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Naples - fountain - s.k.

Naples - street scene - s.k. photo

Naples - fish sale - s.k. photo

There is no truth to the common perception of Naples as swimming in trash – there are recycling bins EVERYWHERE, and families sort trash into four separate bins at home. They take environmentally conscious waste disposal much more seriously here than back home. Of course, I did see some dirty, littered places, but only occasionally. The fact is, though, they only resolved the problem a couple of years ago – before that there really were piles of trash in the streets of downtown Naples.

Facts straight from Naples:

If Neapolitans stop to talk on the street, they’re going to do it loudly, with a lot of passionate gestures. Walking past them is like passing a theatrical performance.

The man sits on the front of the moped, the woman behind. She has her phone pressed to her ear with one hand, the other gesticulating wildly, and she holds on to the bike only with her thighs. Neither wears a helmet.

The young women of Naples are very pretty, while the men are unbelievably handsome.
Neapolitans dress well. And I mean EVERYONE. Except maybe teenage boys.

I saw as much visible passion from Neapolitan women in an hour as I would in a month at home…

Italian girls want to get married at 20. And they do. There’s no divorce afterwards, even if the marriage is a disaster

They sell fabulous pastries in coffee bars – it’s impossible not to order one, or at least it is for us. Locals seem to only ever order an espresso

Naples is cheap from a tourist perspective. Eating out: a pizza is €4-6. A cappuccino is €1.50, or €2.50 with a pastry. A five-course dinner costs €32. A metro ticket is €1.30, and you can use it on any transport for ninety minutes. Clothes are also cheaper.

Cars don’t stop at zebra crossings, and standing at one waiting is a waste of time – you’ll be waiting until judgement day. Instead, you need to act decisively, and it doesn’t hurt to make an imperious stop gesture towards the driver as you step out onto the road. Then maybe they’ll stop. Don’t expect it to make any difference if you have a green light and he has a red.
Almost every car has some damage to the bodywork, either around the bumpers or on the side. It’s no surprise – I’ve seen minor collisions EVERY DAY so far.

Honking the horn is just a signal – I’m coming! – it doesn’t signify danger or emergency

Men on the street smile at you if you’re a woman, and if you smile back, they’ll stop to talk to you

NOBODY speaks English, not even in the most touristy shops and cafés. Not even the most basic words and phrases. This doesn’t seem to bother them – you speak to them in English, and they immediately respond with a stream of Italian. At most, they might speak a little slower. If you speak a moderate level of English, EVERYONE will think you’re American. If you happen to be Hungarian or German or Polish, they’ll be deeply shocked by your linguistic abilities

Young Neapolitans don’t want to emigrate. Even if the city has an unemployment rate of 30%. They love living there, and being Neapolitans.

Almost everyone smokes on the street.

 

Practicals

Transport

“If you’ve had enough of walking, €1.50 will buy you 90 minutes on the city’s public transport. A day pass is €4.50, while a weekly (calendar week) pass is €15.80. If you visit many museums and use public transport enough, it might be worth getting the ArteCard for either Naples or all Campania, depending on how far and often you plan to leave the city. (2016)

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"Transport is not straightforward in Naples. Fortunately, the center can be explored on foot, but you always have to watch out for cars or mopeds coming towards you out of nowhere. I think the worst job in Italy has to be an ambulance or fire truck driver. Right in front of us, a fire truck came down a small alleyway that was crowded with pedestrians, and I thought it wouldn’t even fit round the street corner.

The funniest thing, however, was that urban cycling has made it even to Naples, so they’ve painted a couple of bike paths, on which motorists then diligently park their cars. (2017) "

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Total chaos, no one watches out for pedestrians, while buses somehow go somewhere someday. The only traffic signal in general use is the car or moped horn. The most reliable means of transport is the metro, and Piazza Garibaldi marks the city center. There are also good train links to nearby attractions. (Krista)

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“You couldn’t pay me to drive here, but as a pedestrian, you quickly get used to the city’s irregular system, which for some strange reason, seems to run like a well-oiled machine.

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"Naples can be recognized from a long way off thanks to its characteristic odor, which is emitted by the trash lying on the road: every square meter in Naples and the surrounding area has piles of trash by the roadside; I do not know how trash collection is organized, but it seems as though the standard practice locally is to simply chuck things away wherever and whenever they’re no longer useful.

