In Praise of Naples

That Crafty Feeling

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AgentPete

Capo Famiglia
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May 19, 2014
London UK
Hesitate to write this, since Napoli is (indulge me!) my own private discovery, and I don’t want it to be spoilt... but just entre nous...

Naples is a perfect place for a weekend escape. Overlooked by tourists, who use it as a gateway to other destinations, their aim is to get in and get out as quickly as possible, before the Camorra assassinate them or pickpockets denude them. (There is some truth to the latter... on the train to Herculaneum, watched an elderly and ostensibly respectable gentleman try to relieve another of his wristwatch).

But any big city has its dark side, and Naples is no worse than London, my home town.

The benefits are legion, especially to writers. The art is extraordinary. The history is deep and vivid. Living under a volcano gives an urgency and passion I have experienced nowhere else. The food is superb, cheap, and everywhere (best pizzas in the world, they invented them). Getting there is budget-airline cheap, out of season hotels charge modest prices.

Go with your wits about you, certainly – but go!

2015-12-05 12.12.28-1.jpg
A street in Herculaneum, just a short train ride away
 
I love the Amalfi coast, but never went as far as Napoli. I am blessed to have a sister in law in Rome and its quite a good place to stay for perfect pizza and my indulgence in all things classical Roman. I still get a buz looking at the police cars marked SPQR, ubelievable.

Had some wonderful time in Pisa and Tusacany, Orte, etc... enjoy your break, sorry I missed the 'first page', problems with dogs and returns to life in Spain.

From one Londoner to another.

Kevin
 
I've visited many cities in my time but have never felt so threatened as in Naples. As soon as I disembarked from the boat from the Amalfi coast (which is gorgeous) two policemen clocked me as a non-local and cautioned me to hide my valuables and to be careful. Before lunchtime I had witnessed two attempted muggings/purse snatchings and whilst I was having lunch, the couple next to me had their camera stolen from their table in plain view whilst they were eating (yes, I know, they shouldn't have left it there but still...) by someone running down the street.
They say 'See Naples and die', which sounds about right.
Don't worry, Peter - your private discovery is completely safe with me!
 
Ah, you saw some street theatre, then:)

I wouldn’t trivialise the petty crime in Naples. Especially in dodgy areas, such as the station, which is just scummy, and best transited as quickly as possible. Also, I’d avoid the prime summer months when the pickings are easy for the scumbags.

Avoid looking touristy. Don’t conspicuously carry valuables, e.g. cameras. Scooter snatch and grabs are a pest – they sell special bags in Naples that are resistant to being grabbed like this.

But... I often feel more threatened in London. For example, when you cross a road in Naples, you have to stare the cars down, even on a crossing, or they won’t stop! Once you get used to this, it’s actually pretty safe (it doesn’t feel at all safe for the first 24 hours or so). In London, such behaviour would be suicidal. The cars in my part of town take a red light to mean that they have special permission to mow down pedestrians. It’s the norm now for drivers to shoot stop lights. Get in their way and you’re roadkill.

Naples is definitely an in-your-face, high-energy place. New York on steroids. Life in all its giddy excesses. If you’re feeling like something altogether more mellow, the magical island of Capri is just over the water. Don’t be a day-tripper, find a small hotel out of the ridiculously expensive summer period, and you’ll have an unforgettable time there.
 
It has a magic I vividly remember. You felt somehow 'at home' there? Maybe you lived there in a previous life, hopefully escaping the great eruption. I day tripped to Capri, 1991 (!) and never did get to the villa of San Michele, as per the unforgettable book by Axel Munthe. I got to swim in the sea though, the only time I have ever have. In Napoli, we encountered an unfriendly police man, but then, he was carrying a rather big gun, possibly on high alert and not needing any distractions, and I had, in my ignorance, asked him for directions with much signor-ing and grazie-ing. He was not, he coldly informed me. a traffic policeman. Really? Whoops. Mi dispiace. Then we went to Herculaneum, looking very run down considering the massive draw that it is. But you could still see the prettiness and ...even things like the drain pipes, and it was so sad.
My parents on a more recent visit, were shocked at the rubbish in Naples, muttering you could see that the council was in the pockets of you-know-who but I am shocked at the litter in our country lanes and hedgerows these and as for the crime, as you say, and isn't Barcelona also notorious. The Amalfi coast in general is gorgeous beyond belief, the whole coast. I walked up Vesuvius, with about 500 other people, steaming gently...Vesuvius, I mean, though we probably were by the time we reached the top.
 
