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My Escapes Italy Naples, Islands, Pizza and Camorra! Naples My Trip to [...] Naples' Look and Feel, Moments [...]

Naples' Look and Feel, Moments and Musings

August 22, 2015

Naples' feel still lives vividly in my memory, even years after my trip.
Of course, it's dominated by the shady slumish areas, the dirty streets and buildings whose walls have turned brownish-grey.
Explorings its streets was adventurous and it often gave me the creeps...

Naples is a city that you can like and you can be terrified of it was well.

It's the surroundings that are most famous, but I didn't want to miss out on temperamental Naples either... they have great pizzas, but there's also the mafia - so make sure you tighten your belt!

Street in Naples

Beautiful Naples - one of my best shots

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Naples was an interesting destination, but I was often afraid taking simple walks, even in the centre.
It is dangerous, but it's also beautiful in its own unique way. There

These are my verbal ramblings, musings on Naples: the look and feel and other related things.
More than just the good and bad (I don't like the "black and white" mentality anyway) - the nuances, the atmosphere, the feel...

Take as dive with me as I dissect and analyze - if you'd like to see Naples, don't leave without my guide...

The Beauty of Naples and its Friendly Side

If you prepare for the worst, you can hope for the best. And you can enjoy Naples' uniqueness if you prepare for it.

The are lots of things to see not only within the city, but also in the area around.

My top Naples attractions article will shed light upon the best things to see in Naples.

Stunning view

Stunning view - Naples' beautiful side smiling down from the hills

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Guess where pizza comes from?

From the Campania region, where Naples is also located. Modern pizza was invented in Naples!

I loved the delicious pizza sold on Naples's streets.

Yet, original Italian pizza looks simpler than what's known as "pizza" in the rest of the World, this one's dough is a lot more delicious.

Naples pizza

Naples pizza - simple, yet delicious

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Old cities tend to have a number of old vehicles as well. And I'm a fan of vintage vehicles. Let them be cars, trams, motorcycles, boats, airplanes, whatever...

My Naples vehicle spotting times weren't very fruitful, but a very interesting vintage bus did pass me by - see below...

Vintage bus in Naples

Vintage bus (yeah, I know: it looks like a tram...)

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My funniest experience was spotting this multilingual toilet sign (photo below).

It was actually a paid toilet - from what I saw, it could be accessed through and Indian guy's shop (they could be making good money, it was in the proximity of the Castel Nuovo).

Multilingual toilet in Naples

Multilingual toilet... Oh, they forgot Italian!
Wouldn't "WC" or "toilet" be "international enough"?

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Besides the major attractions like monuments, historical places, you should also take the time to see the art-filled Naples metro.

At the time of my visit there was a lot of art "embedded" visible at the Universitá station (a result of reconstruction work), but it's not the only one...

And of course, I also enjoyed Naples' motorcycles... there are loads of them. It's true of entire Italy.

Motorbikes in Naples

Where would Naples be without its motorbikes? Where would Italy be?

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Naples has the reputation of being dangerous and being slumish - yes, that's true, but the elegance is also there. Rarely will you find the two together: elegant old architecture and shady alleys, poverty.

It seems like this city has seen better days...

Naples has a few main avenues along which you'll be able to contemplate the old buildings's elegance and perhaps stop at a cafe or buy a few slices of original Neapolitan pizza.

Naples elegance

Elegant buildings in central Naples

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Is Naples a city of contrast?

Only to some extent yes, but that's not what I'd emphasize.
Every now and then I was able to see a luxury car passing by - in contrast with the older, worn-down vehicles in the area.

Otherwise, in the areas of the main attractions I did not observe much contrast.

Colourful glass

Colourful glass bricks on the pavement

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Besides Naples, the city - there's a profusion of attractions in the area...

Just to mention a few destinations: Mount Vesuvius, the islands of Capri (thrilling, dreamlike!) Procida, Ischia, the towns of Positano (legendary) and Sorrento and the list could go on...

Scan the web for attractions in the Naples Bay area and the Amalfi Coast to find targets for your trip.

Mount Vesuvius from Naples

Mount Vesuvius is an active volcano just at the edge of Naples

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Mount Vesuvius is an active (sleeping) volcano. It marks the skyline if you stare out from a good viewpoint.

Yes, it's "hybernating" and no-one know when the "Great Vesuvius" will change its mind and erupt.

Should the volcano erupt, the entire city of Naples would be in danger. Much of the city could be wiped out. Let's hope that won't happen.

Mount Vesuvius from the port

Mount Vesuvius from the Molo Beverello port area (photo taken from Castel Nuovo)

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Besides Naples, I also traveled to the revered islands of Procida and Capri.

My Capri trip was the peak experience within this entire Naples area escape. Under no circumstance should you leave it out.

I've visited Procida, had no time for the island of Ischia, but I was initially planning to see the picturesque town of Positano, but due to lack of time I had to leave it out.

Capri in the distance...

Capri showing up in the distance... It's more than 40 km from Naples.

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Naples - the Dangerous Side

Naples slum

Slumish area, kind-of-like Caracas...

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Naples is an interesting city that I liked a lot, but felt goose skin whenever I walked on its streets.

The mob must love it. In fact, I think Al Capone would feel like a shark in the water in Naples.

