Hannah Drake

Travel

Exploring Pompeii

TravelHannah DrakeComment

The first time I ever heard about Pompeii, I was in middle school and my older brother wanted to teach me Latin. I had an assignment to write a short “essay” about the destruction of Pompeii and if you’ve ever learned a new language, you know how basic those first writing assignments can be. Still, I remember so vividly sitting at the computer at our old house researching what happened to the city in 79AD. These days, I only know two words in Latin—mother and father—except for a few phrases I picked up working in my dad’s law office, but the fascination with Pompeii lives on. So with the proximity to Naples and the Amalfi Coast, there was no question we were going during our honeymoon. It was a must!

We decided it would make the most sense if we went the day we drove from Naples to the Amalfi Coast because it’s on the way. We had done some research before we left England, but discovered that we didn’t really need to pre-book anything. That day, we were able to find reasonable parking right next to the secondary entrance (near the amphitheatre) and the line to buy tickets was less than 10 minutes. Tickets, by the way, were €13 for the day.

So here’s what you need to know:

THE HISTORY

I wish I still had my Latin essay, but it’s probably buried in the depths of a computer’s hard drive that likely doesn’t exist anymore. There’s so much to know about Pompeii — it had a rich history before the volcanic eruption — but I’ll just stick to some main bullet points. Literally.

  • The first settlements on the site date back to the 8th century BC when the Oscans founded five villages in the area.

  • In the 3rd century BC, the area was introduced to the Roman customs and traditions and the first Roman army entered the Campanian plain in the Roman war against the Latins.

  • In 89 AD, it became a Roman colony and played an important role in the passages of goods to Rome. Due to the region’s agricultural fertility, Pompeii and a number of other towns has been established at the base of Mount Vesuvius by the 1st century AD.

  • The citizens of Pompeii were used to minor earthquakes. Pliny the Younger wrote that earth tremors "were not particularly alarming because they are frequent in Campania".

  • On 5 February 62 AD, a severe earthquake did considerable damage around the bay, and particularly to Pompeii. It is thought that the earthquake would have registered between 5 and 6 on the Richter magnitude scale. The same day, there were to be two sacrifices in Pompeii in honour of the anniversary of Augustus being named “Father of Nation” and also a feast to honour the guardian spirits of the city. Chaos followed the earthquake and fires caused by broken oil lamps added to the panic. The cities of Herculaneum and Nuceria, located nearby, were also affected. Temples, houses, bridges, and roads were destroyed. In fact, it’s thought that almost all buildings in the city were affected to some degree. In the days that followed, anarchy ruled the city—theft and starvation plagued the survivors.

  • Although it is unknown how many, a considerable number of citizens moved to other cities within the Roman Empire. Between the earthquake in 62 and the eruption in 79, some rebuilding was done by those who remained in Pompeii, but some of the damage had still not been repaired at the time of the eruption.

  • Current researchers have expressed concerns about structures that were being restored at the time of the eruption in 79, presumably still damaged from the earthquake in 62. It’s thought that the structures were still being repaired 17 years after the earthquake was due to the increasing frequency that lead up to the eruption that ultimately buried the city. 

  • The exact date of the eruption in 79 has been disputed due to conflicting accounts and what has been uncovered in the city, including crops typical for the autumn, heavier clothing the victims were wearing, sealed wine (which would have been done at the end of October), and coins that could not have been minted before September. It had long been thought that the eruption was an August event based on one version of Pliny the Younger’s letter but another version gives a date of the eruption as late as 23 November. A later date is consistent with a charcoal inscription at the site, discovered in 2018, which includes the date of 17 October and which must have been recently written.

  • It was previously believed that most victims died of suffocation due to the ash in the air, however it’s now believed that in Pompeii and the surrounding cities, heat was the main cause of death. The results of a study published in 2010, show that exposure to at least 250 °C (482 °F) hot surges (known as pyroclastic flows) at a distance of 6 miles from the vent was sufficient to cause instant death, even if people were sheltered within buildings.

  • The city of Pompeii and its citizens were covered in up to 12 different layers of tephra, totalling 82 feet deep, which rained down on the city for six hours.

