Today we jump on the Circumvesuviana train to go to Naples. After the hour train ride from Sorrento we wander Naples’ centro storico and port, stopping at the Duomo (closed), the Castel Nuovo (closed), and the Museo Archeologico Nazionale (partially closed). I know, I should have planned better.
The museum’s Greek and Roman sculptures are wonderful and worth the admission. On the other hand, presentation is uninspired; like Pompeii the signage is nonexistent; the building is threadbare; and the gallery closures are due not to remodelling but a lack of staff.
Naples is an old city and it looks it. The architecture has lots of detail, color and variety and the historical centre is scaled for people, not cars, which gives it an intimate feel.
Problem is, Naples has a lot of people, cars, and mopeds, and they all share the barely one-car-wide streets. I'm not exaggerating: Naples’ streets are so narrow that many apartments never see sunlight. As a result, walking and driving look to be carefully choreographed experiences.
Naples does not draw a lot of tourists. It has a reputation for having organized crime and a lot of trash. One brief visit doesn't allow me to say anything about crime but I can say that Naples doesn't appear any dirtier than other big cities I’ve visited. The Cicumvesuviana train has a reputation for pick-pockets but the only nefarious activity I observed is a fellow tagging a window and some noisy drunk kids.
What will stick in my mind are the dark, narrow streets with laundry lines strung between buildings; the passionate locals socializing on the streets and piazzas; and the sight of men (and women) walking down the street, arm in arm, talking.
The overnight ferry ride to Naples on the SNAV Sardegna was fun. This ferry is big: 10 levels capable of carrying 1700 passengers, 575 cars, and 118 trailers. It wasn't anywhere near full.
The cozy cabin, dated appointments, and formally-dressed male staff give the ferry a retro atmosphere. (I do wonder why there are no women on staff.) Compared to a bus or a plane, the ferry is a nice way to travel.
We are now two hours from Naples, in Frankfurt, which is sort of the anti-Naples. Frankfurt's weather sucks, the regional train is wonderfully modern, and the train passengers sit quietly staring at their smartphones.
In comparison , Naples is sunny and warm, the trains are crappy and old and filthy (like Naples), and the passengers are, well, Italians. Who thought these two could share a currency?
Nevertheless, vive la différence.
The ship is the SNAV Sardegna moored in Naples between trips to Palermo. The train is heading to Frankfurt and is all high-tech with LED lighting, flat screen readouts, and boring passengers focused on their screens. Behind me - not shown in other words - is an enclosed section for pregnant women and the elderly. Can you find Paul on the train? Hint: he is the only passenger not looking at his phone.
I've started to write a few pages on where we stayed and what we did while we were in southern Italy. To see them click the Travel Southern Italy menu item and move through the pages. They are a work in progress as are the pictures that will eventually accompany them.
Accompanying pictures are of Sorrento, Capri, and Naples.