Immediately after arriving in the city, we found ourselves driving in streets so narrow that I don’t even understand how a car bigger than our small car can fit, where laundry hangs from balconies across the street, and plaster crumbles from the buildings. We had strayed in a maze of narrow streets, which turns out in the evening to form one of the corners of the Naples ghetto triangle, an area run by the mafia.

In Rome, it’s the law of the jungle, and driving is an opportunistic struggle for survival. And in Naples? In Naples, the situation is even worse. At intersections, priority goes to the bravest and most unscrupulous, those who can cut off other cars without a word and drive on, while the weaker and more conscientious just have to brake. Everyone takes their chances, seizing every free gap as their recklessness dictates. The meeting of two cars is not governed by anything other than the ongoing fistfight that takes place on the streets of Naples; here it is not the right-hand rule but the right-hook rule that applies.

We go no faster on the broad boulevard than in the narrow streets – this is not our world, and it’s hard to pick up the Neapolitan rhythm. They honk their horns and swerve around, but even northern Italian drivers don’t seem to get anywhere. Somehow, at last, we make it to a secure, controlled high-rise parking lot, because for the car, parking on the street would be risky in the extreme.

Vesuvius is visible almost everywhere, rising with dignified patience, fully aware of its power; it’s impossible to forget.

Naples - typical street scene - n.k. photo

Neaples - The University of Naples Subway Station - n.a. photo

Naples - the motorbikers rule the city

Naples - airport bus

Naples - j.k. photo

Naples - tramvia - n.k. photo

Food

 "Two of my friends just wrote to me from the best pizzeria in the world, in Naples, which reminded me of how fantastic it was ... They wrote that it has become even cheaper since I visited – the double mozzarella is only 5 euros ... In one of Naples' less upmarket districts, close to the train station, there is a simple pizzeria, Da Michelle. The doorway is nondescript, and there’s nothing ostentatious inside either, while the menu is downright rudimentary: two types of pizza are available, margherita and marinara, the former in single or double mozzarella versions, and both in several sizes. And yet, on weekdays at noon, there is always a huge line in front of the place!

Two types of pizza, in a few different sizes, for between €4 and €5.50. That’s the whole menu, and the drinks menu is similarly scanty: Coca Cola, Fanta, Peroni, Nastro Azzurro beer, and mineral water. Not much. (Still, the beer is something ... :)) And the end result: Margherita (tomato, basil, extra virgin olive oil, double mozzarella), and Marinara (tomato, oregano, garlic, extra virgin olive oil). Both pizzas are ridiculously good, with natural flavors, perfect ingredients, but nothing over-fancy: simple fior di latte mozzarella (not even buffala, meaning buffalo!), real puréed tomatoes in the sauce, and a professional pizza oven, is pretty much it. Da Michele has been leading the industry since 1870... "

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"Neapolitans are famous for their love of coffee. As the day begins, they immediately gulp down two or three cups of their lethally strong coffee, generally on an empty stomach. They seize every available opportunity to enjoy “a short one” which always hits the digestive system like a bomb. It’s not the wine of the local region which is its most popular product, but its unique coffee blends. All around the world, attempts are being made to imitate Neapolitan coffee, but virtually no one has to date succeeded, not least because they don’t take into account the real, source of its magic. Is it the water of Naples that sets it apart: Or the blends, which are unique to each individual restaurant? Or the roasting? It’s a question that could be argued over indefinitely.

But how it is possible that this populace, which certainly needs no alcohol to dissolve its inhibitions, succumbs en masse to its passion for caffeine? It is about the basic need of Neapolitans to live their entire lives in a permanent state of excitement on the verge of nervous collapse, dancing on the edge of a razor, in a state of spasmodic tension that destroys the petrified routine of nature. They drink coffee by the liter to give their bodies a kick, and to lift them out of depressive inaction.

I have no idea how the legend of the "lazy Neapolitans" who, like Mexicans, just bake their bellies by the day and don’t care about the passage of time, came into being. At one time, perhaps, they were like this – back when Naples was still a thriving capital. But the Neapolitans I know can only live in noise and constant movement and are never satisfied. "See Naples and die" is the (ambiguous) saying of foreigners. And as the Neapolitans say, "You can see the whole world - but you can only die in Naples."