  • Pliny the Younger provided a first-hand account of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius from his position across the Bay of Naples at Misenum but written 25 years after the event. His uncle, Pliny the Elder, with whom he had a close relationship, died while attempting to rescue stranded victims. As admiral of the fleet, Pliny the Elder had ordered the ships of the Imperial Navy stationed at Misenum to cross the bay to assist evacuation attempts. Volcanologists have recognised the importance of Pliny the Younger's account of the eruption by calling similar events "Plinian".

  • In the centuries that followed, the city was forgotten. In 1592, digging an underground channel to divert the river Sarno led to the discovery of ancient walls covered with frescos and inscriptions. The architect Domenico Fontana was called in and he unearthed a few more frescoes, then covered them over again. Nothing more came of the discovery. Herculaneum was properly rediscovered in 1738 by workmen digging for the foundations of a summer palace for the King of Naples, Charles of Bourbon. The Spanish military engineer Rocque Joaquin de Alcubierre then undertook excavations to find further remains, discovering Pompeii a decade later, in 1748. Charles of Bourbon took great interest in the findings, even after becoming King of Spain, because he felt the display of antiquities reinforced the political and cultural prestige of Naples.

  • After excavations were taken over by Giuseppe Fiorelli, voids in the ash layer were found that contained human remains. He devised the technique of injecting the voids with plaster to recreate the victims of the volcano. The technique is still used today, but with clear resin, which is more durable and doesn’t destroy the bones, allowing for further analysis.

  • The discovery of erotic art in Pompeii and Herculaneum left the archaeologists with a dilemma between the open sexuality in ancient Rome and the more conservative Counter-Reformation Europe. An unknown number of discoveries were hidden away again due to their sexual nature.

  • Many artefacts from the buried cities have been and are still preserved in the Naples National Archaeological Museum. In 1819, when King Francis visited the Pompeii exhibition there with his wife and daughter, he was so embarrassed by the erotic artwork that he decided to have it locked away in a so-called "secret cabinet", a gallery within the museum accessible only to "people of mature age and respected morals". Re-opened, closed, re-opened again and then closed again for nearly 100 years, the Naples "Secret Museum" was briefly made accessible again at the end of the 1960s and was finally re-opened for viewing in 2000. Minors are still allowed entry only in the presence of a guardian or with written permission.

WHAT TO BRING

Your day at Pompeii isn’t going to be a usual day of tourism. Yes, you’ll go back in time and explore an ancient city frozen in time. But it’s just that. Frozen in time. Even though it’s a “park”, don’t expect another spot over run with tourism. The emphasis is on the archaeology part of the archaeological park. Inside Pompeii, there are no shops, restaurants, cafes, or anything. They have committed to preserving the history of Pompeii and that means not modernising anything inside the city gates.

That said, make sure you come prepared. Bring a water bottle—maybe even two. There are water fountains on the main road where you can refill your bottles, but that’s a ways from the entrance and plenty to see before you get back there. Bring sunscreen because you will be out in the sun all day. There is some shade, but not much, especially when you get back toward the heart of the city. Many of the buildings don’t have roofs and most of the trees are near the entrances. So while you’re at it, you might want to bring a hat.

If you plan on being in the park over a meal, bring something to snack on. Like I said, you’re not going to find any restaurants or cafes to stop for a quick bite inside the city ruins, so you’ll have to snack on the go. Just please make sure you take your trash with you. Don’t be that guy littering in a 2,000 year old city. Or ever, really.

Take everything in an MUZMM backpack, perfect for long travel or shorter day trips. You can get 20% off a backpack with the code HANNAH20.

WHAT TO SEE

You can imagine there is A LOT to see, considering it’s an entire city that was buried and rediscovered. When you’re wandering around, it will seriously blow your mind at how well the city has been rediscovered and preserved. And after already centuries of work, there is still more to be discovered.

