Naples – most under rated city in Italy


Stazione Centrale Napoli Italy


Naples by train

I traveled to Naples from Florence via train.  Buying a ticket on an Italian train can be confusing as different companies sell tickets for the same train.   I Never did make it to Salerno but but trains are good and the public transport system in general is excellent and very affordable.

My train Florence to Salerno

My train Florence to Salerno

Getting to Naples

With an International airport a busy bus service and a fabulous train service Naples is very accessible and easily reached.  Despite this it is not a main tourist destination.  Many of the natives discussed this with me when I was there.  Even I was only there by chance.  30 minutes before my train stopped in Naples I decided I would get off there.  I had a ticket to another town further up the Almalfi coast.

Napoli Italy June 2013 (37)I have a friend Ventrella Alessandrao who I have only seen twice in 25 years.  He is from Naples but living in Rome. The day I was on the train he happened to be visiting his mother in Naples and suggested I get out and stay over.  I jumped at the chance and what I got was a personal tour of the city by foot. The best gelato,  the best pizza, the best coffee the best views, the best markets, the best the best the best.  Good neighborhoods, bad neighborhoods, colorful and challenged neighborhoods Naples has it all.  Napoli Italy June 2013 (15)My knowledge of Naples prior to arriving here were that of newspaper headlines. Garbage strikes all mafia controlled and documentaries about growing up under the mafia controlled regime. Napoli Italy June 2013 (25)My expectations were very low and I suppose could only go up. The beauty of the  place shocked me. The close proximity to such tourist destinations as Pompeii and the Almalfi Coast also shocked me.  Here is a city I would return to in a heart beat.  Its so affordable as its not a tourist destination.  We did go to a bar opening on the water and the prices were Dublin prices and the locals guessed it will not last long so I must check and see if they were correct.

Napoli Italy June 2013 (5)I arrived in Naples and having been up since 5am I needed food.  Napoli has the reputation for having the best pizza after all they invented it.  I thought it only fitting that the first thing to pass my lips in Napoli would be pizza.   I walked out of the station crossed the street and wandered into a small restaurant very busy with the typical hustle and bustle and chaos of Italian life.  Wherever you are in the city, you’re never far from an oven, crackling wood and the delicious aroma of freshly baked pizza. They take it so seriously that in 2004, the ministry for agriculture issued regulations outlining how a real Neapolitan pizza, pizza verace napoletana, should be made.  Many of the best pizza are to be found in inexpensive places with huge queues and no reservations possible. The station is located in a dodgy area and this was my first view of Naples so it was fitting in with the stories.  Its full of people trying to sell you things and crossing the street you take your life in your hands. Napoli Italy June 2013 (11) Cars just don’t stop to let people cross so you have to brave it and walk straight out dragging your bags and set your goal on the other side. Focus is the key, stare drivers down, vespas, taxi’s the lot, they are like dogs, they can smell your fear and traffic lights are only a suggestion.

Naples underground metro

Next I attempted to navigate the underground system. It was confusing as not a lot of people speak English and my Italian is minimal. It took a while but I did get sorted.   Alessandro had directed my to a station where he would pick me up so I had to change subways but I did manage to get to the right place eventually.

Alessandro and Mamma

Alessandro and Mamma

First went to his mothers house which was so typically Italian in a city very walkable and with everything at your doorstep.  The traditional Napolise hanging of laundry out of windows was everywhere and is Napoli Italy June 2013 (40)just perfect. His Mamma had made lunch. The best pasta I have ever had with fresh bread of course and salad and by amazing coffee.

The carbs got us ready for the hours of walking Napoli Italy June 2013 (42)that followed through the streets of Naples the back streets and the views over the bay of Naples are amazing.  I’m in shock more people don’t come here.  I would take this over Rome any-day, its far more authentic and alive.  Cities like Florence are like feeding grounds for tourists and this is truly Italy.  Napoli Italy June 2013 (16)

Napoli Italy June 2013 (1)








