The Hendersons Naples
2014 Trip to Italy and Malta
The drive to Napoli was uneventful until we got into the town. Oh dear, we thought the Pan American Highway in Costa Rica was rough – nothing compared to some of the roads in Napoli. We bounced our way to the B and B, which was right in the historic district. We hadn’t realized that Napoli was in the midst of building a large extension to the subway system, so there was construction everywhere. It was a real mess. Our host gave us a business card for a nearby restaurant, so we walked the few short blocks to it for dinner. It turned out that the USS Bataan was in port for a couple of days. We could easily pick out the crew members who were walking around town – clean cut, short hair, a few tattoos on some of them, neatly dressed. We spoke to three of them who were having dinner at the same restaurant. They had been at sea for nine months and were returning home.
Monday our friend Antonio took the train from Sorrento to Napoli and met us at the B and B. We walked to the street in old Napoli that has the shops where the presepi (crèches) are made. They are works of art. Some are very large (we wondered where in the world you would store them when they aren’t on display). They are mostly made from wood, some have rocks and mosses and can be extremely elaborate, with figurines, lights and probably even running water.
We also went into the church San Lorenzo, which was also in the Centro Storico. There are remains of a Roman settlement under the church. We also went into the Duomo, which was quite beautiful. After several hours of walking and sightseeing, we were all tired, so we bid Antonio goodbye and he headed back to Sorrento.
We had dinner in a restaurant about eight blocks from the B and B. Napoli isn’t the easiest city to navigate – the streets are not on a grid plan by any means and sometimes the numbering is a bit mysterious. Once we found the restaurant, we had a pleasant meal and enjoyed chatting with the staff, both in Italian and English.
Final day in Napoli. We walked to the famous opera house, San Carlo, the largest in Italy. It is beautiful, but the façade was covered in scaffolding, as was the palace next door. There is a large piazza in front of the palace, and a church facing opposite. The church was closed and was covered in graffiti. We had lunch at a pizzeria and the waiter stiffed us €2. Not a lot of money, but really annoying. They say the most cheerful thieves in the world are in Napoli.
We had dinner at the same restaurant we had the first night in Napoli. The city is exhausting, what with the noise, the crowds, the construction and constantly having to be wary of thieves.
The hostess at our B and B was Croatian and spoke Italian very rapidly. I am not exactly sure of what she was telling us, but I believe she was lamenting business conditions in Italy. The taxes are high, the booking agency (Hotels.com) takes a cut and she has to pay the pizzo or protection money. She wanted us to pay cash, but we didn’t want to be seen at an ATM withdrawing a large amount of cash, so we decided to pay with a credit card.
We were both glad that we were leaving Napoli. It could be a great city, but we won’t bother coming back, there are too many other places to see.