We arrived in Naples by train from Florence, settled into our very fancy digs, and then went out for a walk and to look around and to find some food.
In this first picture you can see flags, the largest being of the God of Napoli, Argentine born footballer Diego Maradona. His picture is Everywhere we walked. It was astonishing especially since he hasn’t played for Napoli since 1991, More Than 30 Years Ago. And still, he is everywhere. You can read up on his history if you’re interested. It’s fun to ask people “so, what is it with Diego Maradona?”. We have got such entertaining replies as you will see in coming days.
Here’s another Maradona.
At first I thought this was Maradona too, but no, it’s San Gennaro, patron saint of Naples. You can see the confusion – Patron Saint vs God.
I’m quite over the moon for the street art here, and the intensity of street life is palpable. And this is Day 1. These three-dimensional shrines are on every block too. My eyes are spinning.
We returned to our neighborhood and found what will surely be OUR restaurant. It’s around the corner from the flat. This picture is from the internet because currently the building is covered by scaffolding. Trattoria Fedele. Home Sweet Home.
Everything made fresh. There’s another kitchen too for the pizza and pastry. We knew from the first bite that we would be back.
How excited am I about the street art? How will I choose! There’s even a whole tour of Maradona. Here is just one company offering street art tours and there are many other companies offering tours too:
The Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli, home to most of the treasures available from Pompeii and Herculaneum, Herculaneum being home to the Villa dei Papiri, model for the much enjoyed Getty Villa. I was really looking forward to seeing some originals and there they were, and here are just a couple because, well, they look just like the ones at the Getty.
And here are some floors.
Windy took this one of her favorite, the Farnese Hercules. He’s not at the Getty Villa, we have a different Hercules, but this guy is a very big deal…
We walked there and back – we’ve been walking so much this trip, I can’t imagine keeping it up at home since it’s full-time all-day-long!
If you’re a clean = good, right, godly even kind of person you might well skip a visit to Naples. It feels a little like making the decision to visit India. If you Want to go you’ll have an amazing time but if you’re iffy or on the fence, maybe skip it.
A thing to know that the guide at the museum said 7 times and today’s guide said 12 times – the difference between the excavations at Pompeii and Herculaneum is that Herculaneum was engulfed in lava whereas Pompeii was buried under ash, pumice, and small stones. The lava protected Herculaneum but Pompeii was ravaged by treasure hunters. Of course it’s much more complicated than that!
We took the train from Naples to Pompeii and met the guide at the entrance to the site. The inset shows how Vesuvius looked before the eruption. There is so much conflicting information on the internet and even our two guides had different information.
I’ve been trying to find a good source and as usual wikipedia is pretty reliably updated with the latest research. For example for several hundred years the month of the eruption was believed to be August and now ‘everyone’ is certain it was October. Wiki has 8 long paragraphs telling the whole story yet if you google the date of the Vesuvius eruption you’ll see August all over the place.
So I’m going to let Wikipedia do what it does best and not just copy abstracts of the information you can get better directly, and updated, since I’m sure I won’t be updating this site with all the latest!
It’s a very large site and the guide said 40% of Pompeii is yet to be excavated.
The guide photo-bombed my picture! He was pretty cute though, and entertaining.
Interesting story, they had these at the museum too, how they made these molds of people who had died in the eruption.
Here’s someone else’s picture of the streets in Pompeii. The raised stones are so people can cross the street because the street was basically also the sewer. Those grooves are from the carriages.
An internet picture of the Pompeii archeological site, for some perspective. We were there for two hours and didn’t get through even a half of the streets.
We had a break in Pompeii for lunch and then the guide led us on the train, then the transfer, then the walk to the Herculaneum site which fronts the Bay of Naples. Here’s our first view, much smaller than Pompeii. Everything is in considerably better condition due to the protective lava (how that works? I do not know!). Even wood survived..
..and the fresco work is colorful and the detail visible…
..and the mosaics are AWEsome.
And it was here, at our last stop, that I learned that NO, I was NOT going to get to see the Villa dei Papiri! Oh man, I really wanted to see the Villa dei Papiri. The guide said it wasn’t open for visitors and even he has never seen it. Frommer’s says you can see it, some websites say maybe yes maybe no. Well, for me, it’s NO Not For YOU. Big Fat Bummer!
Remember how I said you could ask anyone in Naples “so, what is it with Diego Maradona?” and get an entertaining response? We went to OUR restaurant for dinner (perfectly FAB) after the long day of touring, and we asked this guy, probably one of the chefs, and he said nothing but thrust out his arm. Diego Maradona was no longer playing in Naples before this guy was even born. And I think the tattoo might be of Che Guevera because Diego has one that looks just like this one, and it’s Che!
