At the beginning of April my friends Candice, Julie, Ashley and I took a weekend trip to Naples and Pompeii. This trip was a long time coming and after much delay we were finally able to arrange our schedules to visit the city where pizza was invented.
To be honest, I didn’t really know what to expect in Naples. The only two things I new about Naples were 1) it is the most dangerous city in Italy, and 2) you have to eat pizza in Naples. People kept on going on and on about Naples being “so dangerous” that it made me really nervous to go. Romans couldn’t believe I would want to visit such a place! Thank goodness they were wrong. Thankfully, staying safe was not even a concern and my friends and I were able to enjoy the city without our lives being at stake.
Naples is a 2 hour train ride south of Rome and is situated on the mediterranean coast. The water is beautiful and I made sure to spend some time close to it while I was there. One of my favourite memories of the weekend in Naples is when we walked around Castel Nuovo, looking at the colourful houses along the harbour, feeling the salty wind against our skin. The ocean is something I miss about Rome. Although we have a port city not far away from Rome, something about being right on the water really gets me. Seeing the ocean was the highlight of Naples for me. And definitely the most beautiful.
After our long walk along the water, my friends and I decided to get some pizza. We wandered the streets of Naples trying to find the infamous “L’Antica Pizzeria Da Michele”, most easily recognized as the place that Julia Roberts ate at in Eat, Pray, Love. The pizza was delicious and cheap. I got double mozzarella which was even better. Even though we waited an hour in line, the pizza came to us fast and fresh – I’d say the wait was worth it! So what is so different and special about Neapolitan pizza you ask? Well, the crust is slightly thicker and maybe a bit more doughy then the paper thing crust we have in Rome. Other than that…nothing really. But I’m still glad we tried it!
Other than exploring Castel Nuovo and going to L’Antica Pizzeria Da Michele, all we did in Naples was wander. The feel of Naples is incredibly different then in Rome. It is far less touristy but yet the streets seem more crowded – with locals! Clean laundry hangs from the balconies, buckets are lowered to the streets to be loaded with fresh fruit and then lifted up to the open windows above, motorinos zip through the streets (often driven by people no older then 12)…In Naples it is loud, rambunctious and busy as well, but, the thing I noticed most about Naples was the garbage. There was garbage everywhere!! It’s like people had somehow forgot that garbage cans existed and so they would through trash bags into the middle of the street, dump old mattresses and bikes in the alleys, and litter everywhere. It was disgusting! Unfortunately this is what I remember most about Naples and is a huge contributing factor as to why I don’t really want to go back any time soon. I think that maybe if I had time to get used to the garbage (?!?!) then maybe I would appreciate the charm a bit more but it was just so overwhelming…and also very stinky.
When it turned dark, my friends and I went back to our hostel and just had a quiet night in before going to Pompeii in the morning. We met up with Lydia and Bekah at the train station before our short train ride to see the old ruins of Pompeii. The Roman city of Pompeii was preserved in 79 AD when a nearby volcano erupted covering the whole city in lava, soot, and ash. The lively city of Pompeii met a standstill and became nothing – until now. Now in the 21st century, thousands of people come to tour Pompeii to get a better idea of what an ancient Roman city would look like.
It was super hot out when we went to Pompeii and the roads were dusty, blowing dirt into our faces. Pompeii is also extremely big – it truly is a completely preserved city! I enjoyed seeing the ruins and exploring them at my own leisure. After a couple hours though we were all getting pretty hot so we decided to call it a day. We live in Rome anyway…this may sound really glamorous to some but to us, well, we are used to seeing ruins on a day-to-day basis. Don’t get me wrong – Pompeii was amazing – but, sometimes, a ruin is a ruin. And so really, how many ruins can you see without them just blending all together.
In the afternoon we returned to Naples where we ate some more pizza and enjoyed the trash before heading home on an evening train. Final verdict: it was amazing being in Naples with my friends, getting away from Rome, and seeing something new. Would I ever go back? Hmmm…maybe? If someone paid for me? Yes, then I’d go back. It definitely wasn’t my favourite city in Italy, that’s for sure. Pompeii was also pretty great – just a heads up though…Ostia Antica (about 30 mins away from Rome) is just like Pompeii but even better because you can climb up and down the ruins. So maybe save some money and go there when you are in Rome. But still. I saw Pompeii! That’s pretty cool and I am very happy I went.
Ciao for now!