There are a few things you cannot miss:

  • The Amphitheater

  • The Thermal Baths

  • The Forum

  • The Temple of Jupiter

  • The Temple of Apollo

  • The House of the Faun

  • The Cave Canem Mosaic

  • The Garden of Fugitives

  • The House of Vettii

  • The House of the Tragic Poet

HOW MUCH TIME YOU SHOULD SPEND

Of course it all depends on how thorough you want to be, how much time you want to spend looking at everything, how slowly you make your way through the park. I told my mom she could have easily spent a day or two there. But at the bare minimum, everyone should plan on spending at least three hours in the park to see all the important things.

OTHER TIPS

Start at the back and work your way back toward the entrance. Truth be told, seeing Pompeii is exhausting. You don’t have enough shade and I promise you didn’t bring enough water. It’s going to wipe you out. Of course there are interesting things all over the archaeological park, but some of the coolest stuff is toward the back, where the town centre was. We made the mistake of taking a lot of time to see the houses and so we were totally wiped out by the time we made it to the hotbed of their city and culture. We powered through, but we definitely could have spent more time seeing the temples, public baths, and everything else back there.

Get an audio guide and the app. We totally fell victim to the tourist shop outside the entrance selling audio guides. We ended up getting two for €15 but we easily could have gotten away with one. The information at every location is short enough that we could have just passed it back and forth and not lost any time. It was beneficial to know what exactly we were looking at and, even though it wasn’t the most comprehensive audio tour I’ve ever heard, it did point out some things I would have otherwise missed and provided some information on the history of the building, including what it was originally used as and the process of its rediscovery. There are also a few different apps you can use to guide you through the park. I recommend downloading whichever one you want before you get there because I didn’t have the service to download it. Just be prepared to pay for the download. The official app, I believe called Discover Pompeii, will show you recreations of what they think the ruins looked like before the eruption.

HERCULANEUM

In the same eruption that buried Pompeii, Herculaneum was also buried. Because of the differing locations, the eruption effected the cities differently. For example, the deep pyroclastic material which covered it preserved wooden and other organic-based objects such as roofs, beds, stairways, cupboards doors, food, scrolls, and around 300 skeletons. Herculaneum is almost more complete in its preservation, but less of the ancient city has been excavated since the modern town of Ercolano is built on top of it. However, when you’re there you’ll see more shade, fewer people, better frescoes, and more detail. You’ll even walk on better roads!

Both Pompeii and Herculaneum are deteriorating due to exposure to the elements and increased tourism, but especially Pompeii (2.5 visitors annually!). Visiting Herculaneum takes some of the pressure off Pompeii and will help both cities last longer. They’re both UNESCO World Heritage Sites, but both run the risk of becoming endangered.

It’s €11 to visit Herculaneum, or you can get a €20 ticket to visit both.

WHERE WE ATE

After we explored the ruins of the ancient city, we found a pizza place right outside the exit in modern day Pompei. They were advertising a deal of a pizza and a drink for €5 and you just can’t beat that! The place is called Le Delizie and it was so good we went back the day we visited Mount Vesuvius. (It’s the only restaurant we went to twice while in Italy.)

After we went to Mount Vesuvius, we went to Pasticceria De Vivo for gelato. We tasted a few different flavours before both settling on the coconut and, you guys, this was the BEST gelato we had in all of Italy. Save it for after you go through Pompeii or hike Vesuivus for the most refreshing treat of your life.

WHAT TO WEAR TO POMPEII

I decided to include this section for any ladies planning a trip to Italy in the late summer or early autumn. Pompeii, however, is a different beast altogether. Anything you read about visiting will tell you there’s basically no shade in the ruins and that’s not an exaggeration. You will get so hot and sweaty and sticky, so you definitely want to wear something light and breathable. The roads are stone—not cobble stone, just stone—and very uneven. I wore my Birkenstocks, but I wish I had worn my Allbrids instead. The arch of my left foot was killing me by the time we left.

