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Bruce and Marija go to Naples, Alba, Neive, Turin, Florence and Paris

Bruce and Marija go to Naples, Alba, Neive, Turin, Florence and Paris

Nov 4th, 2010, 07:51 AM
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bardo1 is offline  
Nov 4th, 2010, 02:19 PM
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"would" not "wound"-oops
TDudette is offline  
Nov 5th, 2010, 10:35 AM
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Taste of Naples--Day 2

Breakfast at the Donna Regina starts at 8:30 so we make sure we're there when the doors open. Why take the chance that somebody else will devour all the good stuff while you're sleeping or showering? In our best Italian we chirp out a greeting to the cheerful hostess and sit down at the beckoning table: bruschetta with beautiful tomatoes, a small omelet, cornetti and breads. Perhaps we can be excused, since it was our first time at a foreign B&B, for not politely inquiring how many ways this spread was to be divided. After all no one else was there. Bruce was about to cut the omelet into two (unequal) pieces for us but I suggested that we forget the eggs and go straight for the bruschetta. So we did, making a reasonable dent in the platter. Only after our tardy breakfast mates arrived did we realize that the petite omelet was for everyone to share and that the plate of bruschetta was also communal property. Fortunately the hostess/cook had some more bruschetta ingredients and, with a mildly threatening glance our way, added them to the platter. On subsequent mornings we smugly watched as newcomers lunged for the entire omelet. We weren't able to display our good manners by taking only our fair share of bruschetta since each morning four (small) pieces, which we politely shared with each other, were set out for us.

We didn't have a clear plan for the day (see first sentence!). To be blunt we didn't have any plan other than buying a SIM card that wouldn't give our phone indigestion and just poking around a new city. Since we were staying a week we hoped we didn't need an hour by hour schedule to hit the highlights.

The first stop was the Duomo di Napoli since I was anxious to admire it before the onset of the San Gennaro festivities when it might become too crowded for leisurely exploration. (San Gennaro is the patron saint of Naples and twice a year his coagulated blood miraculously liquifies. Careful planning (not) ensured that we would be in Naples on his feast day, September 19th, when the odds were strongly in favor of a miracle.) The main attraction of the interior of the Duomo is the Chapel of the Treasure of St. Gennaro, which contains notable frescoes and altar paintings.

I was anxious to head down Spaccanapoli, literally Naples- splitter, the long east west street that, frequently changing names, cuts Naples in two, but we didn't turn on it since it wasn't a likely destination for mundane items like SIM cards. That's where you go shopping for items like crèches. Not soon enough we found a phone store and pulled out the uncooperative phone. For a mere 10E and a copy of our passport, we bought a SIM card which would take an hour to spring to life.

The question now was: Where are we? Whenever I've gotten us really lost and it looks like a long walk to anywhere we want to be, I assure Bruce that I know of a good place for food or wine right in this very neighborhood. This time, since I could vaguely make out water on our left, I proclaim that Gran Cafe Gambrinus, (www.caffegambrinus.com ) a choice destination for good espresso and pastries, must be near.

Less than an hour later, after numerous plaintive "Dove e Piazza Plebiscito, per favore?" we were sitting at the edge of Piazza Plebiscito, in Piazza Trieste e Trento, drinking a Caffe Gambrinus and savoring wonderful non-sfogliatelle pastries. Caffe Gambrinus, the drink, is said to be a shot of espresso, a teaspoon of cacao powder, milk foam, whipping cream, and chocolate sprinkles on top. Even Bruce who doesn't like his espresso diluted with anything, including sugar, enjoyed the drink and the break from walking. Caffe Gambrinus is definitely a worthy detour, although lower priced drinks and excellent pastries are everywhere.

We were eating non-sfogliatelle pastries at Caffe Gambrinus because the acclaimed Sfogliatelle Mary was within reach at the Toledo street entrance of Galleria Umbertus in whose shadow we were (almost) sitting. More than an hour had passed since our SIM purchase so before settling the bill we gave the phone another try. Nothing.