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“Even at the local pizza restaurant chain (Rossopomodoro) the pizzas are first-class, but that should be last on your list. The main thing is to try as many great places as possible, like Brandi, home of the world’s first margherita, or the legendary Antica Pizzeria Port’Alba, the very upscale Sobrillo, Da Michele, a mecca for pizza lovers, or Dal Presidente, which is also very popular.

Most of the famous pizzerias compete with each other on Via dei Tribunali, but it’s useful to look around anywhere in the Spanish Quarter where it’s easy to get lost at night.

Tip: Neapolitan pizza may not be what you’re used to. Expect a thin dough, thicker than the edges, and with relatively few toppings. The local margherita is a must-try, but the number of possible options can be overwhelming. If you head to a pizzeria, get ready for the queues and the wait, which can get long in the evenings on Via dei Tribunali, especially on Saturdays.” (2016)

Naples - Pizzeria Donna Sofia ai Tribunali - the real pizza - n.c. photo

Naples - Trattoria where the young Sophia Loren supposes to offer a plate of clams - V. J. photo

Naples - popular pizzeria - v.j. photo

Naples - lemon

Shopping

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Naples -market s.k. photo

Naples - Galleria Umberto, a public shopping gallery - v.j. photo

Naples - smiling napolitano - g.a. photo

Naples - via San Gregorio Armeno

Naples - Galleria Umberto I

Naples - butchery - k-t. g. photo

Fun

“I think Via dei Tribunali is the central party district. Many people drink on the street here, and Piazza Bellini is also full of university cafés and bars. It is especially worth looking around on the inner, eastern side of the square, which contains one of the only places I got real Neapolitan coffee (what else…) served straight from a mocha pot!

As per good Italian custom, snacks are always served alongside your drink of choice – I usually opted for an Aperol spritz. I loved that in the evening, 30 meters from our accommodation, we could have a drink on a terrace that is full of life, but still, the atmosphere is so calm and chill. Anyway, it's kind of a grassy place, if you know what I mean. :D Sometimes Naples even felt a little like Amsterdam. (2017)


Naples - figures - p.a. - h. photo

Public safety

,, Tourists in Naples can significantly reduce their safety risks if they know, even at a basic level when and where it is unwise to walk, and what the most important rules are.

Let’s start by saying that parts of Naples should be avoided after dark. The locals themselves are consciously aware of this. The following areas should be avoided after dark: the zone between the main train station and the port, the Quartieri Spagnoli, and the Sanitá. These neighborhoods are all relatively safe during the day. In addition, visiting Sanita is important for tourists because the catacombs are there. We also avoided the Scampia district, which is, in any case, devoid of tourist attractions, because there are many criminals and the drug trade is lively.

In Naples, social inequalities are marked. Fashionable parts of town and poorer, run-down neighborhoods are very close to each other. For example, the above-mentioned, risky Quartieri Spagnoli, which is a poor district, is particularly close to cool shopping streets such as Piazza del Plebiscito, the Riviera di Chaia, and Via Toledo.

Many would say that generalizations about Naples’ poor public safety are excessive and that for a tourist, this city is no more dangerous than Barcelona or Marseille. There are a lot of pickpockets, cutpurses, and thieves, but Rome and Barcelona are not much better in this regard. As for the evening activities, the good news is that the Neapolitans fill the streets late into the night, and places like, for instance, Mergellina or Via Caracciolo are also safe late at night.

It is also worth knowing that the tourist has nothing to fear from the infamous Naples mafia (Camorra). They are not interested in tourists, since prostitution, drug trafficking and the blackmail of local business owners are their “bread and butter.”

Girls and women do not have to worry about sexual assault – this is a view supported by local statistics. At most, thieves start from the fact that it is easier to grab the bag from a woman or girl's shoulder since she is weaker. Female tourists out and about alone are regularly wolf-whistled by local guys, but they are harmless and will leave off if their efforts are met with determined indifference.

Basic rules: Do not walk in dimly lit streets or alleys at night. Do not unpack bags or layout valuables at an outdoor restaurant table. Make sure it is not easy to grab your bag and run off with it. It’s best to leave all your most important valuables in a  safe first thing. Don’t show off with valuable watches, jewelry, etc., and keep an eye on your cell phone too, especially if it’s obviously worth a lot. Don’t carry bags slung over your shoulder, but in front of you, as the local women do. No ostentatiously valuable cameras or video recorders either.

