On our last trip to Italy, we spent the first day with friends in Umbria, and stopped in through Naples for a quick trip on to our main destination of Ischia (island in Bay of Naples).
It took about 4 hours to arrive to Napoli by train from our quick time in central Italy, and by the time we got there it was well into the afternoon. Our only prior visit through the city was just to continue on to the Amalfi coast, but even finding our way around Stazione Napoli Centrale was bad enough. Although I'm quick to say that you can't judge a city by the train station, as most cities' worst parts happen to be around that area.
I was a bit hesitant to check out this city without much planning or previous research - plus, not knowing anyone there didn't help much either. Most people would either say that they avoid it at all costs - or that it was a 'must-see' city. There tended not to be a moderate viewpoint.
Gritty. Dirty. Chaotic. Disorganized. Dangerous. Sketchy. Traffic.
These were the words of warning.
Pizza. Real. Tasty. Pastries. Espresso. Unorthodox beauty. Colorful.
These were the words of encouragement.
People have said that if you like Italy as far south as Rome, then go further south because everything just gets amplified. But if you're feeling like you're reached your limit in Rome, then stop.
I definitely love Rome, and have visited Sicily (Italy's most southern part) - and can say that up to this trip Palermo had been the most dramatic of all the Italian cities I'd visited.
But Naples topped that for me. Not so much in a good way - because I enjoyed Palermo a lot more - but just in the fact that it seemed to be to me a culmination of all the Italian drama, chaos, traffic, and food - all in one place. In somes ways this was good, but in others not so much.
We got checked in at a nice and simple hotel not far from the station so it would be convenient for us arriving and then catching a bus to the port the next day. Immediately walking out to the streets we were hit with the massive motion of everything - people, cars, motorini, buses. But then we found a bar to take a quick refuge - and to see if the rumors were true: that Naples had Italy's best coffee.
And, as it turns out...they did! Not only the best coffee, but some of the best cuisine. Pizza, pastries, and fried snacks...hey, not saying any of it was 'healthy' cuisine by any means!
We stopped by a museum, wandered the streets of the "Spaccanapoli" district, relaxed in a few squares, and dodged many a motorini.
Our short 2 days and 1 night in the city turned out to be just enough for me. I'm sure we missed plenty of sites, but I felt like we got a feel for the craziness that is Naples, and besides being sad about leaving the tasty food behind, I was quite happy to be heading to Ischia.