I arrived into Naples with a bit of a hiss and roar. I used Blablacar again as my method of transport, but as my lovely driver wasn’t heading right into the city itself (he lived outside it), he raced to get me to the train station just in time to get me on the hourly train into the centre. Such a nice guy. Then while on the train, a guy got pickpocketed making me think what I am getting into? Are the Naples rumours true??
When telling people I had Naples on my itinerary, the majority of them winced and ooh why do you wanna go there? Don’t you know that’s where the mafia is based.
I couldn’t explain my Naples urge but I just had to go there. Located near the famous Pompeii village, volcanoes and the gorgeous Amalfi coast (my next intended destination), the pull of Naples felt irresistibly magnetic. I did do a bit of research on the Naples bad press, and from what I could work out, it was actually all a bit of exaceration from the Godfather movies, and the main risk of crime was just petty theft. Which can happen anywhere.
I was about to discover the magic of Naples all thanks to an Italian man named Giovanni whose hostel I was about to stay in. His passion for Naples was so inspiring and infective that within half an hour of checking into his hostel, I had already cancelled my Amalfi coast accommodation and extended my stay in Naples. All in a usual days work I suspect for Giovanni.
When you arrive to check in, Giovanni begins his magic with a rather long speech about Naples history and its’ sights. It was honestly better than any walking tour I could have done. I had so many ideas for what I wanted to do and see. And Giovanni takes the time to go through the crime statistics for Naples which I found quite interesting. Naples does have a bad reputation but according to police reports and internet poll statistics, Rome and Barcelona are actually much worse with the amount of reported crimes annually being more than double, even triple that of Naples. Interesting.
Despite that, Giovanni did still encourage all of his guests to take as few valuables out onto the streets as possible, and to be less obvious about being tourists. Fair enough. It is still Italy where pickpockets are at large as well as people on scooters who snatch backpacks and handbags as they zoom past pedestrians.. He did also circle a couple of areas on the map as don’t go there places. Hm.
The next day I went scuba diving in the underwater Archaeological Park of Baiae. It. Was. Amazing.
Image from smartertravel.com. Wish I had an underwater camera
I went with another chick I met at the hostel. And the only reason I went was because Giovanni showed some photos of the underwater city during his Naples speech. I never even knew Naples had such a cool diving spot!! How awesomely unexpected!! The water was warmer this time at 19 degrees so I was able to complete two dives that day with a big smile on my face and only some shivering at the end.
photo from fashion-tour.com
The next day was dedicated to Pompeii. First a group of us went to a place called Herculaneum which is another village on a different side of the volcano to Pompeii. It’s much more intact and better preserved than the Pompeii site but only because of the way the wind happened to blow 500 years ago when the volcano erupted. Entry €11
The town still continues on around the ruins
Then it was time to climb Mount Vesuvius. The easy way to get up the volcano is by taking a relatively cheap shuttle bus up. It’s a round ticket which includes entry to the Volcano site for €20. You still have to climb the rather steep trail for the last 600 metres or so to reach the crater. And it’s a hard slog as the trail is quite uneven and slippery but so worth all the hard work.
Looking up towards the peak
Just hanging next to the crater
The view of Naples from the top
I was surprised by how ordinary it looked on the inside. But then I saw some steam coming out of a crack!
Last up on the agenda of the day was Pompeii itself. Entry €11.
These pretty red flowers were everywhere in Pompeii
I found seeing the various plaster casts of victims around the site quite emotional
This one was a dog :(
Inside the amphitheatre
Part of Pompeii with Mount Vesuvius in the distance
The site is overwhelmingly massive and very emotionally impressive. After four-five hours of wandering around, the group I was with all voted our feet were too sore to continue, our camera batteries were almost dead, out brains just couldn’t take in any more sights.. It was time to head back to Naples for some delicious pizza.
Stay tuned for part 2
Where I stayed: Giovanni’s Home
Price: €20 a night in an 8 bed dorm
Overall: Fantastic hostel. Giovanni is a very lovely man filled with passion for Naples. He is great at giving lots of ideas and recommendations for what to do and see, and as guests of the hostel, there was often a small discount for a lot of the attractions. He would often just randomly cook up a big delicious pasta meal for free for all the guests, and even took me for a ride on his motorcycle to show me what Naples looks like at nighttime. His hostel was considered one of the top ten in the world in 2012.