Then we finally went home only to discover that Windy’s legs were a festering field of rash brought on by what she is sure was the bite of an Oriental Hornet she saw in Pompeii. I’ll not go on but add that the landlady of the flat where we are staying offered to call us a taxi and accompany us to the hospital. It turned out not to be necessary but how comforting to know she would.
Drum Rollllll Please The 1 1/2 inch Oriental Hornet!
It was supposed to be a nothing day, tired as we were. But we decided since we were so tired we might as well get a massage. And if we were walking to the massage place we might as well eat too.
And I finally learned what’s with all the Diego Maradona and the streets draped in flags of the Naples football team. In the 2022-2023 season they, the Napoli team, won the Italian League championship for the first time in 33 years, since way back when Maradona led the team to victory in 1989-1990. Talk about over the moon! This city is Devoted to its football team.
The last time I showed the inset from the picture below I remarked how I thought it was Maradona, God of Naples, but it was actually San Gennaro, Patron Saint of Naples. But from that first angle it didn’t show Maradona was there too, under the umbrella looking an awful lot like San Gennaro after all.
Lunch was good!
Massage was good!
A scene from the street.
Clipped from google maps, the inset shows the square of the Duomo Metro stop. You can tell the four big buildings that surround the square – we are staying in the one closest to the top. Some photos of the buildings follow. We didn’t make as much use of the Metro as we could have but were we to stay longer we would surely feel the benefit.
Speaking of the Metro, the traffic in Naples is overwhelming and they don’t have uber or lyft or any online service that works well, and anyway if you take a taxi you still have to brave the traffic – determined cars and the phalanx of motorbikes that careen around every corner three abreast or race down the narrow old town streets in a line. I think the pedestrians are remarkably tolerant under the circumstances. So we’ve been mostly walking and getting everywhere we want to go watching out for motorbikes and walking carefully on all the uneven stone streets.
The entire square is blocked up with construction to expand the Metro. Our flat is on the 4th floor and magically well insulated. It’s crazy, crack a window on the balcony and the noise is deafening, close the window and it’s silent. Too bad the pictures aren’t better…
Just walking down the street singing ooo-wa diddy diddy dum diddy-do.
In the morning we went out to find the Cloisters in the Santa Chiara church. What wiki says: “The cloister of the Clarisses is known for the unique addition of majolica tiles, added in 1742 by Domenico Antonio Vaccaro in Rococo style. The brash color and floral decoration makes this cloister, with octagonal columns in pergola-like structure, likely unique and would seem to clash with the introspective world of cloistered nuns. The cloister arcades are also decorated by frescoes, now much degraded.”
It was definitely Rococo and brash, and the frescoes degraded but still interesting. They didn’t have the artistry and joy of Fra Angelico’s but then not many do.
The street side of the wall surrounding the church and the cloister was a magnet for the street artists.
We were thinking a break would be nice, a coffee and something to dunk in it. So we ordered café lattes. I winked at the waiter and told him we were bad Italians (you do not drink coffee with milk after breakfast..heathen!). He smiled, so cute, and brought us a gift, one of the biscuits you see here. Oh my goodness fabulously delicious, I had to buy a bag of them. BUT, he said, do not eat them with coffee. You must eat them with beer, in the afternoon, with friends!
I’m really surprised, we didn’t go in. Windy does enjoy a nice charity shop!
It’s been pretty constant, a catch phrase, because everywhere you turn there’s something to look at and one of us will say ‘we’ll have to look that up’ and then neither of us will look it up because by the time we’ve come to the fifth thing we’re going to look up we’ve forgotten the first four.
I had a Street Art Tour booked for this afternoon but the operators contacted me in the morning to say the tour was canceled. Windy was going to get a facial at the massage place. So I rebooked the tour for Saturday morning and Windy went ahead with her facial. Then in the afternoon I finally did the pictures for Pompeii and Herculaneum which made me very happy:)
Tomorrow we’re taking the ferry to Sorrento which should be an adventure!
And we’re off! The ferries run often to Capri, Sorrento, Positano, and Amalfi and the port area is busy. Fortunately at least the ferries are separate from the cruise terminal. You can see a huge white block in the middle of this picture below that is the Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas, not the one with the black hull, or the other white ship you can halfway see.
The Symphony of the Seas can carry over 6,000 passengers and takes 2,200 crew. I don’t know about the other ships but you can just imagine what it’s like in the winding lanes of a small city’s ancient old town with so very many extra people. Venice and Florence = same.
The whole top deck is clamoring for a shot of..
Arriving in Sorrento, the town is built into the hills, and unlike the even more steep Positano, Sorrento has an elevator to take you from sea level up to the top of the cliff.
A view from the edge of the town’s cliff. Even with the inset you can’t see very well. These jetty-breakwater constructions hold rows of deck chairs full of people basking in the sun and having a dip in the sea.
Right at the exit/entrance of the elevator.
