We had a choice between Naples or Pisa to head to after Rome…
Well hindsight is a wonderful thing. Our lack of knowledge of either place meant it was really a flip-of-a-coin decision, especially when comments such as “what does Pisa have except for the tower?” and “apparently they do good pizza in Naples…” punctuated our discussions about the two.
In the end the option of taking a regional train for only €11 from Roma Termini to Napoli Centrale meant that Naples won out. With it being the penultimate stop of our entire summer of travelling, we hoped to be (nearly) finishing on a high note. But Naples wasn’t going to fulfil that wish…
See I read a lot about Naples rampant graffiti scene and how it was supposedly just the “Neapolitan character” before we made the journey and was prepared for that sight. But you definitely can’t prepare for the general state that you’ll find the place in. There’s a lot of graffiti sure, but this isn’t an urban art scene, it’s – to me – just plain vandalism and a lack of respect for the city. It seems the “Neapolitan character” doesn’t extend to having any respect for the city and capital of the region.
And it’s not just that aspect that ensures Naples won’t ever win any beauty contests. I had thought that streets of dog droppings were supposed to be a French – and in particular a Nicoise – epidemic, but walking around the old streets of Naples is akin to walking through a minefield of the stuff. The amount of the stuff you could find on every pavement really was unbelievable, and yet again I had to question why the city’s residents would have so little care about their home.
The other aspect of Naples that isn’t the prettiest is the poor state of a lot of the buildings, particularly in the old centre. Now I had a bit of history knowledge and knew that Naples was bombed pretty heavily in World War II, but I was surprised just how many were in poor condition still.
During a mammoth walking session we walked all the way from Garibaldi station to the old centre, and then down to the water front near the ferry port. The scenery (and weather) made Naples look a lot more promising around this area, and indeed being a Sunday and seeing people out enjoying the weekend also contributed to that feeling, which was a welcome change from the run-down and really rather edgy atmosphere that seemed prevalent walking around the centre. Mind you, that atmosphere wasn’t helped by an extremely dodgy guy roaring up to us on a motorbike and rather forcefully trying to sell us an iPad. On a street corner.
So we ventured past the ferry port to what seemed like the nicer area near the water. Indeed the view of Mount Vesuvius – and I believe Capri – was a welcome sight, and a reminder of some of the nicer aspects of Campania. But once we got up to the walls, it was clear that the fabled Neapolitan “spirit” had made it’s mark here too.
By this point I’d really lost any faith I had left in Naples. It’s safe to say that I couldn’t my head around the culture of this city, and it wasn’t going be a place that I would ever be keen to return to. The whole rampant graffiti and lack of respect for the place really was astounding.
It’s somewhere that really should be an absolute gem with it’s location on the Med and under the watchful eye of Mount Vesuvius, yet it just seems as if it’s own inhabitants want to run it into the ground. I was delighted that we were only there for two nights, and we were happy to chill out in our B&B for the rest of our evening after our long day of walking.
A sweaty three hour regional train trip back to Rome awaited the next day, but after spending time in this dive, I was almost excited by that prospect. Safe to say our moods improved hugely when we arrived back in Rome the next day. It’s fair to say Naples wasn’t for me, and I hope our paths don’t cross again in future.
Oh I almost forgot, there was just one thing in Naples that I liked…
Did I just misunderstand Naples? Or are you not a fan of it either?