Napoli may quite honestly be the armpit of Italy. Walk anywhere for more than five minutes and you’ll find dog poop on the sidewalk and trash littering the streets (sometimes in piles). But if that’s all you think that Napoli has to offer, if you stop there and run away from the strange smells, YOU ARE MISSING OUT.
This seaside city, the second most populated in Italy, is rich with culture, weird tasting alcoholic pastries, PIZZA, and stunning views. I decided last month to take a long weekend and go down to see the city and visit my friend, Liz. So Friday afternoon I found myself in Napoli Centrale, clutching my purse and thinking only of all the lost passport stories I’ve heard from this train station. From Centrale, I had some time to kill while Liz finished up her last English lesson for the weekend. I immediately walked down to the water to dip my toes into the Mediterranean Sea. It was a sunny day and I had another one of those “oh my good god is this actually real life” moments as I sat there ready to spend a weekend touring yet another city in Europe.
Friday evening I settled in and took in the beauty of the city from the rooftop. Next step, of course, introducing me to Napoli pizza. I mean they are credited for creating pizza so it is a fairly important thing to do. I was not disappointed!! We went to a small, local pizzeria just minutes away. It was incredible, plus it was almost half the price of an average pizza here in Milan. For dinner we met with three other au pairs from Napoli. I’ve so enjoyed this part of my year- meeting new people. It’s often easy to get along with a fellow au pair. You’re both away from the comfort of home, in a new country, learning a new language, and dealing with children. Those topics can keep a girl talking all night. During dinner we discussed our plans for the weekend and somehow came to the conclusion that the following day we would go kayaking. Best decision ever. Best day ever.
Saturday morning Liz made me French toast, the first that I’ve had since leaving the states, and it was a perfect start to the day. We met up with the other girls and headed across the mainland to find “Kayak Napoli.” If you ever visit Napoli, YOU HAVE TO DO THIS. The place is nothing more than a hole in the wall and some dudes sunning on the rocks (literally). The kayak’s are only 10 euros for an entire day and you can go anywhere. Warning: the place is difficult to find so be prepared. This was my first time kayaking and though I was quite, ah, flustered, in the beginning, I soon got the hang of it.
We kayaked through the Gaiola and continued around the west side of the mainland. We arrived to a small cove of a beach, where we decided to settle for the afternoon. The back and sides were steep mountains so the only way to access the beach was by boat. It was a surreal, beautiful, sunny afternoon, spent giggling with new friends. We kayaked back and, of course, stopped for gelato on our way home. Liz and I vouched for a night in and picked up take away pizza to end the day.
Sunday we decided to tour the city more. Lucky for us, it was the first Sunday of the month! Throughout all of Italy, you will find FREE ENTRY into museums on the first Sunday of every month. Perfect for a broke traveler like me. We started with coffee and a view (for the record- I paid 3x for this coffee and I don’t regret it). From there we visited the Castle Sant’Elmo and the museum below it.
For the remainder of the day, we simply walked around. We had pasta for lunch plus free limoncello. Napoli sits on a hill, so for most of the time you are either walking up or down. There are some pathways made up of never-ending stairs (example A to the left). Another thing about Napoli, the drivers are crazy. In Rome last month Liz and I joked about both of our cities having crazy drivers. Napoli beats Milano in that department, absolutely. There could be a car or motorbike around every corner, and you can never guess which way they will go or whether or not they’ll even stop for you.
Monday morning we woke up to dark skies with the promise of rain to come. We grabbed some pastries for breakfast and walked around more of the city, coming back along the seaside. Pizza was, of course, a must for my last meal in Napoli before going home.
Napoli is a treasure. It’s the most interesting city I’ve visited so far. And I look forward to going back.