In his guidebook, Rick Steves describes the city of Naples as “crusty,” and understandably so. The facades of most buildings are crumbling, trash overflows from dumpsters into the streets, and graffiti covers bridges, alleyways, sidewalks, and even the side of a church. After spending a day in the city, I’d add the words “chaotic” and “crass” to his description, too. Men, women, and children on motor bikes and motorcycles dart through the narrow streets at high speed, dodging tourists and pedestrians and sending your heart racing when a bike brushes by. Street vendors hawk bootlegged children’s videos next to adult themed ones, and young couples openly display their affection in the most public of places.
But beneath all of that—and it’s easy to be sufficiently off-put by the crustiness, chaos and crassness not to take a second glance—there is a city with a certain charm and a palpable vitality that leaves you wanting more. The sloping, maze-like alleyways with windows and balconies draped in laundry out to dry have a simplicity and a character of their own. Maybe it was the beautiful sunny weather, maybe it was the friendliness of the old ladies sitting out on the street saying “hello” as I passed by, or maybe it was just the amazing Neopolitan pizza that I ate, I left Naples intrigued and wanting to go back.
Lucky for me, I’m only a 2 hour train ride away.
Here are some sights from the day: