There is a saying in Italian “Vedi Napoli e poi muori” which translates to English as “See Naples and die”. Many can be forgiven for having the assumption that this relates to the incessant amount of crimes that reach our ears from outside of Napoli – the mafia, the guns, the thefts…but in fact this phrase was coined in regards to the fact that once you have seen the beauty and magnificence of Naples, there is no point in continuing to live – you have done it all.
Although I do see this phrase as rather dramatic and personally feel that there are so many more places that I hope to see before I die, I have to give it to the Italians that Naples is definitely a place to pen into your bucket list. The best thing about Naples for me was that your expectation of becoming a victim of the mafia are replaced by becoming one of the many people that the locals want to help out. Your expectation of litter and dirt everywhere is replaced by the reality of graffiti, art and a huge selection of different stalls to peruse. Your pre existing thoughts of being ripped off due to the fact that you are a tourist get replaced with how fairly you are actually treated and how cheap things actually are – and finally, the stereotype you are holding in your mind about how dangerously the Nepalese drive… is true. Look left and right, and then left and right again before crossing any road.
I only had two days to visit Naples myself, going up on the Saturday morning and having to return before I was ready on the Sunday early evening – and although my time there felt far too little, my friend and I did manage to fill quite the itinerary.
So what did I do in Naples? Well first stop was to check in to our fabulous hostel – Hostel of the Sun.
This was easily one of the best hostels I have ever stayed in. Beds come at a pretty decent price of around 15 euro, it is in a great location which makes it easy to get to just about anywhere in the city. The staff here are some of the friendliest, most helpful that I have ever come across in any places I have stayed, they will go out of their way to help you, hang out with you, and give you some great tips for outside of the hostel. The beds are comfortable, the rooms are a decent size so you aren’t pressed up against a stranger during the night like I have unfortunately found in other hostels I’ve stayed in… AND the bathrooms are super clean, and actually feel like bathrooms rather than cubicles which make it feel nice and homely.
In addition to this they run their own free walking tour from the hostel itself, which includes a stop along the way for limoncello (score!), they offer complementary nibbles in the evening, breakfast in the morning, a safe place to keep your bags after you have checked out, they have a bar, a cosy beanbag, sofa area and even some pretty cool art on the wall in the common area.
So first came check-in, and next came PIZZA. Seriously, if I have to die from anything, then I would like to die from eating too much pizza in Naples. On a recommendation that my friend received from a student we chose to eat at the famous restaurant ‘Sorbillo’. Mamma Mia, eating pizza here wasn’t just about eating in a famous, well recommended restaurant. Each bite of the pizza was like a religious experience that led me closer to enlightenment. You will have to wait a while to get seated, but from this you will receive some fairly speedy service, friendly waiters, live music, and happy, full customers – both locals and tourists surrounding you.
Following pizza came perusing the outside markets before heading back to the hostel just in time to catch the walking tour. When it finished a few of us headed up to Castel Sant’Elmo by cable car. It’s open daily from 08.30 – 19.30 and you can gain entry for €5,00 or €2,50 with discount. I didn’t actually go inside so avoided the cost, but instead took a walk around the castle and took in the incredible 180 ° view you can see of Naples. Going up there is well worth it just for the view, we were even paid a cheeky visit up there by a red bull car giving out free cans which was an added bonus.
After a little bit of time at the hostel to recuperate and grab a drink, we headed down to the beach for the Vans off the wall skateboarding festival, which was a lovely little surprise as we didn’t know it was happening that weekend. It was free entry, and THE HIVES played.
Post festival, fuelled with beer and energy we headed down to piazza Bellini on a recommendation of a group of Italians from the festival. This place was almost as mad as the festival itself, with the streets full to the brim of strangers becoming friends, and the bars ready to welcome you in and join you with shots and celebrating.
After a few hours of sleep I entered hell, and a hangover I wasn’t sure I would ever recover from – but after sympathy and cuddles from both the people working at the hostel and my friend I was ready to make the most of my last couple of hours in Naples.
After wondering how we could see as much as we could of Naples without completely finishing off our poor, hung over bodies – we eventually settled on the idea of the hop on, hop off bus tour. Although there wasn’t too much hopping off involved in the end as we didn’t have enough time, we did get to see an overview of nearly everything from the comfort of the bus with the sun beaming down and tanning us.
I would definitely recommend getting the 3 buses if you are strapped for time but want to see the city. It will set you back £19.00 for adults and £9.50 but are informative about everything you pass, the views are beautiful, and you get to see far more than you would be able to on foot.
Catch your first bus from Piazza Matteotti
Got more time then I had? Get yourself out to Capri or Pompei which are a short boat ride out of Naples. And go and work your legs at Mount Vesuvius!