Oh how I wanted to love Napoli. I wanted a dreamy week in the pizza capital of the world. I wanted to feel the ocean breeze while I sipped a crisp white wine. Basically I wanted an Italian Hawaii.
Napoli didn’t give a damn what I wanted. It wanted my money and it wanted me gone. Firenze welcomed me with open arms like we were friends forever. Napoli saw me as a nuisance, if it saw me at all. Nothing personal.
Napoli gives you no time to adjust. Walking out of the train station is like stepping into Walmart on Black Friday. You better have a plan of attack and you better stick to it. My original plan was to take a taxi to my room. I paused to check walking directions instead. Bad idea. Standing in place just made me an easier target. I was bombarded. Did I have spare change? Did I need a taxi? Did I want a phone? Did I want an iPhone? An iPad? Something!
Everything about Napoli is an assault on the senses. The buildings are covered in posters and graffiti, connected with wires, cables, and clotheslines strung like spiderwebs overhead. (The kinds you saw in the Hobbit.) Cigarette butts fill the cracks in the cobblestone streets. Motion is everywhere: people, cars, scooters. And they’re all loud. The people are yelling and the cars and scooters are honking. Could we just stop honking! All of this in a haze of cigarette smoke and vehicle exhaust. Within an hour I had asthma. (Napolitani don’t get asthma; it’s got nothing to offer them)
The shock was heightened by the fact that I was arriving from Firenze. People faint with Stendhal Syndrome because that city is so beautiful. Also, Napoli has no obligation to be everything I desire; I’ll be gone in few days and replaced by a thousand more. Cue Beyonce.
And this is what I wanted. I wanted an adventure. I wanted surprises. Not just a Disney Epcot version of Italy.
So I found the best pizza restaurant in the city. (I ate pizza every day.) I found amazing sculptures and frescoes and mosaics. And I tried their hazelnut coffee.
My airbnb host was delightful. People were friendly once I got past the tourist treatment. I talked to strangers at the coffee bar and on the metro platform.
I probably won’t go back to Napoli. But I’m glad I went once.