Friends, look at the scene below. It’s official for me. September is no longer a viable travel month to visit popular places. It’s hot and too TOO crowded. Even though kids are back in school it’s just too much with the crowds. For example omg cruise ships. They disgorge thousands and thousands who roam the streets in battalions. Now I don’t want to go anywhere if cruise ships are going to be there too.
And the buses, yikes, not here but in Pisa for example, you’d think it was a Disneyland parking lot full of buses. I’m not sorry we went but just a reminder to manage expectations.
We came across a door that led to a room offering to take us on a ‘tour through the history of Sorrento’ so, ok, let’s do that. It was a series of videos, displayed on the wall as you walked down a hall. This was fun, Sofia Loren, and that scene is a recognizable long-ago Sorrento.
The Cathedral Bell Tower. Unfortunately it was closed while we were there.
It was hot, as it has been and will be, and I wanted a break so we decided to find a place to sit in the shade. We thought, why not find a rooftop bar and indeed there was one in easy reach. Windy tried the most well-know beverage around these parts, the Lemoncello Spritz. Her report: now I know. I don’t think she’ll be ordering a Lemoncello Spritz again. The spot was great though, it totally did the trick and we left feeling comfortable and refreshed.
The bar was on top of a hotel. The pool in the first picture belongs to the hotel and is ‘around the corner’ from the bar.
And look who came to join us at the Sky Bar!
On the way back to the pier we passed the bridge to the jetty for the bathers in the sun and sea, who will be enjoying their spot until dark.
Now we’re off to catch the ferry back to Naples and then a nice walk home.
I meant to write something about the Lemons and Inlaid Wood products made here, they are specialties and stores that carry lemon this and that, decorated clothing, lemoncello, fragrances, etc etc etc, and boxes and trays and tables and etc etc etc of elaborate inlaid wood fill the streets. I regret not getting to this elemental feature of Sorrento with some pictures!
A walking tour highlight, Barbies! May I have a picture? Certo!
This morning I went for the postponed Street Art walking tour. I will say that I was surprised by the paucity of street art featured and also surprised by how interesting the tour was anyway, and how wonderfully comfortable with only me and a lovely couple from Liverpool. The guide, in the center of the picture below, was as cute as he looks.
Are you tired of the Naples football victory yet? I can assure you unequivocally that the Napolitanos are not.
This was one of the art pieces about guess who, you guessed right, Diego Maradona. The paintings have a political statement but the figure of Diego shows him ‘with legs apart’, the name of a beverage he created by adding baking soda to lemonade you can make it fizz so hard you have to step back with your legs apart so as not to get soaked. The cart just opposite the mural is selling that exact drink.
So we wonder, of course the picture favors the cart operator, and the cart operator adds a bit of local color for the tour groups that swarm over this street. One of us said sure let me give it a try, and indeed, she ended up ‘with legs apart’!
I needed to pee so I ducked into a bar that looked promising and asked for for the toilet. There were three guys in there and we started making jokes, I don’t remember the topic, but they let me use the toilet and then I ordered a grappa and took a picture. These interludes are just the best.
I forget this guy’s story but for sure he is 100% on the Napoli side.
A couple more pictures from the tour. I liked this street with the fruit stand at the turn. As I learned from the guide, the street I’m standing on is for sure not in the Spanish Quarter because the street is too wide and the buildings too new. On the right is another family shrine and memorial. They all have a story.
I met up with the tour in the Spanish Quarter by taking the Metro over from our part of town, the Porto neighborhood. All the Metro stations have been fine, ordinary subways, until I got off at Toledo station. It was cool.
After the tour Windy and I identified a few places we’d like to check out as this is our last day, and we’re off. First, remarkably, we hadn’t seen the Cathedral yet and when we got there, oh my, there was quite the hoopla. Come to learn that there was a celebrity wedding (“Jan Fabre a Belgian multidisciplinary artist, playwright, stage director, choreographer and designer, age 64”) was marrying his Italian girlfriend, age 40. Jan Fabre was also recently convicted of sexual harassment and indecent assault – you can read about it here in Art News. He was given an 18 month suspended sentence and it seems it’s about now that the 18 months would be over.
I can’t remember the brides name, or find it on the internet…I got all this from one of the attendees who seemed in the mood to chat while everyone waited endlessly for the bride to appear. It was so much fun. And btw they did the service in English, that being their common language, so that was fun too. We stayed long enough to get a taste for it and then quietly slipped out the back.
The place was swarming with paparazzi but I have yet to find a single photo online so we’ll have to use mine. You can’t really see the bride and groom because of the photographer standing right behind them.
A couple pictures from the Cathedral. Notice all the densely layered decorations and designs and images. It’s a Lot.
The photos are of people who have recently died.
Yes, Football. The new season has begun and TVs are setup in courtyards and on the walls of bars and even out on the street.
Another “what is this? we should look it up.”
We’re off to Amalfi tomorrow. And to bid farewell and grazie to Naples, how cute is this.