A visit to Sfogliatelle Mary's, or Naples for that matter, is not for the abstemious--all of the pastries beckon. We settled on one each of the crispy sfogliatelle (ricce) and the softer version (frolle). The frolle, which we've not had before, quickly became our favorite. Galeria Umberto I is fashioned after the Galeria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan and shares the characteristic of being eerily deserted, though it has a couple of phone stores, which we visited in vain hopes of buying an inexpensive simple phone to match our SIM card.

Since we were not far from the waterfront our next destination was Castel dell'Ovo, named after the legendary magical egg inserted in its foundation. A small fishing village (Borgo Marinari) around the eastern wall of the castle is known for its marina and restaurants. Unfortunately, the route we took to the waterfront was unnecessarily long and not particularly scenic, skirting a park and highway. On the waterfront opposite Castel dell' Ovo are several of the most expensive hotels in Naples. Although they have a great view of the sea, for my taste they're too far removed from the bustling street life of Naples.

All that fresh sea air and we're hungry again. Since this wasn't a "planned" stop, I was uncertain where to eat. I was carrying loads of info, pages from
Plotkin's newly revised book, http://www.amazon.com/Italy-Gourmet-...12528&sr=1-1#_

Carla Capalbo's Guide to Eating in Naples and Campania http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/187...lance&n=283155

The Cadogan Guide to the Bay of Naples and Southern Italy,

just to name a few.

While I researched options Bruce was getting hungrier and more impatient. Plotkin recommended the dining room of one of the hotels across the street but we wanted to stay outside and plopped ourselves at a seafront table at Zi' Teresa at Borgo Marinaro 1. The next dilemma was how much to eat and drink since we wanted to make sure we were hungry for dinner and could also fit in a food and eat stop while making our way back to the B&B. Our order was a meager half bottle of wine, grilled sardines and a caprese, all of which were excellent.

After lunch we faced a long almost 4 mile walk back. (Fortunately at the time we didn't know it was 4 miles!) On the way we stopped at Bar Mexico for both hot and cold espresso, bought a cheap cell phone for 29E, and got hungry enough to stop at La Stanza del Gusto (http://www.lastanzadelgusto.com ) for a cheese and salumi tray, washed down with glasses of Aglianico. The selections on the tray were excellent and we enjoyed sitting outside watching kids play soccer. We wanted to return here to explore the interesting dinner menu but each time we returned it was closed, defying the hours posted on the door and website.

Dinner was at Sorbillo, Via dei Tribunali 32 . The address is critical since there are lesser Sorbillos on Via dei Tribunali which attempt to capitalize on the reputation of the Gino Sorbillo. We weren't the only ones lining up for pizza on a Friday night. The wait was estimated at half an hour but was really more like an hour and a half. You give the hostess your name and then you wait outside straining to hear your name above all the racket. Pizzerias are among the few places in Naples that prize efficiency. Immediately upon taking our small table at the door we were presented menus and quickly placed our order: sparkling water, a bottle of the house Falanghina, and buffalina and diavola pizzas. Although we usually order our pizzas sequentially so they're as hot as can be when we eat them, it didn't seem prudent to attempt this special request. Both pizzas were excellent, with the buffalina having the slight edge. In a little over half an hour we were done and out of there. In Napoli you don't linger in a crowded pizzeria. On our walk back we noticed potted plants being placed in front of the Duomo. Preparations were underway for the upcoming miracle.
Marija is online now  
Nov 5th, 2010, 01:07 PM
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You are my kind of traveler, Marija!
ekscrunchy is online now  
Nov 8th, 2010, 07:14 AM
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The Archaeological Museum and Pizzeria di Matteo: Naples Day 3

After breakfast we headed out to the Archaeological Museum, with a stop for espresso en route. After trying various entrances and being turned away because we were neither handicapped nor a group, we made our way to the ticket counter where disappointment awaited: the exhibit of mosaics from Pompeii was closed as was the Gabinetto Segreto, the erotic art collection from Pompeii:http://museoarcheologiconazionale.ca...-museum/P_RA12
Although we tried, we couldn't find out if the closure was for that day or a longer period of time-- segreto descibes well the hours and exhibits of many Italian museums. We were fortunate that the entire museum wasn't closed for our week long stay.

