It’s been a while since we’d been anywhere near large numbers of people, Naples is a big busy city. ‘Tourist-tattle’ would have you believe it’s full of knife-wielding thugs on every corner and pick-pockets occupying 90% of public spaces, so this big city was always going to be a hard one to approach. If we are ever to make it in and out alive, we may need to hire a couple of 7 foot minders with suspicious bulges under the tuxedos and matching shades. From what I’ve read, the buses are packed and infrequent, the trains filthy & expensive, so only one thing for it, find a campsite close enough to deploy our secret weapon ‘Frankie-the-Moped!’ That was the plan, little did Angie know, I wasn’t too keen on zooming around ‘Mad-driver-Naples’ on an underpowered, overweight, hairdryer on wheels, but it seemed to be the best option.
Our chosen Campsite was also a little quirky, set inside the bowl of an active volcano. Ok it’s been decades since the last eruption, but its still bubbling away under the crust. Half the volcano basin is taken over by the campsite, the other half, the sulphur bubbling half, is open to tours of coach parties of school children eager to get a day out of the classroom. As campsite dwellers, we get to tour the sulphur bubbling half for free.
A couple of times whilst we were there the wind was in the wrong direction and we had to retreat indoors, it’s a smell that didn’t bother me much, but it may bother some. WiFi was good, showers and services good & perfect for a train or ‘Frankie-zoom’ into Naples. Just thinking, if the wind was blowing in the opposite direction back in AD79, when Vesuvius blow it’s lid, it may have been Naples under piles of ash, not Pompeii.
There are many attractions to see in Naples, art in abundance, paintings by all those famous painters we all know the names of (do we?) Being a couple of uneducated heathens, we ignore all that & head straight for the Cathedral, it’s impressive & it’s free! The original plan dates back to 13th C, but successive and repetitive earthquakes have ‘re-shaped’ the current building a little. Though the cathedral is mostly dedicated to St. Francis, in one of it’s side aisles, a silver bust containing the patron saint of Napoli, St. San Gennaro’s, full of real skull remnants. Just to add authenticity to the tale, a couple of silver goblets containing his (solidified) blood, which is said to liquefy at special events. Underground (normally a grottoe) archaeological area, is the 4th-century Basilica Santa Restituta, the oldest church in Naples, with ceiling frescoes and columns nicked from a Roman temple.
Back out in the side streets of Naples is a a busy, lively place. Hordes of sub-thirty-something’s meander from cafe to pizza outlet, grazing on traditional (claimed to be invented in Napoli) Neapolitan street food, which most definitely has to be pizza. It’s a picturesque collection of narrow streets with almost touching balconies, strewn with washing suspended above busy cobbled streets, lined with scooters. Every kind of shop outlet to be found, artisan crafts, bakeries, cafe/bars, book shops and butchers all survive next to each other cheek-by-jowl, with a constant city noise chatter & scooter engine noise. A lively city.
Needless to add, Naples or Napoli didn’t seem to be a dangerous place, driving is fast on bad roads so you need to keep your wits about you and eyes up your back-side. We didn’t go in after dark, so can’t comment. No 7 foot minders required.
Charlie Sleeping spots:
Volcano Sulfatara, n40.82725, e14.1398 Tight little arch to squeeze through. Campsite is inside the bowl of a bubbling sulphur volcano. ACSI €19 Ok WiFi.
Have a great week. Off to Rome next. X