We arrived around 5 pm to Naples where our Airbnb was located close to Castel Nuovo and the ferry docks – extremely central. After over 2 months of being around each other almost 24/7 we decided to do a night on our own. So while I watched chick-flicks at the Airbnb Drew explored the Spanish Quarter of Naples and after snapping a photo here and there he stumbled upon a small bar that was overflowing with people. It was so busy because an Aperol Spritz (a very common cocktail in Italy made of Aperol liquor, Prosecco, and soda) cost only 1 euro. There were also promotional Aperol girls passing out swag – Drew got some sweet sunglasses and made friends with two French girls.
The next day we slept in – we needed the rest after constantly being on the move and then took it easy catching up on blogs and email so we didn’t get out into Naples until after lunch. Our first stop was lunch, which was gelato – hey we are in Italy – no judging. Plus it is rumored that gelato was invented in Naples so you HAVE to try it in Naples. While enjoying our gelato we walked towards the Toledo metro station -Drew had seen photos of it online and had to get his own shots. We ended up having to purchase tickets in order for Drew to get the pictures he wanted – that’s right we bought metro tickets and didn’t go anywhere but just to take photos (luckily they were only 1.1 Euro each).
On our way back towards Piazza del Plebiscito we heard some pretty amazing opera singers and when we found them we were surprised to see two elderly men in a window roofed mall – their voice definitely sounded bold and strong! One of the things I really wanted to do in Naples this time around was go on a subterranean tour, which is what we did next. There were only four people on our tour but we had a lot of fun because our tour guide was absolutely hilarious. The Naples underground was initially built as a Roman Aqueduct . The aqueduct was built to feed the Roman forces nearby and the Neapolitan people got the benefit. At this time most people had to go to the town well or river to get water but every house in Naples had at least one well of their own in their home! Because it was an originally an aqueduct there are some really small crevices that we used as ‘passage-ways’ and our tour guide had to keep checking that Drew was making it through by yelling ‘Little Boy – Yoo Hoo – Are You Coming Little Boy?’
Our tour guide did have a serious side though and he told us about how during World War II Naples was bombed more than any other city in the war so the citizens took shelter in the aqueducts. Neapolitans had previously enlarged the aqueducts in early generations when they were mined for tufa stones to build houses. He showed us bathrooms they built down there, graffiti and that some people spent many months (they used the walls to count like one would do in a jail cell). It was an amazing walk through history and a bonus benefit was that it was nice and cool down there – we’d definitely recommend it!
When the tour was finished we had planned to head to the Palace but we ran across a Pride parade and decided to follow that for a little bit until the pushing got too intense. Our final stop of the day was to Brandi’s Pizzeria which is credited with the invention of the Margherita Pizza (named after Queen Margherita and made in the colors of the Italian flag). After all that pizza we decided to walk along the water and we were surprised again by a private fireworks show over the water (I was VERY surprised and jumped at first but then we both enjoyed it).
On our second day in Naples we took a half-day trip to Pompeii. The last time I went to Naples our family friend Cruz took me to Herculaneum, which is a city that was destroyed during the same Vesuvius explosion as Pompeii however it is much smaller. Both cities were amazingly preserved and have beautiful frescos and mosaics from the Roman period and I might even go as far to say as Herculaneum is actually better preserved because there are way less tourists traipsing around it. There are also no crazy tour guides in Herculaneum (I did an audio guide on my own last time) conversely touring Pompeii without a guide is highly frowned upon – our tour guide threatened to call the police on some people trying to go around our tour without a guide!
Both cities had well preserved homes, Roman baths and restaurants. There are a few really interesting things that Pompeii has though that are unique. The first is that it has a massive gladiator training facility and the second is that it is a well-preserved theatre.
Another difference is that Pompeii has a really well preserved brothel – the frescos there are definitely a site to see! Drew spent a little too much time in the brothel and had to be coaxed out by our tour guide – he said he was waiting to get photos – I’ll let you decide whether you believe him. He also got a picture of a Roman period sign showing where to find the brothel.
The final difference is that Pompeii has some of the people that were buried in ash from Mount Vesuvius (the ones in Herculaneum are all in a museum) and this was particularly moving.
After our tour we walked from Napoli Centrale to historic Naples and stopped in a square for lunch. One of the things that is very unique to Naples is the driving – it is absolutely insane and within minutes of arriving Drew swore he was going to get hit by a car and while that didn’t happen we did witness a car crash involving a police car while enjoying our lunch! Another thing that is unique to Naples is Christmas Alley – it is an alley composed entirely of shops selling Christmas decorations – especially nativity scenes. Neapolitans LOVE elaborately made Christmas nativities and the shops are open all year long.
Drew wasn’t happy about the prospect of more walking so to take the edge off I took him by a limoncello distillery where we got to see how it is made and taste regular limoncello, creamy limoncello and meloncello!
Back at the house Cruz stopped by for a visit and to drop off a care package from back home – big shout out to Cruz and my mom for helping us out! Also it was a blast to catch up and for Drew to meet Cruz.