Italian Mafia + Roman Ruins + Great Pizza = Naples

Trip Start Mar 13, 2010
Trip End Jun 12, 2010

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Flag of Italy  , Campania,
Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I stayed 2 nights in Naples (Monday and Tuesday)  saw the city, and Pompeii. It was an awesome city with great pizza. Will add later, Internet is a scarce commodity here.

OK here's what happened in Naples...

We took the cheap train from Rome to Naples on Monday morning. I had directions to our hostel, it was called Giovanni's home. We followed the directions but still managed to get lost in the narrow streets of the city. Luckily when we asked for directions, the Italians were very friendly and helpful, even if they didn't speak English. We eventually did find the hostel, and discovered it was nothing more than someones home. Giovanni ran the hostel out of his large apartment, and had several rooms filled with bunks for us. He also had a roof terrace that we could sit outside and have some fresh air. When we first got in, he made every effort to make us comfortable. He gave us a chair, let us put down our bags, and best of all, gave us a glass of ice cold water. Then he went on to give us all the tips to seeing Naples. He showed where all interesting sites were in the city. Made recommendations on what to see, if you were only in town for a couple days like ourselves. And drew out a route we could take through the city to see everything in a short amount of time. He also made us aware of the dangers of the city. Naples is one of the headquarters for the Italian Mafia, and occasionally there have been stabbings and other crimes committed on tourists that wander into the wrong parts of town at the wrong time. After our half hour briefing of the city, he showed us to our rooms, and told us where we should go in the city first, and where we could get the best pizza. We ended up seeing an Archeology museum, which ended up being a little boring. After that, we went in search of the pizzeria. We looked but could not find the right one, and ended up going to another pizzeria that was not very good, and we were told so by Giovanni. We turned in for an early night, so we could get an early start.

The next morning we took the tram out to Pompeii, and walked the ruins of the ancient roman city. There were so many details in Pompeii that re-animated life as it would have been in ancient roman times. Things like rut tracks from chariots on the streets, and stepping stones over the streets onto side walks to keep the rich peoples feet dry. We saw an aqueduct to bring water into the city, and an amphitheater for plays. There were different shops, some I could only guess what they were. There were gardens, and parks for the rich. Inns, stables, taverns, and even a brothel.
There were also houses of every size. You could usually tell which were from either the rich class, middle class, or of the poor class. The rich houses were larger, sometimes with more than one floor. The materials were more elaborate. The walls were painted, and they often had a courtyard in the back. Some still had sculptures and fancy stonework. The middle class had smaller houses, sometimes with a shop attached. They were not as elaborate or as nice. The poor class usually lived in a small two or three roomed house, that was very simple. The whole of the city was very civilized. I think if the Roman empire had not collapsed, we would have had the things we have today, centuries ago. Staying in Pompeii was like going back in time, and was a highlight of my trip.

After Pompeii, we went back into Naples and explored the city by going on the walk Giovanni suggested for us. The city of Naples is unlike any I have been so far. The streets are very narrow, and you often have to flatten yourself against a wall, and scrunch in your toes to avoid getting them run over. All cars are very small, and the majority of people use scooters or some other kind of bike. In our short stay in Naples, we saw very few vehicles that did not have a dent, scratch, broken mirror, or some other kind of damage. In addition to the streets being very narrow, the buildings were also very high for a Italian city. Most buildings would go up 4-6 stories on either side of you. Making it seem like you were walking through the Grande Canyon. As we walked we saw stalls selling hand painted Nativity pieces, and other delicately painted souvenirs. There wasn't much to actually see in Naples, it was mostly just the city itself that was worth seeing, but we did see some cool buildings, some kind of castle, and an old aquarium. We walked all the way to the beach, then headed back to Giovanni's, without stopping in any of the buildings.

On our last night in Naples, we were treated to some good Italian food by Giovanni. He cooked some pasta and beans, and gave us some white wine, which is literally cheaper than water here. A cheap bottle costs maybe two Canadian Dollars, and maybe seven for a good bottle. After dinner, he taught us some traditional Italian songs, then nominated someone from the hostel to play the piano. The show turned out to be very good, and ended up amusing everyone. After dinner, about 6 of us played the card game President until about 2 in the morning. The next morning we left our bags in the hostel, and walked around Naples again. Later that night we picked the bags up and caught a night train to Venice. It was very uncomfortable, and I got maybe 2 hours of sleep.
 The train took 9 hours and we got into Venice at 5:30 in the morning.
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