There are many pickpockets around the main train station, and particular care must be taken there. Spend as little time as possible in Piazza Garibaldi, the square in front of the main train station, especially after dark.
Do not get into unmarked black vehicles claiming to be taxis. Do not accept gifts from strangers on the street, since they surely want to get money from you. Motorists ought to be wary of fraudsters trying to involve them in fake traffic accidents.

A visit expects the city to be very dirty, unsafe, and so on. We stayed next to the Archaeological Museum, spending six nights there in total, often out wandering late, and never felt in any danger. The area wasn’t dirty, either.
Not an elegant city, but interesting. "

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“Naples’ ‘brand image’ is appalling, but I don’t understand why. I’ve heard of cases where robberies or attempted robberies of tourists have taken place, but honestly, in which big city is that unknown? Where there is a crowd, you can expect such things, so it doesn’t hurt to pack your belongings carefully, hold onto your bag, pay attention to your personal valuables, etc. But, if you’re sensible, you should pay attention in this way not only in Naples, but also in Budapest, Barcelona, or New York, shouldn’t you? I would like to make it clear that Naples is NOT an extremely dangerous city where you may fall victim to crime at any moment. Not even more dangerous than the rest of Europe (or Italy). And every time someone claims otherwise, I’m always saddened, because I’ve been to few such real and honest places in my life, and this city doesn’t deserve its reputation.” (2018)

Naples - cute pompom - s.r. photo

Naples - police car

Naples - policewomen and the kid with his soccer ball - v.e. photo

Health

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Naples - siesta market stlye - v.j. photo

Others

“Rubbish in Naples is simply tipped out the window, as and when it suits. This means that those from more northern countries should, when visiting Naples, remember to glance up occasionally if they don’t get a nasty surprise. All the same, I’ve heard numerous Italians say that in recent years the situation has improved markedly.” (2017)

Naples - Arcade - Tom's photo

Naples - n.k. photo

Naples - j.k. photo

Naples - j.k. photo

Naples - San Gennaro - street art - v.e. photo

Naples - street art - p.a. -h photo

Background

Naples - square life - s.k. photo

Destination in brief

Population (2020): 960 000 (City area), 2,1 million (Urban area) 

Average net monthly salary (in 2020): 1100 Euro

Climate

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Naples - rain - Tom's photo

History

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Naples - Pizza Margherita was born here a hundred years ago (1889-1989) - n.c. photo

Naples - The cult of Maradona - V.J. photo

Nowadays

The mafia is currently the most real threat in Naples. Although that’s interpreted in different ways. Most big companies will end up moving: it would be stupid to stay in a place where they have to give money to the state and the mafia at the same time, while local patriotism doesn’t pay the bills. The younger generation, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds, do not even see opportunities to slave away in traditional firms, especially since such firms are dwindling; it is much easier to get money from the mafia if you filch the bag of the nearest tourist, and they’ll keep coming anyway because of Pompeii. In Naples, the mafia has become an integral part of life in the same way that debt has in other countries.


Naples - houses - s.k. photo

Naples - street view - s.k.

Naples - street scene - Tom's photo

Naples - Tom's photo

Naples - house occupied by squatters - n.c. photo

People

Local teens

Naples - This shoeshiner has been an emblematic figure of Via Toledo for decades - n.c. photo

Naples - Mamma mia - g.a. photo

Naples - Napolitani - g.a. photo

Naples - locals - n.c. photo

Naples - men working in the market - g.a. photo

Naples - mumble on a fresh sandwich - g.a. photo

Gastronomy

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Attractions

Historic Center - Centro Storico or Via dei Tribunali

“This may not be widely known, but Naples has one of the largest historic city centers in Europe. The very heart of the Centro Storico was founded by the ancient Greeks, and the walls of the then rectangular city with its gates have survived to this day. However, the historic part of the city, which is a World Heritage Site, is larger than this and includes the Spanish Quarter. The name of this district links it to the Spanish garrison which was stationed here. In this part of the city you can really feel the diverse past of Naples, and the cultural influences which mean that the locals are Neapolitans first and Italians second, with strong local self-awareness and a special dialect.”