Hedgerows! I haven't used that word in years!! I know it sounds odd but these days people call them bushes..when did that happen. I like hedgerows.
 
Me too :) Coming back to the UK, as the plane comes down, the greenness makes me almost want to cry because I feel I'm home. (So does the rain and the fog, and the gloom - make me want to cry :))
I am much further north, but this is a Norfolk (north folk?) hedgerow.

View attachment 877

Beautiful country.

I'm currently surrounded by rocky terrain, dusty paths and arid air under sunshine and cloudless sky. Yes, I do love the contrasting experience of lush green England to barren mountainous desert. There's beauty in everything yet I always miss the English countryside.
 
It has a magic I vividly remember. You felt somehow 'at home' there? Maybe you lived there in a previous life, hopefully escaping the great eruption. I day tripped to Capri, 1991 (!) and never did get to the villa of San Michele, as per the unforgettable book by Axel Munthe.

Munthe’s house is utterly gorgeous, but you need to pick your time. It appears to be on the main day-trippers itinerary, so tends to be overwhelmed with people, killing the very tranquility they come to experience. By contrast, Villa Jovis (from whence Tiberius ruled his empire) is far less crowded. View from his bedroom below.
2015-09-12 12.21.55.png
 
'Mud, kneaded with blood,' said his tutor about him. Wot a view.

Add Yes, and that's why we didn't go up to San Michele. Buses on the quayside filled up right away, we saw the crowds and though, neh. Let's not.
 
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Ah, you saw some street theatre, then:)

I wouldn’t trivialise the petty crime in Naples. Especially in dodgy areas, such as the station, which is just scummy, and best transited as quickly as possible. Also, I’d avoid the prime summer months when the pickings are easy for the scumbags.

Avoid looking touristy. Don’t conspicuously carry valuables, e.g. cameras. Scooter snatch and grabs are a pest – they sell special bags in Naples that are resistant to being grabbed like this.

But... I often feel more threatened in London. For example, when you cross a road in Naples, you have to stare the cars down, even on a crossing, or they won’t stop! Once you get used to this, it’s actually pretty safe (it doesn’t feel at all safe for the first 24 hours or so). In London, such behaviour would be suicidal. The cars in my part of town take a red light to mean that they have special permission to mow down pedestrians. It’s the norm now for drivers to shoot stop lights. Get in their way and you’re roadkill.

Naples is definitely an in-your-face, high-energy place. New York on steroids. Life in all its giddy excesses. If you’re feeling like something altogether more mellow, the magical island of Capri is just over the water. Don’t be a day-tripper, find a small hotel out of the ridiculously expensive summer period, and you’ll have an unforgettable time there.
Sounds like just the place for Jason!! London sounds like Chicago, and that's my very favorite place. Many an early-morning hour wandering dark back alleys and getting into arguments with homeless people. And my wife and I have vowed to retire to Italy, but as yet I've never left the States.

Some day, I will walk that street in Herculaneum.
 
Hesitate to write this, since Napoli is (indulge me!) my own private discovery, and I don’t want it to be spoilt... but just entre nous...

Naples is a perfect place for a weekend escape. Overlooked by tourists, who use it as a gateway to other destinations, their aim is to get in and get out as quickly as possible, before the Camorra assassinate them or pickpockets denude them. (There is some truth to the latter... on the train to Herculaneum, watched an elderly and ostensibly respectable gentleman try to relieve another of his wristwatch).

But any big city has its dark side, and Naples is no worse than London, my home town.

The benefits are legion, especially to writers. The art is extraordinary. The history is deep and vivid. Living under a volcano gives an urgency and passion I have experienced nowhere else. The food is superb, cheap, and everywhere (best pizzas in the world, they invented them). Getting there is budget-airline cheap, out of season hotels charge modest prices.

Go with your wits about you, certainly – but go!

View attachment 874
A street in Herculaneum, just a short train ride away

A weekend escape. :) I wish.
 
Munthe’s house is utterly gorgeous, but you need to pick your time. It appears to be on the main day-trippers itinerary, so tends to be overwhelmed with people, killing the very tranquility they come to experience. By contrast, Villa Jovis (from whence Tiberius ruled his empire) is far less crowded. View from his bedroom below.
View attachment 878

That reminds me of Elba, in Portoferrario there is a miniture versailles which Napolean used to stay in when he was incacerated. From the walls you could see Corsica on the horizon. Not many tourists were around back in the 90's, I suppose it's all changed now, but the thing you could do was sit in Napoleans bath and have your picture taken, which I duely did.
 
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