Naples- Italian for “a horses head in a bed”

Flying over the Alps to Naples

Flying over the Alps to Naples-iPod photo

Two weeks ago (19th-23rd May 2011) saw us
travelling to Naples, Italy. (Yes, I know, we live the lives of international rock
stars….but without the rock star bank balance I’m afraid!)

The idea was to research how the Italians present street art
& to see if we could pick up any tips, but of course it could just be one
big excuse for having a good time. Although after reading all the on-line blogs
and reviews about how Naples was “the crime capital of Europe” & “don’t
take anything valuable with you & sew your money into your underclothes “
& “don’t be surprised if you wake up in the morning sleeping next to a horse’s
head”  it did make me wonder if we’d made
the right choice here??

I mean, how bad can Naples be?….a hotbed of crime? Home of
the Mafia and mountains of rubbish on the street; Pickpockets and rapists at
every turn? So I thought I’d do a bit of research for myself and the first
thing I found was a Google Maps street view of our hotel: Correra 241….I showed
this to Catherine and her first reaction was…”what is this ‘shit hole’ you are
taking us to?” and to be honest my spirits sank. This; coupled with the fact
that unlike every other Italian city: Rome, Florence, Venice, Pisa etc. Naples
was the only one that didn’t have a Lonely Planet Guide Book or any form of
book dedicated exclusively to that city….the one we eventually picked up was
the DK Eyewitness travel guide: Naples & Amalfi Coast.

Now I don’t know about you but this set alarm bells ringing
and the first thing it says to me is that this city is NOT INTERESTING enough
for an exclusive guide book and forget the Lonely planet…….even Naples is off
that radar. So our picture of Naples was complete: A dirty, rat infested shit
hole where tourists feared to tread, the arse hole of Europe where nobody in
their right mind would venture!!

So with that picture in mind we set off from Liverpool
Airport and our 3 hours Easyjet Flight to Naples, this was greatly assisted and
shortened with the aide my iPod loaded with my favourite movies; The Godfather
parts 1, 2 & 3. (OK, I made that bit up but you get the picture!)

Our landing at Naples airport was quite spectacular….a
bright sunny morning in May, about 10.30am local time and fantastic views of
the mountain ranges that surround the city together with odd glimpses of Mount
Vesuvius, Europe’s only continental active volcano. Unusually for city
airports, Naples is situated close to the city centre which meant negotiating a
flight path over heavily populated suburbs which was quite hair-raising in

TOUCHDOWN….we’d arrived and after check-out and security we
made our way to the Bus station for our short journey into the centre of town.
The bus dropped us off at Corso Garibaldi, right outside the main train and
metro station….with our hotel being on the opposite side of the city, the next
job was to figure out a way to get to our hotel. We could have just jumped a
taxi of course but I’ve always found that the best way to discover a new city
is NOT to rely on taxis but to find your own way around, be independent and in
that way it benefits the rest of your stay because you know the lay of the land
from the off. So armed with my trusty map of the city and two x’s pencilled in…one
where we were dropped off and one were we needed to be (our hotel) we proceeded
to find the metro station nearest to our hotel. This happened to be Montesanto which
was about two stops across the city from Garibaldi; this was still quite a walk
from our hotel so a healthy tip here is to travel light. We only had one medium
sized suitcase (with wheels) and a couple of rucksacks, so it made for a pleasant
warm 75 degrees, May morning stroll through the back streets of Naples.

Catherine: our first view of Nalpes walking from Montesanto metro to our hotel

Catherine: our first view of Nalpes walking from Montesanto metro to our hotel

By the time we arrived at the hotel we thought we knew the
city really well; we negotiated the bus, the metro and the streets of this strange
and new city and felt a sense of achievement. WE DID IT all by ourselves…Yippie!

You see that’s the thing about travelling abroad, it can
seem quite daunting and you do need time to work out how things work, what’s
what and making mistakes are all a part of the journey but it is just the best feeling
on earth to go independent and really get under the skin of a place, it doesn’t
half make travelling FUN!!

