Nervous about Naples

Old Jul 29th, 2005, 09:47 AM
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Nervous about Naples

Hi there. My sister and I are traveling to southern Italy next week and have made Naples our base. I'm getting nervous about security, however, particularly because we were going to take a train from Rome to Naples. We are two blonde women who don't speak Italian and are worried that we're going to stick out for criminals. Any hints or suggestions??
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Old Jul 29th, 2005, 09:55 AM
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Can't you ask someone at your Philly paper? It sounds lik eyou are using this board for research on the cheap.
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Old Jul 29th, 2005, 09:58 AM
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I recently visited Naples (mid-May 2005) and I LOVED the city. We based out of Sorrento but I would not hesitate to stay in Naples-proper (not right near the train station however).

Here is an excerpt from my report:
DAY TWO: "On the 2nd Day of Pizza..."
NAPLES Ė SEX AND THE SEXY

We had planned to go to Pompeii on Day 2, but we decided we didnít want to get up quite early enough to beat the crowds so we opted for Naples and the National Museum of Archaeology instead. We roused ourselves from bed about 9am and after a couple (ok, I admit it, I had three) cappuccinos we were feeling pretty energetic and perky. We walked to the station and after a few wrong turns from reading the map backwards we found it and caught the Circumvesuviana train to Naples.

At the Meta stop, a group of Italian teenagers (probably about 13-14) got on. There were 4 boys and 3 girls including one stunning young woman who had the "art" of flirting DOWN. We watched in amusement as she managed to keep all 4 of the guys completely enthralled with her long wavy hair (tossed over her shoulder at just the right moments for effect) and fluttering green eyes. We also observed the increasing malcontent of the other 2 girls. Ah, jealousy.

Upon arrival in Naples, we took the escalator upstairs from the Circumvesuviana tracks and went into the TI (tourist information) booth on the right. We had researched the Campania ArteCard and had decided that the 3 Day Pass for 25€ was a good option for us. For those who havenít heard of the pass, details can be found at this website - http://www.campaniartecard.it/index.php?lingua=2 . The general gist of our card was that we were given free access to one major sight, 50% off admissions to all other sights, free transportation on all the trains in the region (including the Circumvesuviana, metro and SITA bus system), a map of Naples, and varying discounts on audioguides and in bookstores. We would later discover that the week we were there was "Cultural Week" and all of the sights were absolutely free... however, after seeing Pompeii and Paestum we were both really happy that we had spent the money on the card if even just a little of it goes toward the conservation of these world treasures.

Map in tow, we ventured out of the train station in what we hoped was the direction of the museum. The area in the immediate vicinity (a 3 minute walking radius) of the train station is the only area of Naples in which I didnít feel completely comfortable. An hour and fifteen minutes later we had not found the museumÖ I was having a marvelous time soaking in the pulse of Naples and DH was quite grouchy about his failure to make any sense of the map. The streets of Naples are laid out almost like a Medieval city Ė narrow, winding, few street signs, and lots of alleys and small no-name piazzas. The city and especially its streets overflow with people Ė all sizes, all colors. The city exudes passion, energy and vitality that is hard to describe, calling it "alive" is a vast understatement.

We didnít do so well with our navigation attempt, despite a valiant effort, but we did find a leather shop so all was not lost I wanted to get my Dad a wallet for Fatherís Day and this shop had a great collection. My Dad is an amazing person... I hope I am like him some day. He is one of those true "salt of the earth" people, Iíve never met anyone more caring or generous. Even though he could afford the best he always prefers the simple and understated. Picking out a wallet for him was agonizing because I wanted to get him something he would like, even though I know by now that he treasures anything my sister or I give him. With DHís help we ended up with a black classic-looking trifold. Anyway, after our hour and fifteen minutes of circling and shopping (with me peering into every café, pizzeria, and ristorante that we came across) I was pretty hungry.

While DH consulted the map (more like cursed the map), I perused the "fish stand" on the corner. I grew up in Dallas and have spent the last few years in Colorado so I am a true product of a "land-locked" upbringing I guess. I found the different types of fish on ice very interesting as Iíd never seen many of them before and the man running the shop let me "water" the rock-looking things (oysters or were they clams?) with a spray hose, further endearing Naples and its charming people to me. For someone who abhors seafood, this was surprisingly a lot of fun! We found a neighborhood pizzeria without an English menu (sorry, I didnít write down the name) very near the big castle-gate structure, I believe it is called Castel Cuavano. DH had Pizza Diavola (spicy salami, mozzarella, and tomato sauce), and I had Pizza Margherita with little green peppery leaves ALL over it. It was fantastic, the little leaves really made the pizza. They werenít basil and I donít recall the Italian word for them. Lunch was about 10€ including cover charge. I was able to get good directions to the museum from the waiter by asking "per favore, dove Museo". We were there by 2:30 (in about 10 minutes)... DH had an adorable sheepish look on his face when we discovered how close we had been

We used our ArteCard to get into the museum and we got 2 audioguides for 4€ thanks to the discount. We got reservations for the Secret Room for 3:15pm at the booth next to the audioguide booth. The ArteCard discount in the bookstore is 15% and we bought several books on our way into the museum. They accept credit cards. The museum is AMAZING, the Farnese collection will leave you breathless. One thing that I found disturbing is that flash photography is apparently allowed in all of the rooms. I am no expert, but I had always assumed flash photography must be damaging to works of art because so many museums prohibit it. Be sure to see the collection of sculpture, the mosaics taken from Pompeii and Herculaneum, the Temple of Isis diorama, and the Sundial room. We were there on a Sunday (May 15th) and the museum was fairly empty with the vast majority of the visitors being Italian.

