Travel Diaries

That’s Amore

I’ve recently come back from a holiday in Naples, Campania in Italy, and boy do I already miss it. Rarely does the everyday life seem so prosaic and drab as when you’ve just returned from a holiday. Meanwhile the life of a tourist is more like poetry.

On the first day we started off with a breakfast outside of a lovely small bakery. The weather was lovely and the sky clear, a heavenly atmosphere that followed us to the end of our stay.

Basilica di San paolo Maggiore on Piazza de San Gaetano. Not to be flippant, but we also bought some babas on this piazza!

On the morning of the first day we still hadn’t acquired a tourist guide (we always buy a guide wherever we go, hopefully not an expensive one), so we were just strolling around the city like the sheep without a shepherd, not to be dramatic. But it’s okay, because Naples is a lovely city to stroll around in and we were mostly around the city centre.

This is weird and I love it!

On that day we had lunch in a nice pizzeria close to the sea. We lunched in there twice during our trip and I think it has to be my favorite of all the places where we ate. I would love to recommend it, but I hadn’t looked up the name and can’t seem to find it online. Well, if you ever find yourself there, it’s near the sea, it has pictures of Sophia Loren on the walls (like, admittedly, almost every other restaurant in Naples), and there’s also a Japanese resturant opposite it. I guess I’m not being very helpful after all… sorry.

Duomo di Napoli or the Naples Cathedral

Another thing Naples has a reputation for are the colorful and vivid graffiti on the walls. I don’t know what most of them represent, but I loved them nevertheless.

Spanish Quarters

One of the best places to take a stroll in is Naples is definitely by the sea. It’s always lively and filled mostly with couples, boys and boys and girls and girls too, strolling the promenade. It’s lovely.

By the sea

On the next day we headed to Pompeii and spent the majority of the day there. We intended to go to Vesuvius on the same day but instead decided it’d be less rushed if we left it for the next day, and that was a good idea. The funny thing is that we hopped off our train to Vesuvius one station too early (#sillytouristlife), so we had to walk to the next bus station which was around 2 kilometres away. After hopping off the train we asked some very nice German tourists for help, but they didn’t know any more than us. Still, they were very friendly, so thanks to them and also thanks to the woman in the tobacco shop who advised us to not take the taxi (I imagine it’d be very expensive, that’s why!) and instead just walk to the bus station. When we finally arrived to Vesuvius – and here goes another anecdote – it turned out that we hadn’t informed ourselves that you have to buy tickets for the volcano online in advance, you can’t buy them there. It took us a while to actually buy the tickets since the internet connection is very weak there, but at the end we did. After a sweaty and a very exhausting climb, we finally managed to conquer Vesuvius, as my mother said.

The only picture I have from Vesuvius

We decided to spend the next day in a more relaxed manner and wander a bit more around Naples, since we spent the previous two days out of the city.

We started off in Piazza Dante, sipping aperol spritz and watching the passers-by and families with kids playing on the sqaure. I loved Piazza Dante; I remember it for its lively atmosphere and a bunch of kids kicking balls and being wild in the open air.

Piazza Dante

On this day we also got acquainted with the Spanish Quarters (Quartieri Spagnoli) which, base on what we have heard, has a reputation for being a less safe area in Naples. Luckily we did not have any unpleasant experiences. On the other hand, in this area you can also find many lively, friendly looking restaurants where guests are sitting and eating outside. It’s funny, the streets are so narrow that you’re practically peeking in people’s plates. Speaking of very narrow streets: this is such a stereotypically Italian thing, but I swear I had never seen so many vespas in any Italian city I’ve been to. The locals seemed completely unfazed by vespas speeding along the road one after another. I imagine you get used to it after living in the city for a while, but I was personally always fearing I’d get hit by a vehicle! If you are a foreigner wishing to visit Naples though, don’t let this scare you away! I’d just recommend being careful and always looking left and right before crossing the street. Seriously.

Piazza del Plebiscito

I don’t think I have talked about the bakeries where we used to have breakfast every morning. Well, we were treated to an authentic tourist experience as there were only locals eating and sipping coffee around us. Well, the fact that we were the only tourists might have lead to some slight misunderstandigs in language, but fear not, the pastries were very nice, and coffee was very good too. 😉 We practically only ate croissants and zeppole (sort of a donut filled with cream and often with a cherry on top) for breakfast, and pasta and pizza for lunch and dinner. And we ate some pretty darn good pizza too! Some of the city’s more famous pizzerias we were honoured to visit include Sorbillo and L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele. Even Julia Roberts visited the latter one for her movie Eay, Pray, Love. I’m not kidding. Also, try the pizza fritta (fried pizza) too! You won’t regret it. It’s different than your usual Italian pizza bit it’s everywhere in Naples and it’s delicious.

On the following day we decided to visit the nearby city of Salerno (initially we planned to visit Sorrento, but for some reason there were no tickets for Sundays). Anyway, Salerno was very nice too.

My favorite memories from our one-day-trip to Salerno include walking along the seaside (which I’ve read is described as one of the cheeriest and liveliest seaside promenades in Italy), and eating seafood spaghetti in a small friendly restaurant filled with Italian families spending a relaxed Sunday outside. We also witnessed a sort of an open-air theatre puppet play for kids, walked to the city’s cathedral (it took us an embarrassingly long time to find it and we almost got lost a few times, silly tourists) and ate ice cream, which is also when a silly anecdote in relation to a language misunderstanding took place.

This is probably the best picture I took on this trip. I’m not bragging when I say that it looks postcard-worthy to me, since all credits go to the beautiful Salerno’s seaside (and to whoever parked a boat there, conveniently). I only took the photo!

On our last day in Naples we decided to take a metro to Vomero, a quarter which is known as a more elegant part of the city. We had a coffee there and did a bit of window-shopping, then proceeded to almost get lost as we were trying to reach the city centre by foot. We had previously booked tickets to climb the Castel Dell’Ovo, (which translates as “Egg Castle”). According to a legend, the famed Roman poet Virgil put a magical egg in te foundations of the castle, and the egg remains buried there with the poet’s bones. According to the belief, if the egg had been broken it would have resulted in a series of disastrous events for the city of Naples.

Views from the castle.

Last but not least, I want to introduce you to this very cute Italian song from the 1950s (well, if you dig a bit deeper into the meaning the lyrics might not be so cute, but on the first sight it’s a charming love song with a cheerful melody). The song was written in the Neapolitan dialect (which is quite different from standard Italian, from what I have heard), and is sung by the famous singer Domenico Modugno. I used to be obsessed with this song when I first heard it a few years ago, and is a song I will always associate with Naples. Now during our trip I heard it played on the radio twice, so I assume the locals are fond of the song as well. Have a listen for yourself:

These “travel diaries” are quite messy, I presume. It took me way too long to get them together because I was lazy, and I think it shows. Still, I have to admit that the main reason I decided to write this down is because I wanted to capture as much of these memories as I could while they are still fresh and before I could forget, so that I can come back after a while and relive these moments. That’s the truth of it. Still, I hope that anyone who stumbles upon this can get something out of it, too! And with this I leave you. 🙂

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