9 months away & a visit to NaplesMarch 27, 2017 in Italy
We've been on the road for 9 months today. These monthly milestones seem to be coming closer and closer together as we become more settled in this way of life.
Our journey happens everyday and although Vicky likes to plan, we've been on our own for the last 6 months and have embraced not knowing exactly where we will be next month, next week or even tomorrow, as our plans often change depending on what we encounter. While we've got a month by month itinerary of which country we'll be in, we don't plan our week by week until close to the time we go. We sometimes set off with a stopover in the sat nav, but if the van is serviced and we intend to wild camp, we don't know where we'll be sleeping. A major advantage is the element of discovery and surprise. A disadvantage, if you can call it that, is that without set plans for specific dates and places, we don't look forward with any level of detail or spend time visualising and anticipating as we would when we used to plan a week's holiday to somewhere familiar like Bala in Wales. Its friends and family to the rescue in this respect because we are lucky to be able to look forward to several highly anticipated visits in the coming months!
Anyway, enough of this introspection, we are in Napoli, the home of Neapolitan pizza! Our Italian camperstop book told us there was overnight parking available at the port for a charge as well as a campsite a little further out of town. The parking was within walking distance from the centre, so we headed for this first and programmed the campsite in as a backup.
It was with more than a little trepidation that we exited the motorway and began to negotiate the city streets. We'd met a Dutch couple a few days ago who had just come from Naples and described it as a 'crazy city' (and not in a good way). The Rough Guides description backed this up, so we had our wits about us. After asking two people, we found the parking within the busy port complex and although it was €30 for 24 hours, we decided the proximity to the centre and the on site parking attendant made it worth it.
After taking care of Poppy, we strode out in search of lunch. The day was overcast and cooler than we'd been used to, with a few rain showers. Vicky found it quite refreshing to see Italy in this weather as she still felt all the warmth and sunshine was a bit unreal.
Ironically, the marketside pizzeria wanted to flog us a Margherita and seemed not to understand 'Pizza Napoli' until we pointed it out on their menu board. We took it away and perched on a crumbling concrete planter at the side of the road to devour it and the deep fried dough balls they'd thrown in. It was just the ticket, being able to soak in the sights and feel of the city while eating our delicious local lunch.
We'd come to the Forcella, at night it was apparently a Mafia stronghold but in the day it was a crazy bustling hive of activity, with market stalls lining streets, filling squares and squeezing in any place they saw fit. There was a mix of Italian, west Asian and African cultures that brought a vibrancy to the city, although there was a definite hierarchy, with the African sellers performing their trade from rugs layed on the pavement.
The city certainly had 'Sass' and there was a hardness to the people that we hadn't seen in other areas of Italy, but when you approached them with a friendly smile and made the effort to talk Italian, the majority were warm and friendly and we didn't have any negative experiences. Strangely enough, although we didn't relax when out and about, it felt like our sort of place. Vicky loved routing through the second hand clothes stalls, Will loved the fresh fruit, veg and fish being sold on the street and we both loved the the diversity. There were many distinct areas, from the Asian district, the markets where locals bought their fare, the tourist section with trinkets and inflated prices, the artisan eateries and the few attempts at modernisation. There was graffiti everywhere, a certain amount of rubbish and most cars had prominent dents and scratches. The majority of houses were ramshakle tenements with flaking plaster, but these had been built around (and sometimes on top of), some beautifully grand historical buildings, many of which had fallen into disrepair, so that you had to actively look about you to see them.
An unexpected treat came in the form of a visit to the Napoli Sotteranea; underground tunnels built by the Romans, in which had existed a meeting place for philosophers and shops such as a bakery, a dyeing shop, a bank and a laundry (Vicky couldn't resist playing at hand washing -she'd been doing so much of it recently!)
Towards the end of our exploration we bought a couple of pastries and ate them sitting on the slightly damp wicker chairs in a narrow thoroughfare, one of the chairs having recently been righted after being knocked over by a car crawling between the pedestrians and street furniture.
Vicky had had her fill and so returned to the van and made a salad for tea. She wasn't best impressed when Will returned with a supposed Naples 'speciality' of
deep fried pizza, considering he is now trying to lose weight!
We revisited the markets before setting off the next morning and came home with some gorgeous looking fish, prawns, some veg, bread and strawberries that Will later made into jam. There are many people who wouldn't like Naples. Perhaps being pre-warned helped us prepare for its overbearing character, but we both loved our time there!Read more