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Capri Travel Guide

TravelHannah DrakeComment

When we first started planning, we thought about spending an evening on Capri, but I am so glad we didn’t. It would have been exhausting to lug our bags to the island and then to the hotel (or you can pay someone to drive them up from the hotel for something like €20). The ferry takes you to the marina, obviously, but the island is quite hilly, so it’s a hike to get just about anywhere. Also, Capri was one of the most expensive places we visited, including on the Amalfi Coast and it receives up to 15,000 tourists a day in the height of summer. (The island is at risk of sinking because of the volume of people who visit every year, which has caused the mayor to ask people to spend at least one night there if they visit to take pressure off Capri Town, just off Marina Grande where you disembark.)

We took the ferry from Naples to Marina Grande, which was about €80 total for both of us round trip. Even though we booked it online in advance, we still had to go to the ticket office to turn our email confirmation into actual tickets. The inside of the ferry looked almost like an airplane with rows of seats. It was unlike any ferry I’ve ever been on!

EXPLORE THE BLUE GROTTO

Okay, I have some thoughts on this. Seeing the Blue Grotto was awesome. The water was electric blue. It felt magical! But I wouldn’t recommend doing it the way we did it.

The Blue Grotto, or Grotta Azzurra, is a cave 60 metres long and 25 metres wide. The cave mouth is two metres wide and roughly one metre high, so entrance into the grotto can only be achieved when tides are low and the sea is calm. During Roman times, the grotto was used as the personal swimming hole of Emperor Tiberius as well as a marine temple. During Tiberius' reign, he moved the Roman capital to the island of Capri (in 27AD) and decorated the grotto with several statues as well as resting areas around the edge of the cave. Three statues of the Roman sea gods Neptune and Triton were recovered from the floor of the grotto in 1964 and are now on display at a museum in Anacapri. Seven bases of statues were also recovered from the grotto floor in 2009. This suggests that there are at least four more statues lying on the cave's bottom. The cave was described by the Roman historian Pliny the Elder (more on him tomorrow) as being populated with Triton "playing on a shell". The now missing arms on the recovered Triton statue – usually depicted with a conch shell, suggest that the statues recovered in 1964 are the same statues Pliny the Elder saw in the 1st century AD. At the back of the main cave of the Blue Grotto, three connecting passageways lead to the Sala dei Nomi, or "Room of Names", named for the graffiti signatures left by visitors over the centuries. Two more passages lead deeper into the cliffs on the side of island. It was thought that these passages were ancient stairways that led to Emperor Tiberius' palace. However, the passages are natural passages that narrow and then end further along.

The grotto is accessible by boat or you can walk down to the entrance from the top of the cliff. (Just remember you have to hike back up the stairs.) We opted for a boat from Marina Grande. We bought tickets as soon as we got off the ferry and killed time until our boat by getting a drink and our first gelato of the trip. The boat ride was short, as it’s just along the coast from the marina, but the day was beautiful. Once we were at the entrance, we came to a bit of a boat traffic jam. There were dozens of boats floating around the entrance waiting to go into the cave. Some were private boats, some were tourist boats like ours, some were even bigger. We waited about an hour to go in. (Rumour has it there are shorter wait times in the morning before the private boats and day visitors come in.)

Men with rowboats would approach the bigger boats and up to four people could get into each rowboat. (You make the switch between boats over the water, just so you know.) You then pay the cash-only entrance fee and the boat tax, totalling €14 per person, and lie down in the boat to go through the narrow entrance. Afterwards, the men take you to your boat and expect a tip. (They recommend €10 per person, but c’mon.)

You’re inside the cave for probably five minutes, along with a handful of other boats, but it’s truly breathtaking. I am really glad we saw it, but there was probably a smarter way to do it…

TAKE A BOAT TOUR AROUND THE ISLAND

Like I mentioned, we did a short boat trip, costing €15 per person just to the Blue Grotto, meaning we paid €56 plus I think €2 in a tip for both of us to see the grotto for five minutes after waiting on the ocean for an hour. Not the best €58 we’ve ever spent.

Instead, I would recommend doing a full tour of the island, which I believe is €30 per person (or thereabout) from Marina Grande. You go all the way around the island and see so much more, like The Statue of the Scugnizzo, The Grotta del Corallo, The Grotta Bianca, The Natural Arch, Villa Malaparte, The Faraglioni, The Bay of Marina Piccola, The Grotta Verde, The Lighthouse at Punta Carena, The Blue Grotto (Grotta Azzurra). You’re definitely going to get more bang for your buck. You’ll still pay €14 per person at the entrance of the cave and you’ll still have to wait your boat’s turn to go in, but you’ll take in more of the island and hopefully you won’t feel like you fell into a tourist trap.

