A few weeks ago, I decided that finally, it was time. I had been in France for over two months and I wanted to see more than just my town. I decided to hop onto the Kayak website, and book some flights to another country. It didn't really matter where I went, I just wanted to see somewhere unique and different from my normal, day to day life. I submitted the city of my closest airport and Kayak provided me with prices of flights to surrounding destinations.
My cheapest option? Naples, Italy. Booked!
Three weeks until my trip meant that I had only three weeks to plan my weekend away. I asked "The Locals" used Pinterest and the Google Trips App to compile a list of the major things that I wanted to see, during my few short days away. I've now been and come back, and thought I'd share some pictures and highlights of my trip with you. I can barely scratch the surface of the things that I experienced, but if you'd like to hear more, let me know, and I'd love to share with you!
The city of Naples itself is so incredibly unique. Although many of the streets feel very small and enclosed, the culture itself feels very open, with just how people's lives seem to extend from inside their homes to outside and onto the streets around them. Buildings everywhere had multiple stories where people lived and a balcony accompanied just about every window. I had a few people mention that Naples was known for being unsafe as well as dirty. As per being unsafe, really, I would say that it is about the same as any other big city. I wandered around on my own in the evening, long after the sun had set, and felt very safe, as there were many lights and seemed to be people around just about every corner that I turned. For being dirty, if it was, I honestly didn't notice - I was just so overwhelmed by what incredible things surrounded me. The biggest danger during my time seemed to be the traffic - I think that the philosophy there must be "Just don't hit anyone and don't get hit," as there are limited marked crossings for pedestrians, cars are everywhere and scooters constantly weave in and out of traffic.
The city seemed so lively, with places on every corner to buy food, especially baked goods and pizza! I spent quite a bit of time wandering the streets and visiting beautiful locations, as I passed them - churches, public buildings, statues, the famous mall etc. I eventually ran into another English speaker from Ukraine, and spent some of my day with him. I find that when travelling solo, it tends to be fairly easy to connect with other solo travelers, as you already have something in common.
With so many things to see, I was glad to fit in a walk along the harbour, which overlooked the Mediterranean Sea on one side and the gorgeous city on the other. I managed to share some pizza with a new friend, as we looked down over the city, lit up by the evening lights. I was determined to walk down Spaccanapoli, (translated in English to Naples splitter,) the main street that splits Naples into two sections, and it was the last thing that I did, before I concluded my final day in the city.
For my full day, I decided to take the Circumvesuviana train to Pompeii. (For the record, the name of that train is SO hard to say in Italian - I had someone trying to teach me how to pronounce it, with little success.) Once I got to the bus stop for Mount Vesuvius, I ran into another Canadian traveler, whom I ended up hiking up the volcano with. Unfortunately, it was extremely cloudy at the top, and we couldn't see a thing. I legitimately asked what side the volcano was on, as I couldn't tell. We were at least glad that we could say we had been there, and once the bus had driven to a point below the clouds, we had the most incredible view of the city below.
I entered Pompeii and was immediately blown away with how spectacular it was. There were so many parts to the city and after spending about 5 hours walking around, there was still quite a few things that I hadn't managed to see. I was glad for the large map as well as the free booklet that I could take with me, which had information about many of the locations marked out. At about 3 hours in, I was starting to get really exhausted, but I was determined to stick it out until close, so that I could see as much as possible. Some of my favourite parts were the amphitheater and graveyard, as well as some of the exhibits with items and preserved bodies that had been found. There was even an excavation going on, continuing to uncover more of the historic site.
Anyone who knows me well, knows that I am a HUGE foodie. I love trying different things, especially really good food. I had made a list of foods to try for my time away in Naples. The first, most important thing that I wanted was real, Italian pizza. I had researched ahead of time and discovered that I had to look for a sign that read "Vera Pizza,"to confirm that it was official and made in the correct way. I managed to sit down at a restaurant in Naples, after I returned from Pompeii, to have some of this delicious pizza. I even walked close to a mile, just to find this place, but it was worth it! I also managed to check deep fried pizza off my list, which I bought from a street vendor, on my way to the restaurant, and stored it in my backpack for later on, as I didn't want to miss out. While in Naples, someone recommended that I try babbà, a baked good soaked in rum. I managed to find one and was given the option to try the traditional type or one stuffed with cream or chocolate etc. The final thing on my list to try was Sfogliatella, which was a pastery, stuffed with fruit and ricotta, which actually turned out to be my first food purchase, once I arrived.
At the airport, I walked past one more bakery, selling traditional Italian pastries and I caved, buying both a pistachio cannoli and a pastry stuffed with pistachio cream, being my last opportunity to try more Italian baked goodness. I'm thinking pistachio garnishings are very popular there, as I was also able to purchase some pistachio gelato ice cream, just as I was entering Pompei.
My trip to Naples, was certainly jam packed. I would have loved to see more, but I am so glad for all of the things that I managed to fit in during my few short days away. I'm thankful for the beauty that I was able to see, the chance to experience a brand new culture and language, and for the opportunity to visit somewhere completely brand new to me. What a beautiful city!
Have you ever visited Naples? I'd love to hear from you; what was your favourite part?
Ciao for now.