Thursday, December 26, 2013

Trip to Naples. Discover a Treasure.

Our friends shared a lot of apprehensions when we told them that Naples was on our itinerary. Mafia, uncleanliness were some of the cons that people shared. Naples turned out to be exactly different. It indeed is a treasure.

Our journey from Rome to Naples incidentally happened to be our first train journey in Europe. We hopped on TrenItalia. The landscape that passed us ranged from eclectic open grasslands, to clinically linear farms to snow crowned mountains. The exquisite scenery simply vignetted at 300 Kph. The trains are a tourist attraction in themselves, we were quick to realize. Coach was absolutely neat, people astonishingly quiet, and space that was utilized functionally perfectly. There was an adequate occupancy, and was  far from being overcrowded. People were busy within themselves and their work. The suspensions were so perfect, that the coffee in our cups, bought from the pantry in the car, didn't even for a moment suggest of spilling. We had boarded a morning train and thankfully there was brilliant sunshine in both the cities.

Day 1

The first thing you would notice about Naples is that it's far less touristy than the other northern Italian cities like Rome, Florence, Venice or Milan, and relatively less affluent and prosperous also. Our hotel was few steps away from the train station, Napoli Centrali and the moment we stepped out from the station complex, we could find Hotel Ideal spot on. The Hotel rooms were on the smaller side but yes were functionally adequate. There was a dearth of (badly missed) lift, but the facility of bell boy more than made up for the deficit, atleast for the luggage. The reception was very helpful and tried to make up for the lack of infrastructure to the extent possible. We settled in our rooms and tied our shoestrings for a quick lunch (Pizza foe sure !!). Southern Italian state of Campania is the birth place of Pizza and Naples being its capital, you would find divine pizzas here. For many, trust me, tasting divine Pizzas (without exaggeration) can be reason enough to visit Naples.
Pizza at Naples
Experience Divine Pizzas at Naples

Lots of migrants from African origin can be seen selling the odd things on the streets. There is also a significant group of Sri Lankan origined people, displaced due to the civil war in their country.

Naples can be easily termed as the most affordable Italian city for shopping. Almost everything is significantly cheaper than the northern Italian cities. With the annual sale season around, there are some excellent deals for the grabs. After spending some time in the market, we headed to the old Town of Naples. This part is also known as the historical town of Naples. We witnessed major infrastructure projects taking place around the station. The old city, thus, was a welcome discovery. In all senses, it was a world different from its world. It was a bustling place and the architecture, as across almost all of Italy, breathtaking. We chose to walk our way through to visit Naples and that also turned out to be the best way. Witnessing high energy levels, we realized that we were quite close to the University area. We then spent our afternoon and evening across bustling markets, Castle Nuovo, Piazza del Plebiscito, to finally reach Castle Dell'ovo at Porto Santa Lucia.
Castle Nuovo, Naples
Castle Nuovo

The city view from Castle Dell'ovo was fabulous. Steps of light (the city being across hill) garland the littoral water across Bay of Naples and truly, the resilient fort stood guard to the city. Several boats drifted quietly in their dictated domains. The castle currently houses Museum of Prehistory, and at time of our visit, was playing host to a painting exhibition. Across the other side of sea, there is a battery of high budget restaurants. However, there is no point spending money here, as neither the food, nor the price you end up paying for the food is worth it. After spending some really good time, we headed to taste the BEST food ever in our sojourn. It was Pizzeria Sorbillo. The food was a culinary feast and nothing short of divine. The prices are appropriate with a lot of vegetarian choices also available. You can expect a waiting period of around 45-60 minutes in evening though. Without a second thought, Go for it !

We walked our way through to our Hotel and perhaps for the first time in our Italian tour, it was a little unsafe for the time of night. We reached safely and were gleefully smiling like school kids to discover our treasure, Naples!
European Souk

The next day, we went to visit Sorrento. Can't wait writing my post !

Shop What
Naples is one of the cheapest of Italian cities. Some Shopping ideas may include:
  • Jackets
  • Designer Hats
  • Kids wear
The suburban towns around Naples are even cheaper.
Visit Italy during annual season sale that generally takes place in January.

Bottom Line

  • Best Time to travel is during the sale season.
  • It isn't that cold as  northern Italian cities like Rome, Florence etc.
  • The public transport passes are quite cheap. There are seperate prices for weekends.
  • Food is absolutely deligthful.
  • Be careful. One of the most unsafe cities in Italy.
  • Historical town can surprise you with its beauty.
  • Castles are unique and a must visit.

Travel Facts
  • Stayed : 1and 1/2 days.
  • Stayed at : Hotel Ideal - No, not recommended.
  • Travelled with my better half and the journey could be easily divided in three phases. 
  • Travelled in TrenItalia from Rome in January 2013.

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