TAKE THE MONTE SOLARO CHAIRLIFT

The only other thing on our can’t-miss list on Capri was to do the chairlift. The island of Capri is made up of the town of Capri and the neighbouring town of Anacapri, high in the hills. Because it was a bit of a hike to the Anacapri, we opted to take the bus for €2 per person each way instead. It was a crazy ride, but the views were to die for!

The bus dropped us off right at the bottom of the chair lift, so we didn’t have to go very far. For a round trip, it’s €11 (or one way for €8) and it only takes about 13 minutes. However, the ride is not for the faint of heart. If you’re afraid of heights, definitely take the long way up—hike it. Still, it was absolutely worth it. The ride itself is really quiet and peaceful. You’re sat on a single seat chair dangling above the ground, slowly riding up the back side of the island. You can see the town of Anacapri below you and the sea stretches out to the horizon. It’s amazing!

At the top, it’s even better. You have the best vantage point on the island. You don’t have to go very far to get incredible views of Capri on the other part of the island and even the tip of mainland Italy. There’s a little bar at the top where you can get a drink or some ice cream. We kicked back for a couple of games of Hanabi with a view. It was a great way to relax. My friend had recommended watching the sunset from the top, but the lift closed early and we had to be sure to catch it back down before it closed. On the way down, we only passed a handful of people going up, the last two I saw again the next day in Pompeii. (I remembered because one of them had bubblegum pink hair and the other had bright red.)

RELAX ON THE BEACH

At the end of the day, we kicked back on the rocky beach and watched the waves roll in. I read a little of my book (Crazy Rich Asians) and Luke stacked some rocks. It wasn’t the most comfortable beach, but the noise the water made when the tide went out over the rocks was so cool! We started to watch the sunset over the water until it was time to catch our ferry back.

GET OUT OF TOWN

Like I mentioned above, the mayor of Capri wants tourists to explore more of the island instead of just staying around the main town of Capri and the Marina Grande. Because we were only there for a short time and wanted to make sure we did the Blue Grotto and the chairlift, we didn’t go outside the town. There’s more to the island than just the expensive shops and restaurants and it sounds like it’s worth seeing!

WHERE WE ATE

We got drinks and gelato before our boat tour at Bar Grotta Azzurra. It’s just off the Marina Grande so it was quite busy, but the outdoor seating was covered and there was free wifi. Luke ordered a beer, I ordered an Aperol Spritz (€12!), and we split a bottle of still water. They had an gelato cart around the corner where we got our first gelato of the trip! Luke had mint chocolate chip and I had pistachio. Luke ranked this gelato 6 out of 7. I ranked this gelato 5 out of 7.

We had lunch, again just off the marina, at Lo Smeraldo. I had attempted to do some research about good seafood on the island while we were on the ferry and recognised the name when we came off our ferry. The restaurant was gorgeous and in a great spot, but it was extremely pricey and was the most expensive meal we had on the trip.

We split a pistachio gelato from outside Capri Palace at the bottom of the chairlift, but we forgot to rank it!

Truthfully, we didn’t explore much of the island and now that I’ve seen what the mayor has asked of tourists, I do feel bad for not venturing outside the main tourist areas. I know Capri has more to offer, but it’s also a very expensive place. Our day on the island was easily the most expensive day the whole trip!

I do recommend visiting Capri if you’re able, but I think the best way to do it is with a boat tour of more of the Amalfi Coast. On our boat tour day, we went by the island between Sorrento and Positano. There were other tours that included a few hours on Capri, as well as a stop at the Blue Grotto, which would have been more than enough time to ride the chairlift and see the island.

WHAT TO WEAR ON CAPRI

I decided to include this section for any ladies planning a trip to Italy in the late summer or early autumn. You probably would wear something different on an island than you would exploring a city, but keep in mind that Capri isn’t some tropical island with crystal clear waters and white sandy beaches. Capri has hills and they will kick your butt.