After contentedly wandering around the museum for several hours we rejoined the throngs on the streets. Even though the streets were packed shoulder to shoulder on this sunny Saturday we felt perfectly relaxed and safe, no one showed the slightest interest in our pockets or my new purse. Fear was building that we would leave Naples without having a good story of how we cleverly thwarted thugs and pick pocketers...

Our destination was the famous Pasticceria Scaturchio (Piazza San Domenico Maggiore 19) where we were confident we could sneak in an espresso and pastry before lunch. Our route on Spaccanapoli crossed the Piazza Gesu Novo where we succumbed to a cold coffee concoction on the pretext that sitting we could better appreciate the facade of the Chiesa del Gesù and the boisterous students from the nearby university who were milling around grabbing shots of espresso and entering, but never leaving, a secret locked door.

By dallying over the drinks we missed our chance to see a wedding and the inside of the Chiesa di Santa Chiara which was across just across the piazza. As we (at a suitable distance) joined the photographers taking photos of the wedding party outside, the custodians locked the church, never to unlock it when we were passing by.

It wasn't difficult to find the Pasticceria Scaturchio on the lovely Piazza San Domenico but it too was inexplicably closed, keeping those same segreto hours. The large outdoor seating area was empty and the doors locked. We would just have to head to lunch without sampling their sfogliatelle.

Our B&B host recommended Al 53 on Piazza Dante 53 for lunch and we enjoyed our meal of caprese, linguini with vongole and pacchieri with seafood while sitting on the piazza. In Naples, unlike other large Italian cities, you don't have to worry about "tourist-trap" restaurants, since there don't seem to be many identifiable tourists.

Dinner tonight was to be at Pizzeria di Matteo ( http://www.pizzeriadimatteo.it ). Continuing our habit of looking for pastries before meals we headed over to Piazza San Domenico Maggiore to see if Pasticceria Scaturchio had opened but it had not. (At least once a day we passed by the shop and it was never open. ) To assuage our disappointment we turned to wine, taking a seat at the Gran Caffè Aragonese (http://www.grancaffearagonese.it) on the same square. Spirited entertainment was provided by the local urchins playing soccer. (The locals at the next table warned me not to wear my gold watch on the street. Since my watch is gold only in color I hadn't give that much thought. For the rest of our stay in Naples I kept the not-gold gold watch inside my purse.)

After last night's wait at Pizzeria Sorbillo we were expecting a crowd at di Matteo --but just not this large. The sensible strategy would have been to go elsewhere but sensible and Naples just don't go together. Bruce elbowed his way in and came out clutching a number. We stand close to the door where the number-caller appears since we don't want to chance missing our number. In less than an hour we're standing at the entrance waving our just called number. Not so quick. Turns out those numbers were for placing to-go orders. Very unsympathetically we're returned to the street with our name now on the bottom of the eat- in list.

So we wait for another hour, still wedged in front of the door so we can hear the names being called. We're ready to pounce on anything that sounds similar to the easy name we've given but we hear nothing that could possibly be us. As the crowd thins I'm able to work my way in to see where we are on the list. Brusquely I'm told that we've missed our call. At least they decide to seat us now. Two and a half hours after arriving we finally place our order for a funghi e salsicce con panna and a margarita with mozzarella di buffalo. They're good. After all this is Naples.

Well after midnight we walk back to our room, past the Duomo which is surrounded by numerous candy stands, police cars and onlookers. Tomorrow's the day for the miracle...
Marija is online now  
Nov 8th, 2010, 07:27 AM
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Reading with much interest and we always appreciate the inclusion of websites.
TPAYT is offline  
Nov 8th, 2010, 07:45 AM
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Hope to read that you can get back to the Pompeii stuff at the museum! After first being appalled at the lack of lining up for things, DH and I quickly learned to push in. This came in handy when taking a loaded bus on Friday afternoon!

