NIPPING TO NAPLES AND POPPING TO POMPEII
Updated: Mar 22, 2021
The third-largest city in Italy, 'Napoli' dated back 3000 years and was known as Neapolis in ancient Latin, meaning 'New Town.'
It is 140 miles south of Rome and is the home place of Pizza and Neopolitan cuisine.
Nearby is still an active volcano in Mount Vesuvius, which destroyed the city of Pompeii.
POPULATION OF NAPLES - 3.085 million ( 2019 )
CURRENCY - € EURO XE CURRENCY to convert
TIME DIFFERENCE - +1 HOUR OF ( GMT )
Some facts about Naples
• The first pizzeria was opened in Naples in 1830
• Naples is one of the most densely populated cities in Italy
• A pizza was named after king Umbertos 1 wife Margherita
• There are 7 castles in Naples
• Naples is the Italian city with the most Michelin Star restaurants
We had a bus booked from Rome to Naples with FLIXIBUS.
We headed over to Rome's Tiburtina Bus Station to catch the bus to Naples. The journey was going to take about 2 hrs, 45 minutes. We were sad to say goodbye to Rome as we had a great time but excited to find out what Naples had to offer.
The journey was great, very comfortable and great to see the views out of the window; we did sleep for an hour, though, as Rome had caught up with us.
We had been warned about Naples; as beautiful as parts can be, it can also be perilous.
We had been told stories about bikes riding past and pulling necklaces off your neck and making sure that we didn't wander, so we had a bit of trepidation when we arrived at the Naples Metropark centrale.
As we disembarked the bus, we were greeted by a drunk lady shouting things in the street. The place looked like it had been described to us by some locals; oh! we started to miss Rome's cleanliness and normality.
It was only a 7-minute walk to where we stayed ANNAS B AND B FAMILY TERRACE, which we booked through BOOKING.COM for £127 for 3 nights.
We walked around the corner onto a pedestrianised area, and it was crazy busy. We struggled to find the place we were staying but eventually saw a little note near the doorbell on a large door and were let in after five minutes of waiting.
When we were shown our room, it was quite spacious and clean. We had a shared kitchen that provided a basic breakfast. The kitchen led onto a rooftop terrace which we loved and came in handy during the evenings.
We wanted to explore, even though we were told not to step out of the touristy areas as it can be dangerous, us being us didn't listen, and off we went for a wander.
Our way of finding things sometimes is not by google maps, but by choosing left or right or straight ahead or going back; we have come across random places using this technique and got very lost before.
So using our random technique, we soon realised why we were told not to wander; we didn't experience anything bad from anyone. Still, the sense of danger shuddered through us at points. We walked down a side street and came across a lot of guys all standing looking suspicious.
We stood out like a sore thumb as tourists, but I thought if you just strut and look confident, it would all be ok. Did get a weird look off Donna, wondering why I was walking like that 😂.
We had got lost and walked past little cafés with a group of hard looking old guys sitting outside; if you can imagine what mafia bosses would look like having a meeting, that is what these places reminded us of.
We had never seen so many mopeds in our lives ( this was before our Vietnam trip ) driving on pavements, speeding inches past your shoulders with a whole family on board and sometimes the weekly shop, too, I think. Take us back to Rome !!!
Our first impressions of Naples was rough, extremely busy and fairly dirty, so after a good 3 hours of wandering, we found our way back to our accommodation.
We sat on the terrace and had a well-deserved wine or two, just watching the chaos down below. We were joined by a couple of lovely American families, who were also on their first day in Naples and thought the same as us; it felt dangerous out there.
The next day we were off to see the ruins of Pompeii. Pompeii is famous because it was destroyed by the volcano Mount Vesuvius in 79 CE. The town's burial in volcanic ash preserved it for centuries until the ruins were discovered in the late 16th century.
When uncovered, people were astonished by the well-preserved town. Residents were found to have had perished in the exact spot where they were cowering from the eruption to even loaves of bread still in the ovens.
It revealed how the people of the time lived and how advanced they were, with underfloor heating and modern standard sewage system, which could be brought back into use, even though it was built 2300 years ago.
