garlic balls, fried pasta etc. Afterwards we went back to the flat for an amazing dinner of pasta and meatballs made by Lucio's girlfriend. I also met the other flatmates who were all really friendly, funny people.

The following day I went for a trek up Castel Sant'Elmo - a huge castle perched on the very top of a hill overlooking the bay. It was a looooong hike up, but completely worth it when provided views like this. Yes, that is Vesuvius you can see in the background.

When coming down the hill I first noticed the rubbish. There are huge piles on the sides of the roads every few hundred meters. And I'm talking HUGE! I thought there must have been a strike or something going on, but I talked with the guys later on and they explained it was normal. Naples has a massive problem with rubbish, for many reasons, but the main reason I got was associated with organised crime. No, this is not a conspiracy theory, this stuff still goes on today! There is big money in rubbish!

I hit most of the other tourist spots in Naples that day, visiting the shore, Piazza Dante, Palazzo Reale, Church of San Francesco di Paola, Galleria Umberto I...

That evening I again met with Guglielmo and a few of his friends for a couple of beers. But meeting up for a few beers means something different in Naples. They don't go to pubs, they buy beer from the nearest corner store and sit out in the square outside the university. This is not just them, EVERYONE does it. We were there until quite late on a random Tuesday night and there was a huge number of people there even when we left. I think it is quite cool; you see all your friends, don't spend a lot of money, and just relax in the open air.

For dinner that evening we went to a pizzeria just around the corner. Guglielmo had told me about this deep-friend pizza and how good it was. Deep fried pizza? I gotta try that! It is basically a pizza folded in half (clazone) which they then deep fry. And yes, I am aware how unhealthy that sounds, but are you aware how amazing it tastes?

To finish the night we went for a 'killer coffee', basically a shot of espresso, then a shot of liqueur. I have never drunk espresso before coming to Italy, I always thought it would be way too strong for me. But it is so common here that I thought I should give it a go. And it is actually really good. Over the last couple of weeks I have actually slowly gotten in the habit of drinking one or two daily.

We missed the last bus home that night, so had to walk. No big deal, but it was only afterwards that Guglielmo told me that he was mugged one night walking home, and had a knife held to his throat!

I had planned on staying in Naples for another day, but my friend Fi is going to be in the Greek Islands for a few days next week, so I thought I might move on and try to catch her. And I felt as though I got a good taste for Naples. The title to this post is a well known saying, I think it means that once you have seen Naples, you have seen the most beautiful thing in the world, so there is no reason to go on living. Well, there is another opinion... A syphilis epidemic spreads outward from Naples to all of Europe in the late 1400's, so I guess it means that you see Naples and that's the end of that. I'm not itching, so I hope they cleared that up... Anyway, that morning I boarded the 'Circumvesuviana', which is a small rail system that runs around Vesuvius. A very cheap and easy way to get around that area. My destination was Pompei and the ancient Roman city that was buried by the Vesuvius eruption in 79AD.


  1. Well try not to die homieoats. Dang. I am still excited about your Pompeii visit... I always look at those pictures when I go to the library- it's just such a massive destruction and it was so quick. Amazing.

  2. ahaha nice title XDXD


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