Enjoying this very much.
TDudette is offline  
Nov 8th, 2010, 08:49 AM
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I've been enjoying your TR so far - wish I'd been able to spend more time in Napoli! Ah, the espresso (and the pizza and the pastries...). I loved that there were all sorts of local brands of coffee!

FWIW, the Gabinetto Segreto was closed when we were there in early May of this year. Now that you mention it, I don't remember seeing the mosaics either - so maybe that was closed too? According to my Fodor's guide, the Gabinetto Segreto has "only become fully accessible [since] 2000". Hmm...
ggreen is offline  
Nov 8th, 2010, 09:15 AM
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Waiting with baited breath for your section on Piedmont and fascinated that you have been to Zielona Gora too. - The company I worked for before moving to Italy has a big facility there and I have spent many a day and night in that location, actually not too bad if you have friends and know where to go, but I'm happy to be in Italy
Sampaguita is offline  
Nov 8th, 2010, 12:44 PM
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Thanks for reading!
eks--we travel very differently. My travel companion will skip lunch only in a dire emergency!
ggreen--I'm relieved to know that the mosaics and Gabinetto Segreto were closed when you were there. I regretted not going back and trying again. Now my conscience is at ease!
Sampaguita--where were you when I was looking for info on the hotspots of Zielona Gora?! A miracle, a near disaster, and then we're in Piedmont.
Marija is online now  
Nov 8th, 2010, 03:41 PM
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Marija, we were there at the same time as you so it is fun to read your report. We were also very disappointed that the mosaics at the archaeological museum were closed. I guess the San Gennaro miracle is coming up.
rialtogrl is offline  
Nov 10th, 2010, 04:31 AM
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La Festa di San Gennaro --Naples Day 4

No need for an alarm clock to wake us today. Through our open window we hear shouts and car horns that are much more intense than other mornings. Since it's our first Sunday in Naples we don't know whether this is anything unusual or just the late night crowd returning home. Although we're right around the corner from the cathedral, despite our most acrobatic efforts on the small balcony we can't actually see what's happening on Via del Duomo, the most likely source of the commotion.

Today is September 19th, the feast of San Gennaro, the patron saint of Naples, and we're eager to participate in the celebration and, of course, witness the regularly scheduled miracle of his centuries-old coagulated blood liquefying. Unfortunately we're not at all sure of what this participation involves, except for gorging on candy and nuts from the numerous stands laden with colorful sweets that have sprung up near the Duomo. The guidebooks are irritatingly silent about details, warning only of huge crowds and possible long waits until the miracle occurs. They are quick to point out, however, that if the miracle doesn't occur we should abandon Naples ASAP, since terrible events (erupting volcanoes and the like) are expected.

At breakfast I jokingly ask the host what time we should expect the miracle and he deservedly laughs off my question, telling us that no one knows but fireworks will announce the event. For lack of a better plan we set off towards the cathedral, expecting that the throng will be so huge that we won't get anywhere near it. But we should at least be able to observe the pick pocketers at work. Wrong. Only a couple of hundred people are gathered outside the cathedral, although a much larger number are inside attending High Mass. What should we do? The prospect of standing on the steps all day, even in anticipation of a miracle, doesn't really appeal, especially since the locals seem to have dismissed it as a good option. Characteristically Bruce proposed espresso, equally predictably I propose we try to jam ourselves into the church.

Our quandary is immediately resolved when an English-speaking Italian tells us that the miracle has already occurred and that the archbishop of Naples will soon bring the reliquary with the free-flowing blood outside so that we too can see it. Sure enough, in a couple of minutes the archbishop and his entourage emerge from the cathedral, displaying the now liquefied "blood" in a transparent ring which he rotates so that you can see that the red liquid inside it flows freely. Fireworks explode, the small crowd screams in gratitude and awe, the cardinal prays, blesses us and goes back inside the cathedral.

