This past month I’ve had the pleasure of staying in Portici in Naples and it has certainly been an adventure. Having been to Rome and Venice before I thought I was prepared for Italian life, but I was very wrong.
Rome and Venice are beautiful and are very obvious tourist destinations with their laid back vibes, beautiful views, lovely food and numerous sights. Naples, however is just as beautiful despite its bad reputation for crime and waste and I can’t help but feel that spending time in Naples has given me a raw, authentic feel of life in Italy.
As I’m nearing the end of my stay here in Napoli, I thought I’d share 7 things that this month in this lively Italian city has taught me.
Meal time is taken very seriously in Italy. It’s a time where families go out and eat together or friends catch up. It isn’t to be rushed and this is obvious when waiters and waitresses at restaurants just leave you to it. It isn’t 'a thing' like it is in the UK and America for staff to come up to you while you’re eating and ask if your meal is ok or if you want anything else.
This by no means indicates that waiting staff in Italy are rude, it’s quite the opposite. If you signal them when you need service they are more than happy to help with a friendly smile, personally I prefer this. There is nothing more annoying than having to tell someone your meal is “fine thanks” mid-chew.
Italy prides itself on its fashion but think twice before using up space in your suit case for your favourite stiletto heels. I’ve never been one for heels myself, I’m a converse kinda girl and can’t bare for my feet to be in pain, but I still made a rookie mistake by wearing cheap flat sandals. If the whole “step on a crack, break your back” saying was truth…the hospitals in Naples would be ridiculously full.
Naples is very hilly and pavements are made up of uneven slabs of stone with massive gaps in between them. No-one would get home in heels after a heavy night of drinking without a twisted or broken ankle, so take my advice. If you spend money on anything for your trip to Naples, spend it on a really good pair of practical shoes. After all, practical doesn’t have to mean ugly and your feet will thank you for it later!
Don’t let romantic movies fool you. Yes, Italy is beautiful and you can have a lovely getaway as a couple, but you definitely won’t be skipping hand in hand down the streets of Naples.
The pavements are very narrow and as mentioned before, a bit of an obstacle at times. You’ll often have to move out of the way of a speeding motorbike driving too close to the curb and forget walking side by side if someone is coming towards you. Either
move aside or risk being clipped by that bike!
As I was rolling my suit case along, and drawing a lot of attention to myself with the noise I was making on the pavements, I noticed dogs poking their heads out of the bars on their balconies. A lot of dogs, all having conversations with each other and barking across to their neighbours. I’m pretty sure every house hold had at least one.
So my next lesson was to mind the dog poop! It doesn’t seem like picking up after your dog is a big deal for people like it is in the UK because there was quite a lot of it.
At the beginning of our trip, whenever we went out in the evening for dinner I was a bit alarmed that no-one else was there. In the UK it’s usually a good idea to avoid empty restaurants since it’s a good hint that no-one wants to eat there. We still went to the empty pizzeria and it was the best pizza I had ever had.
Don’t be put off by empty restaurants, in Italy people eat much later than the British. Instead of going for dinner at around half 6, we went for half 8 the next time and the restaurants were packed full of chatty, happy locals. Many restaurants don’t even open their doors before 7:30 in the evenings.
I never thought it was possible to become so stressed out when crossing a road. Traffic lights mean nothing unless you’re already in the middle of the road, and forget zebra crossings!
Jaywalking is the way forward here in Naples. You have to wait for a perfect moment to walk (or for a brave local to do it first) in front of moving cars and pray that they stop.
Now I realise I’m a deviant and an alien, but I’ve never been IN LOVE with pizza. I do like a nice pizza now and again on cheat meal days, but it’s not the love of my life (it is my husband’s though).
Pizza in Naples however took my breath away. It is so soft and doughey, the mozzarella is delicious and I don’t even know where to start with the tomato sauce. It is without a doubt the best pizza you will ever have, which is not surprising since pizza was invented in Napoli!
If you’re staying in or around Naples on the Circumvesuviana line I recommend taking a trip to Portici (get off at potici bellavista) and making your way to a restaurant called Pizza Verace. The pizza is beautiful and they do really tasty arancini too!
Don’t let the reputation of this amazing city fool you. Just like any city there are dangers, but if you let it hold you back you will miss a truly amazing Italian experience. Just be very vigilant in Naples, try not to look too much like a tourist, leave your prejudices at home and most importantly, relax!
Have any of you guys been to Naples? What did you think of it and what lessons did you take away from it?
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