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Is Naples Worth Visiting?

TravelHannah DrakeComment

When we started planning our trip to Italy, knowing we would be flying into Naples, we weren’t quite sure how much time to spend in Naples. Originally, we had only planned to spend one night there, spend a night on Capri, and then go to the Amalfi Coast. Eventually we decided to just to a day trip to Capri and leave our luggage at the hotel. Thank goodness! But suddenly we had two days in Naples to fill. I had asked for recommendations for all the places we were going on Instagram and got exactly ZERO recommendations for Naples. When I spoke to a friend who had recently travelled through Europe, she said she skipped Naples because she hadn’t heard great things. It was a little off-putting and ultimately why we decided to do a day trip to Capri from Naples rather than the Amalfi Coast, but there were still things we were looking forward to visiting in Naples.

So the question of the day remains: Is Naples worth visiting?

THE PROS

P I Z Z A! All. Of. The. Pizza. Neapolitans know what they are doing with pizza. Some people believe that Neapolitans invented the Margherita pizza in June of 1889 in honour of the Queen of Italy, Margherita of Savoy, and the Italian unification. (The pizza is the colours of Italy!) However, it seems that style of pizza was around possibly as early as 1796. Honestly, it was kind of a bummer that we went to Naples first because no other pizza on our trip compared to our first meal in Italy. As soon as we were checked into our hotel, we set out to go to L'Antica Pizzeria Da Michele, as seen in Eat, Pray, Love, and apparently rated the best pizza in Naples. (I’m not sure who by, but a couple we met at the pizzeria told us they had done the top five pizzas in Naples and this was #1. We never heard how it compared because they were rushing to a flight to Sicily and took their pizzas to go.) It’s an absolute madhouse and it’s cash only, but it’s 100% worth it. When we arrived, there was a massive crowd outside of the pizzeria and we had no idea what was happening. A few moments later, that couple showed up behind us asking us what to do. I decided to go in to find out and the guy followed me in. An old man working the door handed me a square of yellow paper with the number 60 on it and told me they had just called number 9. FIFTY ONE NUMBERS AWAY! I asked him if that was to dine in or do take away and he said we could order take away at the till and get in the four person line. Um, duh! That explains why the street down to the pizzeria was line with people eating pizza on the sidewalk. We opted for that, so I waited in the hot pizzeria with the guy, who turned out to be from Denmark, while Luke waited outside with his girlfriend or wife. It took a while to get our pizzas since they had to change the wood out, but otherwise it probably would have been about a 10 minute wait. We got to talking with the guys in front of us too, who were from Brazil and South Africa and working on a cruise ship that was at port for the day. The brightly lit pizzeria was filled with the sound of diners enjoying their lunch and company and about a dozen sweaty Italian guys working the pizza oven and the tables. The take away line was dead in the middle of the front room about six inches from tables on one side and about two feet away from the flaming pizza oven. It was magical. When our pizzas came up, I passed them off to the Danish guy so they could get to the airport for their flight that was in 40 minutes and waited another couple of minutes for ours. I met Luke outside with two pizza boxes and two bottles of Coke and we found a place on some dirty steps to eat, next to the two guys from the cruise ship. (“Come share our table!” they said jokingly.) Our napkins had blown away the second I stepped outside and the Coke bottles weren’t twist off, but oh my gosh, it was the most heavenly meal of my life! The next day, after we had gotten back from Capri, our original plan was to stop by L'Antica Pizzeria Da Michele to share another €5 pizza, but we were both exhausted from our day on the island and it was a 20 minute walk from the port to the pizzeria and then another 20 minutes back to our hotel. In the end, we popped into another pizzeria we passed on the way back to the hotel and took it back to share in bed. It was amazing, but still not as good as that first one. And thus ends my love letter to Neapolitan pizza.