We needed to catch the train, so we left Napoli Piazza Garibaldi station, which was only a five-minute walk away from our B & B. We think everyone had the same idea simultaneously as it was rammed, queued to get our tickets but just missed our train as it pulled away as we got to the platform.
We try not to rush things as it only stresses you out; there is usually never a long wait for the next one, which did arrive swiftly.
Again, the platform was jam-packed, and we tried to find a carriage that wasn't going to be overcrowded, but no hope, so we jumped on the nearest one.
As the train left, we were like cattle off to slaughter. It was only 8 stops, but once you were on, you were standing in the same place until you get off.
A few minutes into the journey, I had a tap on my shoulder. Behind us were the 2 American families that we talked to from the B&B the night before, a strange coincidence!! ( A weirder coincidence happens later ).
They were off to visit the beautiful Almalfi coast, which we intended to do but never got there, to our disappointment.
Donna and I had talked about if we were going to get a guide or go solo; as we do most of the time, we said we would save the money and go solo.
Our stop had arrived. Half the train swarmed off onto the platforms with everyone doing the same typical tourist things, stop, look around to see which way to go, and then follow someone, which then causes everyone else to go that way course, we followed.
As you get to the exit, there were people selling tickets for entry to Pompeii. Still, in all the confusion, we had bought tickets. As we looked at the tickets, we were accidentally on tour. We had purchased a guide, as did many others who looked confused; oh well, we were in now, so let's just go with it.
We would suggest when getting off the train just wait back for a bit and then take your time as you go through as many people get caught up thinking they are buying entry tickets, where actually they are paying for a guided tour, and as we soon found out entry is not included.
As the tour started, we were fairly glad we found the guide. You will learn a lot more with one than without. It was quite hard to understand the guide. She had an extreme Italian accent, so we had to listen very carefully.
Pompeii was a beautiful area, and we were in awe at being at this place. The guide was very good at letting everyone take their photos and waiting till they moved on but about 40 minutes into the tour we were in a little mini amphitheatre, looking around and decided to sit for five minutes in the gorgeous sunshine, when we got up we had lost our group, somehow!!
After looking for the group, we decided we could do our own tour. It was good fun walking the old cobbled streets of Pompeii and visiting the brothels, bars and houses of the times' residents.
After a little while, we were hungry so used the map that was given to us by the tour guide, we arrived at a little restaurant down a side street which was difficult to find, as we entered the busy building we ordered a pizza and a drink and sat at a table.
To our amazement the table next to us was a couple who drink in the local pub back in the town we live in Cornwall in the U.K, in all the places in all the world we met in a side street in Pompeii on this day, another strange coincidence, it's a small world.
Pompeii is a great place to visit with so much history and just the amazement of how normal lives these people lived with being so similar to ours today.
If you are ever in this part of the world, you must visit but bring your own lunch and plenty of water as on a hot day it's like a sun trap, and don't rush you will enjoy it more.
As we only had 3 days here in Naples, the only plans we had were Pompeii, and the rest of the time, we will play by ear.
We did research and thought we should try the coast, so we jumped onto a train and decided after a few stops to get off and walk around and see what we could find.
As we got off the train and headed into the streets, we felt a different mood in the air. There were many more tourists and a nice vibe, with lots of high-end shops and a beautiful 19th-century shopping gallery, Galleria Umberto, named after the king of Italy at the time, Umberto I.
The architecture was fabulous and elegant; we stopped for a coffee just to admire it.
Moving on, we came across Gelato stands and other snack areas, also little park areas as you get closer to the sea, it was stunning, the views, the vibes and the peace this area had the whole Sha boom!!!
We dipped our toes in the warm ocean and then grabbed a gelato; when we came across a road that had been closed for a wedding, the couple were walking down the road with a drone in front of them and so many nice sports cars, and posh hotels.
What a difference to where we are staying ( we do like less posh places though, as they have more character, well I do anyway 😂).
The coast with Mount Vesuvius in the distance
Naples, a city of two halves, one side is dirty, bustling with a dodgy vibe. Still, on the other, it's rich in culture and food and has beautiful architecture with a great coastline and so much more nearby, including the Almalfi coast and Pompeii. As we got used to the area we were staying in, we did enjoy it more. Our final conclusion of Naples is you should come and just be aware of your surroundings and then relax and take in all the vibes and enjoy !!