It smells, it’s dirty, it’s way too crowded

Naples is a horrid place. It smells, it’s dirty, it’s way too crowded. Poverty seeps out of every pore while traffic fills every nostril. It is a city to leave, not to visit. It’s one of those odd places that natives would be proud of coming from even though it’s actually all over disgusting.

Naples

I was woken at 6am by the early morning choking of my wife who seems to have developed a lump in her throat. After waking me up and dragging me from bed we took ourselves off to the hospital. It seems we need to go to the Italian medical people at least once per Italian trip. Mirinda thought she had cancer and her throat would explode on the plane. The doctor assured her, in not very good English, that she was fine and just needed to eat some balled up bread. It’s interesting how the people in the shops here speak better English than most Englishmen but the doctors do not.

Anyway we wandered back to the hotel so I could (finally) get a coffee – it was too early to visit a chemist to get her prescription filled. I wanted to just go back to bed but eventually decided (as Mirinda was ok) to go into Naples anyway. I left her on the bed (she went to sleep almost immediately) and walked up to the station.

One hour sat on an uncomfortable plastic moulded seat is not my idea of pleasure. Four separate beggars between Sorrento and Naples was just irritating. We had a clarinet player, a child of about 8 carrying a baby as if she’d just given birth and needed to pay the hospital bills, a child with a parent playing a violin and a really bad accordion player. They take it in shifts to get on and off the train. It’s interesting watching the people who give them money. Of course if you gave to one, how could you not give to them all? Naturally I gave each of them a €50 note.

I arrived at Piazza Garibaldi which is the main station in Naples. It is a lovely open space with fountains and trees and Romanesque statuary in front of a marble edged, modern station. Standing proud and exultant is a massive, smiling statue of Garibaldi in his hour of victory…who am I kidding…

I arrived at Piazza Garibaldi which is the main station in Naples. It is a massive car park with single lanes going every which way and cars, buses and scooters doing likewise. There is a long row of tat salesmen and swindlers selling empty boxes instead of digital cameras and a very old fashioned three cups guy ripping off total suckers. It smells gross – all petrol and amassed humanity. The statue of Garibaldi looks pissed off.

From the Piazza I walked (briskly) up Via Carbonara to Via Foria, hoping that the green marked spot on my map called Piazza Cavour would be more than just two trees, lots of concrete, a locked toilet and a dead dog. Of course, by this stage disappointment was becoming the norm.

But then I walked into the museum. Like an oasis this lovely clean air conditioned palace to all things dug up in Italy, is fantastic. I imagine it could be quite awful if full of people but on a Sunday morning, it’s tranquil and the people smile. I happily paid my money and started with the loo.

Roman goddess

Virtually everywhere we’ve been on this holiday requires you to pay to use the toilet (usually 50 cents) but, bliss, no such charge here. This means no leathery looking old scary woman holding her hand out while you stand at the urinal grunting that you haven’t paid – the money is nothing but a bit of personal space is everything!

From the loo I set off for the top floor, deciding to start from there and work my way down. This place was amazing. Boy could the Roman’s do some amazing stuff. And the Greeks before them, and the Etruscans, and the…well, you get the idea.

The biggest surprise was the Secret Room! This is a small area at the back of the mezzanine floor which has only been open to the general public since 2000. Apparently the Vatican thought it would be too damaging to people’s morals if open to any but the most serious of scholars. They are still not happy about it and will perhaps rethink their decision at some later stage. Some may wonder why the Vatican thought it had to intervene on people’s viewing pleasure. It’s great that’s why!

The Roman’s loved their porn and boy did they create some. Extraordinary statues, drawings, frescos, you name it. Massive great…well, you get the idea. If you are interested in knowing more, send a plain, brown paper envelope to me and I’ll send you some shots…nudge, nudge.

The best part of the museum was seeing all the artefacts that had been removed from the dig at Pompeii (and Herculaneum etc). It put things into context a lot clearer. And some of the statues are just ENORMOUS. There’s the head of a cupid big enough to house a family of six!

Mosaic

After doing everything except the coins, I once more headed out to the Piazza Garibaldi – I’ll not bore you with any more details though I tried to hold my breath for the two kilometres – and to the Circumvesuviana platforms. I eventually boarded another plastic seated train (this one had an annoying habit of whistling very loudly every time we approached and left a station) and squashed into a corner for the one hour ride back to Sorrento.

Back in room 404, Mirinda was enjoying some awful Italian bread, having spent the morning asleep, hunting for an open chemist and buying some nice stuff to eat. After I told her of my adventures, we went down to the Fauno for our last meal there and had a bit of a wander before the light rain chased us back to our room for the afternoon.

After the usual Italian siesta (and not so typical typing frenzy) we wandered around the lanes one more time, ending up at Villa Communale for a final coffee. Interestingly, the crowds seem bigger than a week ago and I could only assume this was the preparation for the summer onslaught. So glad to be going home tomorrow!

Sorrento by night

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