Naples of course has its problems and that is evident.  You can see the poverty in the streets in certain areas but not for a minute did I feel unsafe.  This is a livable city, children play in the streets like the old Italy you see in movies when you sigh and say oh I wish I was there.  Napoli Italy June 2013 (22) The funny thing is when all these people who dream of this authentic Italy book their tickets they steer clear of these places and they never get to see the real deal.  They choose to flock to the nightmare of Sorento where Italians claim isnt really Italian.  Or to Florence that is so pretty but the natives live outside the craziness of tourist ville so you are in type of make believe land.  Here its buzzing.  Napoli Italy June 2013 (38)

OK we have to talk coffee.  Neapolitan coffee is short and very, very strong. News articles have told of unfortunates who drank ten espresso i in one day and keeled over dead as a result. The edge is taken off its bitter strength with sugar; if you don’t want your coffee to come already sugared, ask for it amaro – although pre-sugared coffee is no longer the rule in many bars.  I am a coffee connoisseur and fussy about my espresso which I adore.  I thought I had died and gone to heaven when Sandro brought me for what he described as the ‘best coffee in the world’He also loves his coffee so this must be good.  Napoli Italy June 2013 (27)This is called a Brazilian, the only Brazilian I’d had in life to this point was a bikini wax but when I tasted that coffee OMG.  He had an iced coffee and I’m not a fan of iced coffee but this I would order every day.  He says he only orders it when In Naples as its the only place the make it correctly.  Oh god I want to live here.  We stood at the counter like all the Italians, sipping our super cool coffees and in general I was feeling super cool as I was hanging with the locals experiencing things I would never have had the opportunity to if I had being on a package holiday or listened to guide books and had not gotten off the beaten track.

Napoli Italy June 2013 (35) Napoli Italy June 2013 (39) Napoli Italy June 2013 (44)You can walk for hours and see a different scene around every corner.  Despite the poverty in some areas, the buildings are beautiful and I didn’t see any crap looking modern style apartments shoved into the setting and ruining it like so many places you go today, Dublin is a prime example.  Italy has retained it authenticity and with its problems at least its tourist industry has a chance to survive and grow.  Italy is of course very Catholic, the big man himself lives there.  Who? the pope of course.  So churches are everywhere and the ones not listed in your tour guides the ones you come across on backstreets are the ones to see. Working churches for the people, not zoo like the Vatican.  Napoli Italy June 2013 (36) Napoli Italy June 2013 (33)I went inside and lit a candle and said my traditional prayer. There is something about Italian churches I cant resist. I did try to take pictures but the man whose job it is to prevent people taking photos stopped me. This is after all a place of worship.  Funny in all those famous churches in Rome and Venice and Florence tourists click away and use flashes.  In all honesty how could you even remember to pray.

The rest of the day we strolled around parks and historical streets. There is even a street where they make Christmas decorations and they are on view all year round.  Napoli Italy June 2013 (41)






Napoli Italy June 2013 (31)







The four funicular railways (Centrale, Chiaia, Mergellina and Montesanto) only take you to the Vomero and back.  This was awesome and the engineering of it amazing.Napoli Italy June 2013 (6)




I don’t see the point of driving in Italy and apart from the occasion in Rome when the driver got drunk and I had no choice but to take the wheel. It is easy to navigate all towns and cities especially Naples by bus, metro, car or bike.  Buses are not comfortable here just a heads up and with the traffic here you are often quicker walking. Public transport is extremely cheap compared to other countries. A single ticket allowing up to three trips on all metropolitan transport, including one trip only on the metro and funiculars – costs €1.10 and is valid for 90 minutes. A 24 hour ticket for unlimited travel on all metropolitan public transport costs €3.10 Monday to Friday. The 3-day ticket costs €20 and includes Alibus & buses on Capri and Ischia). Tickets can be bought at a newsstand, tabacchi or ticket machine before boarding. Then time-stamped in the machine.

Naples for me was the best surprise of this year.  Its so underrated which I loved. I like to blend in and I would hate to be considered a tourist anywhere 🙂

Trains in Italy

Napoli Italy June 2013 (5)




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About Sandra

Just a girl from Ireland who wants to live everywhere. Not a planner, a winger when it comes to travel. I don't even like people who plan too much. Without spontaneity there is no depth. A jack of all trades. A great friend, loyal and passionate and I expect the same in return. Always ready for the next adventure at a moments notice.
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