Alright, now for the SEX promised in the title. The Secret Room, a collection of ancient erotic art (much of it from Pompeii), is on the same floor as the mosaics. We arrived at 3:15pm like our card said to but no one was checking tickets. The frescoes and penis statues/amulets were interesting but not the most interesting items in the museum at least in my opinion. I found the wall of different frescoes that were used in a brothel as a menu of services to be the best items in the collection. As I believe ira said in his fantastic trip report, sex hasnít changed much in the past 2000 years. We went through the collection at the same time an Italian couple (probably in their late 40s) did. We had a blast watching them because the husband would point to the most graphic pictures, the ones depicting different sexual positions, and whisper to his wife and she kept giggling and blushing and shushing him. They left with their arms around each other and an intent look on their faces, so all you ladies who bring your men to the museum keep in mind what this room can inspire

THE SEXY: We spent about 4 hours in the museum and saw most of the collections that were open. We left about 6:45pm, walking out via the street that becomes Via Toldeo. I will probably butcher the spelling, but we hit the streets just when the passegiata was heating up. Hordes of people take to the streets, strutting their stuff for a couple of hours while chatting with friends or shouting into cell phones. The sidewalks fill up so they flood the streets. And the Neapolitans look damn sexy while doing it time-honored ritual Ė pointy high high heels, skin-tight pants, short skirts, unbuttoned blouses, see-through pants with lacy thongs underneathÖ these people know how to entice, let me tell you! We had a fantastic time strolling the streets, rubbing shoulders with them.

We decided to stay in the city for dinner and found, you guessed it, another Pizzeria. Pizza twice in one day, a college student's idea of heaven. I'm a couple years out, but I still enjoyed it I actually wrote this one down it was so good - Pizza e Contorini on Via Diaz. It was about a 20 minute walk from the station (10 minutes from the Galleria). Pizza for both, aqua naturale, and house wine came to about 16€. We made it back to the train station without a single wrong turn and caught the 9:43pm Cirumvesuviana back to Sorrento.
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Old Jul 29th, 2005, 09:59 AM
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I would not stay near the train station. If making Naples your base, stay near the water in the Chiaia district or even up in Vomero. Obviously don't walk around with cameras, wallets, etc visible and, if carrying a purse, keep it under your arm, close to your body. Perhaps Sorrento makes a better base for exploration if you are that nervous.
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Old Jul 29th, 2005, 10:07 AM
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yeesh, few people here in Philly have gone to Naples. I figured people on this forum, specifically geared toward travel, would have the best advice. This is for my own trip, not something with the newspaper, as I believe the post made clear. Thanks to those who answered
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Old Jul 29th, 2005, 10:15 AM
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We are staying by the water. The reason we are in Naples instead of Sorrento is because we are using my sister's hotel points and her network didn't have anything available in Sorrento. There are so many amazing things to see in the Naples area that we figured we could tough it out - we're mostly using the city as a base. We're just starting to get a little nervous, tho, as our departure date looms.
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Old Jul 29th, 2005, 10:24 AM
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Since you're worried, you might want to use a money belt rather than (or in addition to) a purse/tote.

You could wear hats (seriously I laughed when I first heard this posted but other light haired woman suggested wearing scarves to be somewhat less noticable in areas they were concerned about).

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Old Jul 29th, 2005, 10:59 AM
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sorrento is a much more relaxed and better base transportation wise if you're doing the Amalfi Coast (frequent buses from Sorrento) as well as Capri, Pompeii, Ischia, etc. Sorrento has few of the angst you may have, rightly or wrongly, in Naples, which does have seedy areas - like around the train station. Consider saving the points for later and enjoy your trip a lot more
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Old Jul 29th, 2005, 11:11 AM
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Hi Z,

>...worried that we're going to stick out for criminals.<

Do you mean you would be mistaken for criminals or that criminals would notice you?

Either way, you are more likely to be propositioned than robbed.

Naples is like most other European cities - full of pickpockets.

Take the usual precautions. The fact that you are blonde will make you no less recognizable as Americans than if you were brunettes.

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Old Jul 29th, 2005, 11:14 AM
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and here I was picturing Zinders as Scandanavian!
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Old Jul 29th, 2005, 11:18 AM
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I'd say you'd have as great or greater chance of being pickpocketed on the Paris metro than in Naples! Amsterdam, Rome, Florence probably as great as well - Barcelona, Madrid much great.
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