When I was there, I felt a mixture of curiosity and an elevated sense of danger.

Naples has a bad reputation and it looks and feels like a place where you can get mugged, robbed or killed.

Yeah, I did look over my shoulders every now and then...

But that didn't stop me from wandering the streets - even the slumish parts in the dead of night (crazy me!).

On this photo to the left, you'll see just a "slice" of Naples' intriguing slums...

It made me think of some Latin-American favelas. Specifically, the ones in Caracas.

But it's not really "that bad", really...

Still, I wouldn't recommend any traveler to enter this area alone. I only "tasted" the edges.

Actually, Naples has quite a bad reputation throughout Italy. It has very high crime rates and there's tremendous poverty, vast slums...

Slumish blocks in Naples

Switching the angle: now you can see the bikes

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I heard northern Italians speak extremely negatively of the entire southern area - one Italian pizza seller in Rome went as far as telling me "...those people are crazy, they're not even like Italians...", which sounded shocking from an Italian's mouth.

Former Argentinian footballer, Diego Maradona once said "Naples is not Italy" - better look that up, he's quoted here in "The Guardian".

Seems like there's a lot of rejection regarding Naples, but I enjoyed my experience and had no trouble at all.

I've found locals very friendly and helpful, no offence to anyone. I enjoyed my stay in Naples and I'd love to return again in the future.

Still, I have to warn travelers: you do need to be extremely careful. Not because of people being "crazy" or anything, but because of the extremely high crime rate.

Vast areas seemed to have had strong slumish feel - right in the centre of the city.

Naples feels very dangerous and besides the Police and Carabinieri, they even pulled the Army onto the streets: soldiers with machine guns partolling here and there.

Don't be scared.

Narrow street in Naples

Narrow street in Naples

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They're supposed to scare the crooks, the criminals. I felt a higher sense of security in guarded areas.

There's strong contrast between southern Italy and the northern parts. No doubt about it.
It you're Italian, you know this best and, most Europeans know this too. But, if you're from outside Europe, you'd be surprised.

The north is richer and more industrialized.
The south is poorer (and all that comes with it, needless to emphasize).

To some analogies, we could say that if Rome is the capital of Italy, then Milano is the capital of the north and then Naples would have to be the capital of the south.

The south is said to be "wild".

Part of the reason is the fact the Camorra mafia organisation operates in the Naples area.
The Spanish Quarter is said to be under their influence.

Interestingly, the Camorra's history goes back to the 1700's...

There was an Italian film series called "La Piovra" ("The Octopus") - it ran in the 1990's and several continuations were made, as far as I know.

I can still remember its heavily drammatic (and a freezing scary) music theme...
If you don't know the film, you can listen to its music here on YouTube.

Carabinieri car

Carabinieri are almost everywhere

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...that music (if you listened to it), I could almost hear it when walking on Naples' streets...

But as said, you will see a lot of Carabinieri, polic and perhaps even army units in Naples. It's supposed to make you feel safer.

Avoid entering shady deserted streets and avoid walking in place where there are few people.

Buildings in central Naples

Love the lines of this view... But I can still feel the danger of the city just by looking at my photos.

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It's also important not to stand out with anything: don't wear "shiny" objects like an expensive watch, hold on tight to your camera and simply... look "cheap".

I'd also drop a link to my how to take care of your money abroad tips - you'll need it in Naples!

When you travel to Naples, safety must be your top priority.

Naples stray dog

Naples hyena. Just kidding: this is how big Naples' stray dogs grow.
Hitchcock would love 'em. Thank God this specimen was sleeping.

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Swindles, frauds are wide-spread, pickpocketing occurs almost everywhere. So, lock your backpack and avoid dense crowded urban transportation means.

Don't walk at night... yeah, I know I did (crazy me), but the experience gave me the creeps.

Speaking of "creeps" - the shady creeps walking the streets. Naples is full of them. And plenty of hookers.

Garbage on Naples' streets

Moutains of garbage were at almost every street corner... the garbage collector didn't pick it up

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What you see above is not considered "normal" in Naples. But when I was there, the local garbage collector was in conflict with the town hall and for some reason the former refused to collect the garbage.

So, the trash just piled up...

You can imagine the odour... Disgusting.

Naples dark look

Many buildings have this dark look...

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Even architecturally - if you observe Naples' buildings, you'll notice that many of them have this "dark look". It's because of the colours and the patina on the walls.

I like these buildings and I like the patina. Many cities would love to have this. This is not a bad thing, not necessarily.

I enjoyed contemplating Naples' uniqueness.

Luxury SUV in Naples

The rich are there too... luxury SUV in central Naples

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I've found that many buildings are painted in pale colours and dark colours like dark red, grey, mustard yellow, dark brown, crimson (this one's very popular)...

Naples has this strong vintage feel too. Which I love. It feels old.

But it blends with the dangerous feel and the filth that's on the walls and in the air. Nope, Naples is not clean.

Escape Hunter

About the Author:

Escape Hunter, the young solo traveler in his early 30's explores the World driven by curiosity, thirst for adventure, deep passion for beauty, love for freedom and diversity.
With a nuanced, even humorous approach to travel, an obsession for art and design, Escape Hunter prefers to travel slowly, in order to learn and "soak up" the local atmosphere...


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