Vacation lookback: Italy (Part II)
|Pompeii No Entry|
The word that I would use to describe Naples is: Cesspool. I don't say this to be demeaning to the residents of Naples, nor to sound snooty, but Naples really has some things that they need to fix before the status of the city gets upgraded, at least in my view. The two major issues were that traffic was bad (really bad!) and there was trash almost everywhere! To get to some places that we wanted to see (like the Catacombs) we went through streets that barely had any sidewalks. These were one lane streets that were two-way. Furthermore, there were many streets that were one-way, but somehow this rule didn't apply to motocyclists, so you needed to be on the lookout so no crazy person ran into you. The trash situation was quite bad. Initially I thought there was a strike (things like this happen in mediterranean countries), but no; no strike - that was just the norm. And, as it turns out Italy was fined because they failed to do something about the situation when the EU initially identified it as a problem.
There were some redeeming things about Naples, and the region, such as the food: The food was good! The pizzas that we had in Campania were the best pizzas I've ever had. One of the places that we went to was Antica Pizzeria di Decumani? I would highly recommend it.
The Museo di Capodimonte was also pretty great, and from what I understand they have quite a few well known pieces. Only one problem here: wings closed with no explanation! We just happened to be quite lucky to be asked by a couple of museum docents if we wanted to be part of a small group (2 people, maybe their friends) who were going through the closed wings to see the art. Had we not been at the right place at the right time, and had they not asked us if we wanted to join in, we would have missed out! The tour through the closed wings was too quick for my taste, but at least I got to see some things.
|Naples Garbage (everywhere it seems)|
I have to say that this was a mild disappointment for me. I was in awe of the size of the city which was pretty freaking huge for it an ancient city, but the novelty of walking down ancient streets really wears off after an hours or so when you feel like a modern creep looking into ancient people's houses from their windows. Why? Because not everything was open! There were 10 houses that were supposed to be open, but only 3 were actually open to be able to walk in and view. This was a disappointment. The villa of the mysteries was also mostly closed. There was a lot of restoration happening; maybe because those sites are in danger of losing their World Heritage status due to the fact that they weren't taking care of them. Finally, no free maps. When you got your tickets for the site, they had a big sign saying "no maps," they supposedly ran out. That said, there was a €2 map at the museum bookstore, that was really not that accurate.
Herculaneum, on the other hand was AWESOME! The city, even though smaller, was actually much more interesting to walk through, and there were more open buildings to go explore. If you combine Herculaneum with the Villa at Oplontis (Villa Poppaea), these two, even though smaller than Pompeii, they were much more impressive. I hope that Pompeii gets its act together soon, because I'd like to go back and be impressed :) The little that we saw of Modern Herculaneum we liked. Next time, if we go to the Campania Region, we are staying in Herculaneum!
While we stayed in the region we got an ArteCard (sort of similar to the Amsterdam Card) which gave us free access to all of the Archeological sites in the region. This was a good investment. There are a few types of ArteCards, so if you are interested in the archeology, get the Archeologia ArteCard.
As far as the Language went, I honestly had no idea what the hell people were saying. Granted, I haven't studied Italian in over ten years, but I didn't think that my Italian was that bad. It was later on in Rome when some Romans told us that they, too, have no idea what people from Naples are saying. That made me feel better ;-)
The hotel we stayed at was OK. No air-conditioning, but the included breakfast was decent. The biggest issue was no internet. You had to buy a pre-paid internet card (€1/hour), which wasn't a bad price, but considering that every other hotel we stayed in, both in Italy, and in Greece, and the Netherlands had included internet, this rubbed me the wrong way.
Finally, most people seemed nice (with the exception of the Psycho we encountered on the regional train). As I said, the food was awesome. I just wish we could get the food without Naples ;-)
|Villa of the Mysteries, Pompeii|