Since the people who were at the Mass are still in the cathedral we decide to join them. Once again we're surprised that it's not difficult to get inside and watch the closing ceremonies. There's not much left of the service and soon the cathedral empties as well. We later learn that conveniently the miracle almost always takes place during High Mass. If we had known this we would have attended the Mass and witnessed the events leading up to the it. Upon our return home I was asked if we had seen the procession that takes place before Mass. Maybe that's the commotion we heard. That's another event we unknowingly missed.

(As an aside, the Vatican does not consider the liquefaction of San Gennaro's blood an authenticated miracle. Even poor San Gennaro himself was in danger of being ousted as a saint during the great purge of saints but managed to survive, perhaps with a little help from the camorra.)

Now what? We were planning to spend the day hovering near the cathedral waiting for the miracle and it's over before 11! If the stands around the church were selling food instead of candy, that would be a reason for staying in the area, but no such luck. Espresso is always the fallback so we set out in search not only of espresso but also of pastries and a pleasant place to sit down. Since it's still early on Sunday many places, including the elusive Pasticceria Scaturchio, are closed. Our destination is then via Toledo, home of many cafes, but a failed shortcut takes us through a dismal area without food or drinks of any kind, if you can image that in Naples. When we reconnected with via Toledo the first place we saw was L.u.i.s.e., via Toledo 266, a cafe and take-out, with lots of nice seating outside. Bruce refuses to walk further, though I assure him that better places wait round the proverbial corner. The pastries and espresso are unexpectedly fine and we enjoy sitting in the sunlight watching the throngs of pedestrians on via Toledo, wondering why they seem oblivious to today's miracle.

The beautiful weather determines our next destination-- the waterfront park of Villa Comunale. We take a scenic route through ritzy Chiaia, surprised by all the elegant designer shops on our path. Several hours vanish quickly as we observe the bucolic activities in the park. And then we have to confront the inevitable: Where's lunch? Since it was Sunday many places on my list were closed. After suitable debate we agree to walk to Mergellina and see if we can squeeze in somewhere for some serious food and wine. We bypass Chalet Ciro despite its great location on the waterfront, since it serves primarily gelato and pastries, and continue on to Ciro a Mergellina http://www.ciroamergellina.it. Our timing is exemplary since the lunch crowd of beautiful and handsome Neopolitans and their children is thinning and there's a vacant table awaiting us. I know this isn't the best place for seafood in Mergellina but it was exactly what we need after our 6 mile hike. Besides the bottle of wine we feasted on octopus salad, fried sea creatures and linguini with seafood. The waiter was mildly annoying and gestured for a tip when we were leaving but we didn't care since we were well fed and rested and also had had the opportunity to observe the very chic locals who undoubtedly don't venture into our part of town.

We passed on espresso with lunch since I assured Bruce that we could take the nearby funicular to upper Mergellina and sip espresso while enjoying great views of the bay. It took a while to figure out where to buy tickets (a machine on the street) but the ride up was quick. Since we didn't know where to get off we just stayed onboard until the top, reasoning that views must improve with distance. This was not a good idea. There's nothing up there-- not a cafe, not a bar, and to add to this injustice, no views, since buildings obstruct everything. After a wander we located the funicular again and returned to our starting point.

Emboldened by our first success with public transportation , and wanting to protect Naples' streets from unnecessary wear and tear, we took the Metro back to piazza Cavour. Upon surfacing from the Metro we're engulfed by the huge crowds around the Duomo who are eating luridly colored sweets and pacing the streets. We bypass the treats which don't even tempt us and return to the quiet of our B&B for a rest before dinner.

