My Air BnB host, Ignazio, told us 2 days was not enough time to spend in Naples. He’s probably right. He told us to “live with the city, taste the city, smellllll the city” (all while driving us and making grand hand gestures). He was the best. The apartment we stayed in was lovely. The only things to complain about were the lack of wifi and the inconvenient location. We did feel a little unsafe walking around at night. But it was like $40 – perf for us poor recent grads.
About 75% of the things we did in Naples, we did just because we happened to run into them. Like this awesome street market. Notice how it’s not jam packed. We did run into one of those, but I couldn’t tell you where we were (but maybe Via Pignasecca, acc. to my CityMaps).
Ah, also the city was really dirty and covered in graffiti, which you hate to see. If it’s artistic graffiti fine. But this was not. There was also an insane amount of garbage. Children were playing in garbage on the street. It was bizarre, and became a joke as we walked around quoting Ignazio, “smellll the city”. After the first day we got used to it. Maybe that’s just how it is. Maybe we were just in the dirty parts.
What I did love a lot is that around almost every street corner there was a little shrine to a different saint. Like the patron saint of the road. I love that while the rest of the street might be kind of dirty, these were well kept and you can tell that the people who live there do love where they live.
As we walked towards the water, we came upon Castel Nuovo. It was huge and unfortunately for us, closed for the day. Reading about it online though, it sounds pretty cool. From here, we walked towards Via Francesco Caracciolo. It’s a pedestrian walkway along the coastline and it’s beautiful. There seemed to be a lot of locals here, lots of people just hanging out and enjoying the summer evening. There’s a view of Sorrento!
This meal at Pizzaiolo del Presidente was the top 2 meals we had in Italy. We compared every meal after this to it. The antipasta, chicken pesto pizza, and bread were to die for. I read online somewhere that in Italy it’s rude to just order, instead you should ask the waiter what to get. I tried doing that in a few places (including here) and they were totally annoyed. So just get what you want.
The next morning we got up early to go to Pompeii! You buy tickets for this in the train station, but in another downstairs part. Just go to the tourist office in the train station and they’ll direct you. It’s like 11 euro roundtrip. This was also the only place in Naples we saw gypsies… and tourists. At least in a concentrated area (the ticket station). After a 30-40 minute train ride, you’re dropped off at the Pompeii stop in Sorrento. There’s going to be a lot of people trying to get you to go on a guided tour in English and you should do it. I think it was 21 euro. Totally worth it.
Our guide was awesome! The tour was maybe 2 hours and afterwards she told us all the other spots we might be interested in seeing. She was well spoken and took us to all the main spots. This tour affected all our tours from here out, because she taught us a lot about ancient architecture and also how to interpret ruins.
We saw theaters, homes, shops, brothels, gyms, baths, and the main square. I’m really glad we got a tour because she gave us so much insight into what we were seeing. We wouldn’t have known anything by just walking around. Afterwards we did go see some body casts. It’s a huge city and you could spend hours and hours there. In retrospect I wish we would have spent more time in Sorrento / had gone to Herculaneum. The tour guide kept saying everything there was much more preserved and beautiful. Before we went, I read about it online and it didn’t sound that great. But, after going to Pompeii I wish I could have seen the juxtaposition.
Pompeii was my favorite thing to do. It was one of the first times where I was actually in a place I had learned about in elementary school. It gave me goose bumps the whole time.
After Pompeii we went back to Naples and ate at Antica Pizzeria E Friggitoria Di Matteo. We knew this place would be good because it was full of locals and we even had to wait for a bit to eat lunch there. I got veal with wine sauce for 6 euro and we split a bowl of spaghetti and a pitcher of wine for like 10 euro. We got significantly tipsy for SUPER cheap and continued to wander around the alleyways for the rest of the afternoon. Plus some gelato and expresso along the way.
The thing about Pompeii is that all the mosaics and relics found there were transported into the Naples National Archaeological Museum (Museo Archaeologico Nazionale Napoli). We went here in the morning before our train to Rome. It was nice in the morning. Quiet… until the school groups arrived. It’s a lovely part of town and I wish we would have come here sooner, there’s also a metro stop inside the museum.
There are countless mosaics, paintings, sculptures, and pottery. This museum has SO MUCH stuff in it that we didn’t feel the need to see any more sculpture while in Italy (sorry David). We also made it into the secret room where all the phallic signs and sex pictures from Pompeii live. Tee Hee.
Side note: We also ate at a place near the airport / our Air BnB and it was the best pizza we’ve ever had in our lives and it was extremely cheap. It was packed with locals watching a soccer game and we loved it. Bottle of house wine and a pizza was like maybe 7 euros. It’s Pizzeria La Lucerna, and I recommend it, especially if you’re flying in to Naples.
*Things I wish we would have done*
- Toured the castle
- Spend more time in Sorrento
- Gone into the basilica
- Done more Museums
- Kyaking along the coast
- Stayed out and drink with locals
- Figured out he bus / metro system. I feel like if i lived there for 6 months I still wouldn’t be able to figure it out.
- Embrace the ultra laid back, worry-free persona of the locals
- Every top thing on TripAdvisor
OK, 2 days is not enough time in Naples. Just do what you can. Eat everything in sight. It’s the cheapest place I went so take advantage of it.