In the historic part of the city, there is an amazing number of religious monuments, basilicas, churches, ornate columns, or simple shrines, even by Italian standards. You will stumble across these at virtually every corner while walking streets that have been winding the same way for many hundreds of years. This is quite something in itself, but perhaps even more impressive is the hustle and bustle that takes place on these streets. Kids play football next to two shops selling clerical garments, while hungry people line up in front of the best pizzerias, and grandmothers hang out clean laundry overhead.” (2017)

Naples - Basilica of San Francesco di Paola - Piazza del Plebiscito - s.k.

Naples - Castel Nuovo - v.j. photo

Naples - Piazza del Plebiscito

Royal Palace of Caserta

Naples - Royal Palace of Caserta - k-t-. g. photo (2021)

Naples - Royal Palace of Caserta - k.-t.-.g. photo

Naples - Royal Palace of Caserta - k.-t.-. g. photo

Naples - Royal Palace of Caserta - coexistence - k.-t.-. g. photo

Naples - Royal Palace of Caserta - k.-t.-. g. photo

Naples - Royal Palace of Caserta - k.-t.-. g. photo

Palazzo Reale

Naples - Palazzo Reale - k-t-. g. photo

Galleria Umberto

Naples - Galleria Umberto - k-t. g. photo

Naples - Galleria Umberto - k.t. g. photo

Naples - Galleria Umberto - k.-t.. g. photo

Spanish Quarter

“This section runs up the side of Via Toledo on the hill, where 18 streets cross 12 others, forming a nice square grid on the map. This area of almost one square kilometer is extremely densely populated, with about seventeen thousand people living here. It is an extremely poor neighborhood, where the mafia and crime have a large presence, but this is not what will be felt by those who come here. Instead, it’s better to lose yourself in the thick of it, next to scooters zigzagging on meter-wide streets, in an environment where gasoline vapor and the smell of life stick in your throat. No one gives a damn here – it’s up to the tourist to adapt.

Neapolitans shop at street markets made up of small shops, eat at tiny, century-old buffets, get an aperitif two corners away, and then accompany it all down with an espresso that could fell an ox. They chat and socialize constantly. And yes, the doors of the houses open onto the street, everyone mixes freely and doesn’t hide what’s inside. There is trust. They talk every day across the street, or just from one scooter to the other, talking about everyday life or making a deal in a hurry. This world is fascinating, and the visitor is fascinated by their lives, even if it is tiring to pay attention because something is constantly happening. It’s also easy to make friends: they’ll invite you for a drink or tell you where to eat, and you may be offered a plate of food for free. There’s no anxiety about taking a wrong turn and ending up in some dark alley. (2017)

Sotterranea (catacombs)

“The most interesting tour in the city, and one worth it's €10 fee, is of the catacombs. Several groups organize such tours.

As early as 400 BC the ancient Greeks had learned how easy it was to dig up the volcanic tuff, and how suitable this material was for making bricks. Therefore, houses were built by first digging down, then building up, so that each house had a subterranean water reservoir. These underground spaces were later linked by passageways and insulated with clay, so that water would not percolate through them. To this day, the holes in the wall made by the ancient well cleaners have survived.

The story goes that these were used to climb up to the houses to ask for their payment. If they did not receive their fee, they stirred the water with sand to make it undrinkable.

The Romans also used this water system and added a longer aqueduct system to link it to the mountains. This feat of ancient engineering remained in use until the cholera epidemic of 1885 when it was closed. The catacombs were then converted into air-raid shelters during World War II, and debris was dumped here after the bombings. Yeah, trash disposal has never been a strong point among the Neapolitans.”

National Museum


"There are many interesting finds in the National Museum of Naples. For example, the marble sculptures, the togas of which were carved from alabaster by the artist; if there is no guard present, I inconspicuously touch the marble and alabaster, and cannot for the life of me imagine how the sculptor got such wonderful folds into the stone.

There are a couple of rooms of original ancient paintings, real paintings with preserved colors, and many mosaics, including a picture of Alexander the Great, precisely the one included in my high school history book as an illustration for the chapter on Alexander the Great. I am moved. There is also a bunch of phalluses. Ancient phallus statues, filling a room, behind the showcases are all sorts of variations, with various accretions, wings, etc., that must express and evoke the magical power of phallus. "

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