The cobbled roads are jam-packed with a horde of cars beeping incessantly, cursing one another as they pass. People fearlessly squeeze through the cracks between the frenzied traffic as if with a death wish. The walls of the looming buildings stained by grit are completely vandalised with graffiti consisting of conflicting symbols; from anarchist signs to Nazi symbols, and phrases like “eat the rich”. Damp clothes hang from the shuttered windows and Vespa motorbikes zig zag through the gloomy alleyways.
Naples is vibrant, hectic and sometimes scary. It is one city that has never stopped surprising me on every visit. Crossing the road is a gamble and the people are erratic, but it wouldn’t be a great Italian city without these characteristics. It’s raw and alive with chaos, always on the brink of something, a breath away from imploding from within. It takes you out of the comfortable feeling of other relatively safer cities in Europe, like Berlin or Amsterdam, and tips you into a creation of danger and excitement.
However, the experience of Naples isn’t all adrenaline and danger. The food, for example, is to die for. The city is the home of pizza, and most places serve a pizza with several toppings for fewer than seven euros. I can honestly say they’re the best I’ve ever tasted; the crust doughy, the tomato sauce homemade, the toppings fresh and the smell warming. Their other speciality is lobster linguine, spaghetti with various sauces and local mussels or clams. The food is an experience in itself. It is also advised to take a trip to the ruins of Pompeii, an enduring sight of history worth seeing. It takes a while to get around if, like we did, you get lost in the ruins and fail miserably to correctly read the map provided. There is also a chance to take a thirty minute trip on the train to the coastal town of Sorrento which is wonderfully relaxing and picturesque.
The market stalls that are dotted around the inner streets of Naples are also worth experiencing. The stalls sell a range of products, from electronic goods (I use the word ‘goods’ lightly here) to freshly caught fish, beach equipment and counterfeit cigarettes. It probably isn’t worth buying anything from them, but it’s worth exploring for the atmosphere alone. I would strongly recommend not having any valuables on you when walking through the market, or in fact any other part of the city other than what is needed, as pickpockets are rife.
Despite holding that air of mystery and sense of danger, it’s an urban Italian masterpiece definitely worth a visit.
Featured image from Angel Tours.