A late and large lunch made a light dinner strangely appealing and, since we would be climbing Vesuvius the next morning, it was just as well not to haul extra weight with us. Our host recommended La Stanza del Gusto and that seemed like a good choice since we enjoyed it on our previous visit. The walk to Piazza Bellini took longer since the crowds hadn't dispersed but we persevered, only to find La Stanza del Gusto shut tight. We started walking, hoping we'd find an open pizzeria somewhere, but gave up shortly, since we were no longer in top walking form. We returned to Intra Moenia, one of the cafes on Piazza Bellini, hoping that we could cobble together a dinner there. We did and it wasn't very good. Perhaps the best cooks are off on the feast of San Gennaro. Despite the deficient dinner, we left confident we've stashed away enough calories to propel us to the top of Vesuvius tomorrow.
Marija is online now  
Nov 10th, 2010, 01:02 PM
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Marija, I'm so glad you wrote about the San Gennaro festival - and relieved, too, that we didn't miss all that much by not seeing it. Living in NYC, the annual San Gennaro Festival is a big deal in Little Italy, so we were naturally curious what it's like in its native city. As for my experience in Naples, we ended up spending way more time than we'd anticipated in the cathedral! At first we were only going to peek in - given the NYC connection - but ended up exploring all the nooks and crannies. The crypt was fascinating, as was a closed-off room with portraits of all the bishops(?) on the ceiling...
ggreen is offline  
Nov 13th, 2010, 06:07 AM
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rialtogrl--Please feel free to add your impressions here. How did you like your apartment in Naples? What did you do?

ggreen--The San Gennaro festival was disappointing. Perhaps we missed interesting events (and food) on streets in other parts of town.

Stranded on Vesuvius---Naples Day 5

The plan for today was clear, unless the weather wasn't--Vesuvius and Herculaneum. Since we still hadn't seen any crime, I was looking forward to finally experiencing the dangers of Piazza Garibaldi and the notorious Napoli Centrale train station. In preparation, I left my purse behind and just tucked the essentials into a money pouch and my well protected pockets. The route from the Metro to the Circumvesuviana was well marked through the clean, modern railway station with shops lining the corridors. Seeing Hudson News was a bit jarring. Buying a roundtrip ticket was easy, though we did check with locals before boarding the train to make sure it was going our way.

Vesuvius was to be our first stop since climbing to the top would be easier before it got hot and our batteries began to discharge. As far as I can tell there's only one way to get from the Ercolano-Scavi stop to the beginning of the Vesuvius climb without a car and that's to buy a ticket for the 10 passenger van that departs from a small building to the left of the train station. The bus won't go until it's full but that wasn't a problem for us, since many people were waiting to get onboard. (Our ticket included both the van ride and admission to the park.)

The ride was about half an hour up a windy road with great views of the bay and Naples. Before we got out the driver told us to be back in an hour and fifteen minutes. Obviously the bus company wants to do as many round trips as possible each day so the proposed climb time is short. I had read about this and asked the driver (in English) if we could take the next bus down if we weren't back in time for our scheduled departure. He agreed.

The admission fee entitles you to a walking stick which, unlike our jackets, is an excellent accessory. You tip the giver upon its return, a good strategy since if you don't make it down you don't need to unnecessarily deplete your estate. Along the path there are a couple of refreshment and souvenir shops and some benches for enjoying the view or catching your breath.

How long does it take to get to the very top? I read estimates that ranged from 20 minutes to an hour and a half. At a leisurely pace we took a little less than two hours roundtrip with only photo and brief rest stops. Bruce was determined to go to the very end of the path, until he reached the Do Not Enter sign, so that's what we did, although I think we could have quit a good 10 minutes earlier and not missed much, except for the Do Not Enter sign. We didn't pay attention to time since any of the returning vans would take us.

After returning our walking sticks we walked over to a white van which looked like the kind that had brought us up to ask what time he was going down. The driver screamed at us as if we were toddlers who ran out into oncoming traffic! No we could not take just any bus down we had to take the very same bus that brought us up and had left without us with our two empty seats. His position was clear and oft repeated, very loudly: "This is your problem, not mine."

I left Bruce to absorb the Italio-English abuse while I went to evaluate other options. The tour vans from other companies in the parking lot were reserved only for their clients. No public buses. Not a taxi in sight. Our phone was back at the B&B so we couldn't ask their advice or attempt to summon a taxi. The walk down is very long...
Marija is online now  
Nov 13th, 2010, 06:29 AM
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Oh noo, how can you leave us hanging?! What a story.