The views of the Bay of Naples is absolutely worth checking out. Our first night there, we hiked—and I do mean hiked—the streets to Castel Sant'Elmo. It was a gruelling walk, but it paid off in the end. The streets were much quieter than the bustling city below, but I cannot imagine having to do that walk every day. The whole way was lined with residential buildings! Regardless of the hard work required, it was a fantastic place to see the sunset over the city. From the top, you can see the whole of the Bay of Naples, including Mount Vesuvius, and it’s breathtaking. We didn’t make it in time to go into Castel Sant'Elmo, but the couple from the pizzeria earlier that day recommended it. Since we missed the entrance time, we instead wandered around (read: got lost in) the streets at the top. Like the climb up, it was much quieter, but absolutely stunning.

Our hotel recommended quite a few things to us, including some notable churches (she said the city has about 500) and museums (like The National Archaeological Museum of Naples), but we didn’t have time to visit any of them. Naples was seemingly cheaper than Rome. It had public transportation that got us where we wanted to go easily enough. And it was close in proximity to the other things we wanted to do at the beginning of our trip.

THE CONS

Naples is BUSY. It’s chaotic—or energetic, if you want to put it softly—the traffic is basically madness, and it’s kind of hard to find stuff. The streets are narrow, especially the side streets, lined with tall buildings, which made for great protection from the sun, but also felt a little claustrophobic. Walking down the side streets, we never had any idea if a car or a scooter would come down. It felt very like a cliche Italian city, with brightly coloured buildings that are a bit too close together with the washing hanging out to dry on the second level and people enjoying a coffee or lunch on the street below. It’s hard to describe exactly, but it just felt overwhelming in a way that Rome didn’t.

THE CONCLUSION

Like I mentioned, we didn’t spend a ton of time in Naples, so I don’t have much to offer about the city. Our first tour guide in Rome said she loves the energy of Naples, but people usually love it or hate it. There’s no such thing as being neutral about Naples. Truthfully, I didn’t love Naples. While we were in Italy, Luke and I agreed that we probably wouldn’t ever got back to Naples, but now that I’m writing this post, I’m dreaming about that pizza again. I’m glad we visited, and I really wish we had seen The National Archaeological Museum of Naples because of it’s proximity to Pompeii and the number of artefacts they have there. (They have a “Secret Cabinet” that houses some of the more explicit and erotic items found in the excavations of Pompeii and Herculaneum!) People say that Naples doesn’t feel safe, but you can find people who say that about pretty much every where, can’t you? Simply put, Naples isn’t really my speed, but it might be yours.

WHERE WE ATE

Of course I mentioned we ate at L'Antica Pizzeria Da Michele for our first meal in Italy. We agreed this was the best pizza of the trip and is well worth the wait. (Just get take away if you don’t want to wait for a table.)

We had dinner at Biancomangiare near our hotel that night. We ordered a bottle of wine, an antipasti platter, and cacio e pepe spaghettone to share. The restaurant was so cute; it was exactly what I imagined a little Italian place tucked away on a side street would be like! It was also the first of many times when we got to an empty restaurant and it filled up by the time our food came.

Both mornings in Naples, we ate breakfast at our hotel Relais Della Porta. I would definitely recommend the hotel, but don’t expect an all American continental breakfast. They had breads, pastries, different meats, hard boiled eggs, some different fruit (dried or preserved), and some cereal and porridge options. It was enough to tide us over and we usually ate a light breakfast in Italy anyway. Gotta save room for pizza and pasta!

Our last night in Naples, we got a pizza to go from a place called Claudio’s Pizzeria (I think). It was still a good pizza, but didn’t compare to the day before. We only chose the place because we passed it on our way back from the port to the hotel.

Later, we were back in Naples to catch the train to Rome and we both got coconut gelato from inside the station at a place called Eccellenze della Costiera, which I believe is a chain. Luke ranked it 4 out of 7, while I ranked it 6 out of 7. (Stay tuned for more gelato rankings!)

WHAT TO WEAR IN NAPLES

I decided to include this section for any ladies planning a trip to Italy in the late summer or early autumn. I was nervous about what to pack for Italy in way I don’t think I have been in the past. I asked my friend Laura, a native of Italy, what to pack and she gave me some helpful tips.

PIN FOR LATER!

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