Naples is a completely different city than either Rome or Venice. In fact, in many ways it’s the opposite of Venice. Where Venice was often expensive, fake and touristy, Naples is cheap, busy, and often dirty. Personally, I really liked it! The streets were narrow and full of honking cars. It’s true that at night, many of the districts were creepy, and we were even told by one man to ‘not trust anybody’ at night. I don’t necessarily think it’s as dangerous as people say – we stayed on the main roads at nighttime, and no one bothered us.
Unfortunately, it was raining about half the time that we were there, but we still managed to do a few things!
The pizza in Napoli is excellent, as long as you know what to look for – there are places that sell absolutely awful, miniature pizzas. The good stores make the pizza by hand, put it into a brick oven right in front of you, and sell enormous pizzas for 3 or 4 euro. Those pizzas are delicious. Besides eating, we wandered the streets, walking past many street vendors and, unfortunately, beggars.
The second day we took a quick ride from Naples to Herculaneum, which is a small town near Pompeii, with a similar excavation site.
The Roman town of Herculaneum was also buried when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD. The difference between the towns is that while Pompeii was buried under ash over the period of a couple hours, Herculaneum is even closer to Vesuvius, and the molten lava buried it much more quickly. That meant that even the organic material, such as wood, was preserved. It was a different experience seeing a nearly complete Roman town, with streets and well preserved buildings – even a few frescos and mosaics.
We could see the narrow streets, the houses, store fronts, a temple to Augustus, and even some public toilets!
Besides that, Naples is situated on a really pretty bay, and although we weren’t able to get to the beach, we made it to the waterfront, which was nice. One of the best things to do in Naples is find a great spot with a view across the bay to sit down and relax. Naples is definitely not the wealthiest or most well kept city in Italy, but its position on the bay is beautiful, and the proximity of Pompeii and Herculaneum make it well worth a visit!