I'm loving this report. Hudson News in Naples? oy.
NanBug is offline  
Nov 13th, 2010, 06:50 AM
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Marija, a cliff nanger in more ways than one!! Can't wait for the next installment...

NanBug, we were so astounded by the Hudson News, I just had to take a picture:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/5157792461/

I had not been to Naples in over 20 years, the last time as a backpack-toting college student. Not a shred of the old station -- with its high ceilings, worn marble and aroma of danger -- remains. Quite a shock for me to see, but we were both grateful at the efficiency and clear wayfinding of the modern incarnation!
ggreen is offline  
Nov 13th, 2010, 07:17 AM
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Funny, ggreen! We're heading to Naples in January, can't wait.
NanBug is offline  
Nov 13th, 2010, 08:24 AM
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just found this, and I'm left hanging off the cliff - how long, Marija, how long?

great report which brings back memories of the one and only time we went to Naples, over 30 years ago, on a day trip from Sorrento. it was an exciting and slightly frightening place to an 18 year old, but we lived to tell the tale.

your worries about your personal safety also remind me of the story told by a young Italian of my acquaintance, who was once caught in a traffic jam in Naples, and with his companions was trying to work out on the map where they were as they were completely lost. it turns out that italians who do not hail from Naples [he happens to be from Rome], also share our fears of the natives, and his concern increased as the driver in the car next to them got out of his car and walked round to his side. in trepidation he wound down the window to see what the cabby wanted. "where were they going"? Fearfully he replied with their destination. "Follow me" said the other driver, and when the traffic started up again, he led them safely out of Naples.

They are not all villans!
annhig is offline  
Nov 13th, 2010, 02:01 PM
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annhig, now you've reminded me of my first experience with Naples... over 20 years ago, coming out of the old Centrale at dusk and trying to find the way to our pensione. We'd had enough sense to have the pensione in Rome call ahead and book a room for us, and we knew to get a taxi and not take flack from anyone who might accost us. (I was traveling with a redhead and a blonde -- I'm a brunette -- and we'd already gotten enough reactions that we were all both wary and confident by this point, if that makes any sense. Haha, being 19!)

We got a cab on the first try and off we went. But then the guy dropped us in a piazza somewhere with a vague gesture where our lodging was supposed to be. At every turn, we'd pull out the Let's Go with the listing, surrounded by animated old ladies gesticulating and arguing in Italian, none of which we understood. Suddenly, two rotund men on a Vespa pulled up, asked in English where we wanted to go, and assured us they would get us there. The blonde and I didn't want to risk it, but the redhead pointed out that we weren't much better off staying where we were, and off we went, away from the lighted piazza, what felt like a long, long way away, then down a narrow dark street with what I swore were cavernous pits (auto body shops) and leering men -- to be deposited politely at the door of the pensione!

The last chapter of the story was that the two men wanted to take us out the next night. When they came by, we tried hiding in our room but eventually were persuaded to join them. The three of us squeezed into the backseat of a VW Jetta and the two of them up front, speeding up to the highest point in the city, convinced that now we really were going to die. But my, what a view of the bay and the sparkling lights that ring it. The men were total gentlemen who just wanted us to see another part of their city -- and probably to dispel some stereotypes along the way!
ggreen is offline  
Nov 13th, 2010, 03:45 PM
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Oh no! Cliffhanger indeed!

Marija - we walked - a LOT - just like you. And ate a lot of pizza of course, were disappointed by the archaeological museum but loved the Capidomonte museum, went to the free MTV concert in Piazza Plebiscito, went to Herculaneum one day...

I wish I would have had 6 weeks not 6 days. But, one day I will go back and for longer.

My friend went to the San Gennaro mass but I did not go because I don't like large crowds in enclosed spaces. But she reported the same as you did - there were just not that many people there.

Look forward to reading more, and seeing how you got yourselves out of this scrape!
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