Monday, 8 September 2014

Una Notte a Napoli

Before I went to Naples I was told three things:
       - Don’t wear any jewellery
       - Keep an eye on your bag at all times and definitely don’t take a backpack
       - Do not venture into the Spanish quarter because you won’t come back out again

Well, I managed to break all of these rules and still come out of Naples alive; and I’m so glad I did.

Naples is not a beautiful city on the surface - it’s crowded, noisy, a little bit tacky, and every piece of potentially beautiful architecture is covered in graffiti, but despite all these things the city definitely has its own particular charm. Naples sits by the sea and its main road runs parallel to the coast line which gives you a nice view of the Mediterranean, yet the road itself is full of the usual high street chains and nothing much of particular note. However, if you step off this noisy street, the rest of Naples is made up of a huge complex of wide apartment block buildings built between narrow streets and alleyways. There are religious shrines on every corner, laundry hangs from every balcony, live fish and fresh groceries are sold from corner shops, and lively Neopolitans shout and gesture in their own Italian dialect while playing cards and bartering in the street. 

Bay of Naples and Mount Vesuvius

See what I mean about the graffiti?

Nicola, a native Neapolitan and our wonderful self-appointed guide for the weekend, took us on a trip to the top of Vesuvius, the only active volcano left in mainland Europe. Vesuvius, which famously brought about the ruin of Pompeii in A.D. 79,  towers majestically above the city and is easy to see from miles around. We made our way up to the summit which amazingly was still emitting smoke. The view from the top is wonderful and all around us we could also see rock 'rivers' and debris left over from previous eruptions. We also passed  the remains of the old cable car station which used to bring visitors up to the summit but which is now completely destroyed thanks to the last eruption in 1944.

Napoli & Vesuvius

Summit of Vesuvius

Alex & Nicola at the summit

Vesuvius is the most monitored volcano in the world because of its particularly volatile nature and also due to the vicinity of Naples and many other smaller towns on its borders. Nicola has lived his whole life under Vesuvius and told us how school children in nearby towns regularly have to practise ‘Volcano drills’ and evacuations much like others practise fire drills. The people living next to Vesuvius have at most a 15 day warning before an eruption, and each town and the families within it are issued with a twin town and family elsewhere in Italy to evacuate to in an emergency. The people of Naples are characteristically relaxed about living underneath a fire-breathing volcano. On the drive up to the summit we passed houses, restaurants and guest houses, all just metres from the top!

We were also lucky enough to visit a beach on the Amalfi Coast about an hour’s drive from Napoli which was stunningly beautiful.

We also managed to fit in an evening out in Portici, a small town near Napoli where we sipped cocktails on the pier, and quite bizarrely even got our own little Italian audience purely because we were speaking in English.

This next picture doesn't really have anything to do with this blog entry, but I found this huge piece of graffiti on the pier in Portici and couldn't resist taking a photo:

No comments:

Post a Comment