Delicious Pizza, Time Machine, Dreamy Island
Trip Start May 22, 2005
107Trip End Jan 22, 2006
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We were two of the "stranger tourists" to visit Naples. The city was sketchier than we were told. We were quite proud we stayed four nights out in a suburb of Naples and left intact with all our stuff.
We experienced a number of firsts in Naples, including (1) "entrepreneurs" approaching you from the shadows of the sidewalks with electronics for sale which they keep wrapped in handkerchiefs (we don't think they give receipts); (2) very aggressive beggars who stand directly next to ticket windows waiting for your change; (3) always having to tiptoe and dodge around poop in various forms (fresh, dried, smooshed); and (4) walking home from the bus stop, a fly flew into Mel's eye and died
Another quote from Qui Napoli: "Right in the heart of the city, you must make sure you visit one of the most fascinating and mysterious sites that there is, which really grabs the attention of its visitors, in an atmosphere of stupor ..." It probably helps to be in a drunken stupor to enjoy the ambience of Naples.
The highlight of Naples was the pizza. They invented the pizza here and they make a margherita pizza that is unlike anything we have ever tasted. All other "pizza" is a poor imitation of the masterfully crafted pies made by the pizza chefs of Naples. One particular pizzeria called Da Michele off Via Pietro Colletta has been operating since 1873. The locals line up out the door waiting for the hot pies. They only make two types of pizza: margherita and marinara. The pizza consists of impossibly soft, delicious dough with fresh tomato and lightly crowned with a perfect amount of the local cheese, all flavoured at the last moment with olive oil. Each pizza is tossed after you order it by some guy in his 80s who looked like he had been doing it his entire life. The pizzas are baked in a brick oven until all the ingredients are transformed into pizza heaven. We can never eat other pizzas again
We signed up for a bus tour to Pompeii and to get there, we had to drive through the frenzied streets of Naples where the drivers are born with horns attached to their hands. Our bus driver had clearly been driven insane from driving so long in the Naples traffic. Everytime someone honked at him, he would simply respond with a cheerful "beep beep".
The ruins of Pompeii and seeing Vesuvius was very fascinating; it's like stepping back in time without the disorienting nausea associated with time machines. Ancient Pompeii had cafes and food stands just like modern day Italy. Paul tried to order something from a snackbar but it had been closed for the last two thousand years.
Capri was another day trip that we took from Naples. The breezy little island was as captivating as advertised. What we had not been told was not to go to the Blue Grotto if you get seasick. To get to the Blue Grotto, you buy a ticket for a boat to take you out to the grotto. When you get there, there are six or seven similar boats full of tourists waiting to board smaller rowboats to take you into the grotto. The wait is about an hour on the choppy sea, bobbing violently up and down and side to side. Finally, you get into a smaller rowboat for more paying, waiting and bobbing before you can enter the narrow, dangerous opening. There were four passengers and one boat rowing dude in our rowboat. We all had to lie flat against the bottom of the boat in order to avoid smashing our heads against the rocky roof of the opening. The Blue Grotto is a cave. The boat dude sang. The boat dude also insists on a tip at the end
The rest of Capri was a sunny blue and white tinted dream. We enjoyed window shopping and strolling around. In order to get to the actual town of Capri you have to ride a funicular up a cliff overlooking the sea. By far this was the funnest funicular we have ever ridden. It was both "fun" and "cular".
Goodbye Naples, Florence here we come.