I woke up to beautiful weather on the Saturday, and walked around Naples for the whole day. The markets were interesting, and I was intrigued by the open air food stalls. One seafood shop was below an apartment and they washing hanging directly over the fish which I imagine would leave the clothes smelling particularly bad. I saw a wedding procession through the narrow crowded streets, with guests walking ahead of the fancy cars that announced their arrival with horns tooting, before the bride arrived at the church to the song ‘Here comes the bride’ blaring from loudspeakers. I saw a car with an open boot full of large ferns in pot plants spilling out of the rear of the vehicle, and scooters galore with most often two or three people astride the little seat. Sometimes they wore helmets, sometimes they didn’t. Those that did often had a phone shoved halfway into the side of the helmet to talk as they rode, while others simply held the phone to their ear. Sometimes there were groups of three friends on the scooter, laughing and talking as they rode, while other times it was mum and two kids – one standing in front and the other clasped on behind. To cross the street in Naples you just have to walk out and keep walking – and it took me a while to remember they drive on the opposite side of the road to Australians, so the childhood rule about looking both ways before you cross the street became particularly important! The drivers zoom around you and your chances of not getting hit are better when you allow them to navigate their course, rather than you trying to navigate around them.
I went to the information centre hoping to get some basic info on where to go and what to do, but all that was offered was a city map and ‘Hop on, hop off’ bus timetable. The map was marked with little icons for sights to see, so I made my way around those. I did visit the Museo Cappella Sansevero, which contains the ‘Veiled Christ’ marble statue. It was interesting from an artistic point of view, as it was quite realistic looking and did make you want to touch the ‘veil’ to see if it was really made from marble. I got the local bus to Mergellina, a little south west of the centre of Naples and along the water, and pursued a halting conversation with a lady who sighed and looked wistful when I said I was from Australia. She gave me a ticket for the bus because I hadn’t found where to buy them on the street, and she told me it was from the ‘Tabacci’ shops. These ‘Tabacci’ shops are kind of like milk bars back home, as they sell a variety of everything, including cigarettes.
I made my way along the waterfront to the Castel dell’Ovo, a castle on land that jutted out into the sea, upon which was built a small marina. Taking photos with yourself in them becomes a skill when you travel alone, and can often be a good way to meet people. A couple from Northern Italy saw me doing this and offered to take my picture, to which I gladly agreed – if only to speak English for a little while. They were really nice and in Naples for the first time themselves. Anytime I heard a snippet of English I’d be drawn to the person/people because it was the only time I got to talk to someone who spoke the same language. Even the hostel I was staying in seemed deserted, so I spent most of the day talking to myself for company 🙂
I tried to say the basics of hello, thank you and goodbye in Italian, but even then I got stared at and look upon as if I was not worthy of their time. I found the people in Naples to be rude, aggressive and not at all welcoming. Granted I was there on a weekend and the weather was poor, however I was taken aback at the hostile feel of the city. I was warned by two women and an elderly man I asked directions from to watch my bag from thieves and pickpockets, ‘Attenzione, attenzione’, while pointing to my bag, and I figured for locals to warn me the situation must be pretty bad. People are trying to sell you stuff everywhere you go – fake name brand handbags, sunglasses, scarves, umbrellas and even socks. I had one guy follow me up the street for about two minutes insisting I look at the socks he was selling, even after I said no a number of times and kept walking. The hassling reminded me of the markets in Africa, and I’m sure they are similar to those in many other countries, but seriously, I’m certainly not going to buy something because you pressure me into it.