Naples is the flower of paradise. The last adventure of my life.
– Alexandre Dumas, French writer
We were sorry to leave Roma, but we were excited to see Naples, or Napoli, as I have never been to this city by the sea. It was about a two-hour drive from Roma to Napoli. One thing that made me a little nervous was Rick Steves’ words to describe Naples – “gritty” and “criminal.” He meant to let tourists know that they should be aware of their surroundings and all would be well if one were watchful. He also reported that 30 percent of the residents are unemployed. Well, our first foray into the Napolitano world was a very bumpy ride into the city and roads filled with crazy drivers who paid little heed to marked lanes. When we hit the main road and the first stoplight, a group of men converged onto the street and two men began washing and wiping the windshield of our car. Needless to say, we didn’t pony up, but we did drive off with one of our windshield wipers sticking straight up. Luckily, while they weren’t happy with us, they weren’t aggressive!
We can joke about this now, but our GPS was not so much as unreliable as the streets were difficult to navigate. The streets, most of them under repair, jogged right and left. In our attempt to get to our hotel, the Majestic Hotel, we ended up going down a one-way street the wrong way. I give David a lot of credit for not losing his cool, even as the two cars heading down the right way were quite impatient with us. As David backed out the car to the end of the very narrow road, we wondered how in the world we would be able to maneuver the car back on the very busy main artery without getting hit from behind! An angel smiled down on us in the form of a truck driver who took pity on us and directed traffic so that we could safely be on our way. We ended up driving around the main part of the city three times before we were able to turn right into the correct narrow street that led us to our hotel after turning right and left and left – coming full circle to the general vicinity of our hotel, meaning near the sign that pointed to our hotel. Instead of the GPS getting us to our hotel, we relied on an elderly Napolitano gentleman who was hanging out on a street corner to point us in the right direction.
By the time we got situated, the day was nearly done. We only had time to take a leisurely walk from our hotel via the walkway along the shore in our attempt to find dinner. We opted for an outdoor restaurant that sported a view of the bay. Given that it was a Friday night, many locals were out, strolling the walkway and enjoying a late dinner as well. It was Sofia’s 20th birthday, so we toasted to her new decade. It was a nice way to end a quite entertaining introduction to Napoli. Tomorrow we have a full day packed with a hike to Mount Vesuvius and visits to Pompeii and Herculaneum!