The buildings and accommodation around our hotel reminded us
very much of Paris, you know that kind of ‘high-rised’ feel with people living
cheek by jowl and little Parisian style ironwork balconies where people would hang
out their washing or tender their little balcony gardens… first sight it
looked very much like the images from Google Maps……The graffiti ridden &
litter strewn streets that had seen better days, complete with that faint sweet,
sickly smell of decay, the type that reminds you of the colour brown …..Of
course it’s no coincidence that Naples reminds us of Paris as the French had indeed
colonised the city in the past and to my mind that French influence was still all
around in the architecture if not the culture.

View from our hotel looking up F.Savero Correra

View from our hotel looking up F.Savero Correra

We entered our hotel (Correra 241) through a court yard and up a flight of
steps off F. Saverio Correra (street) and where pleasantly surprised to see a
large, light and airy reception area painted in bright primary colours and surrounded
by a rooftop garden furnished with exotic potted plants and a very comfortable
seating area for guests. It was like entering another world and in complete
contrast to the street below and outside.

But this is one of the things we were about to discover
about Naples…..all is not what it seems to be and to NEVER judge a book by its

Room at Hotel Correra 241- ipod Photo

Room at Hotel Correra 241- ipod Photo

The staff on reception were happy and friendly and showed us
to our room which was equally impressive for a 3 star hotel…a nice, clean and roomy
two tier affair with the bathroom and toilets being up a flight of stairs to
the left of the entrance; but again painted in nice cheery primary colours that
gave out an air of relaxation and calm…OK, that’s it; this is going to be a fun

Room at Hotel Correra 241- ipod Photo

Room at Hotel Correra 241- ipod Photo

Our primary objective; to find and check in to our hotel before midday…NOW RELAX and plan our first afternoon in Naples….Base camp has
been established!!!

View from our Hotel room, looking towards Via E. Pessina

View from our Hotel room, looking towards Via E. Pessina

After a couple of hours in our hotel room, unpacking,
resting and planning our itinerary we headed off to explore the city around 2pm….if
you come away on a holiday with Phil & Cath don’t expect to sit around on a
beach doing nothing….we don’t do beaches and sitting around doing nothing is
NOT on our agenda. Nothing is what we do when we die…..and at the end of the day
you only get out of something what you are prepared to put into it so off we

Arrival at Museum-iPod photo MUSEO ARCHEOLOGICO

Arrival at Museum-iPod photo MUSEO ARCHEOLOGICO

Our first stop was the Museo Archeologico Nazionale (National Archaeological
Museum) which happened to be ideally situated just round the corner from our
hotel. This has been described as one of the world’s top museums of ancient

Incredible mosaic Art from Pompeii- iPod photo

Incredible mosaic Art from Pompeii- iPod photo MUSEO ARCHEOLOGICO

That is NOT an overstatement….we were absolutely overwhelmed by the wealth
of beautiful and priceless objects on display. From ancient Rome and many parts
of Italy but also the irreplaceable objects from Herculaneum & Pompeii; Mosaics,
Bronze and marble sculptures, jewellery and domestic items, all painting a vivid
picture of Roman life. This was just an art lovers paradise….We must have looked
like little children in a sweet shop who just couldn’t stop smiling.


Aphrodite (nice derriair)- iPod photo MUSEO ARCHEOLOGICO

But that’s just a part of it….the building where all this stuff was housed was a work of art in itself- built in the 16th
century as headquarters for the royal cavalry and converted 200 years later
into a museum, with marvellous celling paintings décor we just didn’t know
where to look…it was brilliant and way beyond our expectations.


The Farnese Bull-iPod photo MUSEO ARCHEOLOGICO

At that moment, Naples had hit us straight between to eyes
and all that rubbish and nonsense we had been mis-led to believe about this fine city
had just melted away in one fell swoop…..

on leaving the museum we headed across the road to Liberty’s situated in the beautiful Piazza
for a slice of pizza and a well-earned glass of Peroni beer!

Having a beer at Liberty's

Having a beer at Liberty's

And as we were to discover over the next few days…..Naples is a very
beautiful, fine & cultured place to be! more to come…

To be continued………

This entry was published on June 5, 2011 at 6:15 pm. It’s filed under arts, culture, History, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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