Let me start out by saying that I visited Naples on my own a few years’ back. It was just a quick
stroll from the station and around the city for about two hours before heading back to Rome. It was interesting but I really didn’t get a sense of the city. Now we have a client that I know that would like to go to Naples but the rap on the city is that it has a lot of petty crime. So off I went with my man bag in hand for a virgin overnight in Naples.
First of all, it’s only a 63-minute journey on the high-speed Frecciarossa from Rome to Naples. The train is super fast. The Italians love their high-speed train links. They’re really good at this stuff! After a particularly dreadful on-train coffee served by a particularly disinterested on-train steward (the Italians are really good at this stuff too), we had arrived in Naples. My mate had organized a taxi (booked) from the station and so far, so good. We safely got to our hotel on a nice stretch of the promenade that sits opposite the island of Capri. In between, there were the usual underground excavations for a project that would never be finished, but no matter, we were here. The trip had been entirely uneventful, no muggings, no hassles and now with the light of the early evening, we decided to go for a walking tour.
Here’s the thing about Naples – it’s handy to know your way around, there are lots of hills, it’s a chaotic, and there are lots of different areas with very different characteristics. The first stop was the Palazzo Mannajuolo which holds an incredible staircase; probably the most breathtaking internal staircase in all the world, la scala ellittica. We strolled around the hilly Chiaia and stopped at an old-world candy store in San Ferdinando. We came across a beautiful piazza with the pantheon-like structure of the church of San Ferdinando. The piazza here is open and full of light with Vesuvius in the background. The opera house, Teatro di San Carlo, was showing La Traviata. There is a spectacular galleria, the Galleria Umberto I, close by as well. It houses thousands of panes of glass sitting in a cross formation with a whole series of panels of Jewish stars that form part of the glass decoration. The history of Naples is more or less the entire history of the our ancient civilization. One thing’s for sure, it makes Rome look like a young lad.
The light was dropping so we wandered back to the harbor to prepare for dinner near the Castle Nuovo (not very nuovo actually). That is where I had the most incredible spaghetti alle vongole I had ever eaten. So, this was Naples and we had only been there a few hours. More to come. Wow.