Naples is not for the weak of heart or those unwilling to be adventurous! It is raucous, dirty, vivacious, exuberant, fast, furious and fabulous. I love it! I think it is one of those places that will draw extreme opinions…love or hate. Nothing in between!
One of the oldest inhabited cities in the world, maybe they have it all figured out. It is not like the larger Northern cities in Italy, Rome and Milan, and not like any place on earth as far as I can tell! Naples historic center is listed on UNESCO’s world heritage sites. In World War II, Naples was the most bombed Italian city. In the 20th century, much of the periphery was constructed under the Fascist government of Mussolini. Today, Naples has developed a large business district, a high speed train network to Rome, and a subway system, that when completed is planned to cover most of the region.Since Naples is in the South of Italy, I couldn’t help drawing many comparisons with the South of the US where I am from. Fried foods, beautiful produce,the friendliness of the people, going barefoot in the streets, the heat, spicy foods, and speaking with a distinct “accent” all seemed in line. We stayed near the train station, and as in most cities in the area near the train station, it was “colorful”. I remember the first time I went to Naples in 2006 on a tour. The tour director was very adamant that we not wear any jewelry while there in order to eliminate the risk of theft. It is true that Rolex watches are the prime targets for armed robbery in Naples, so if you have one, don’t wear it. Every Italian will tell you that Naples has the most crime of any Italian city. Putting that in perspective it is low to moderate compared to most US cities, according to the US Department of State. Yet, as I perused the travel sites, it is all that Americans talk about! Interesting! Naples is the birthplace of the Camorra, a mafia type organized criminal ring that dates back to the 16th century. As a tourist, this is not something you should be concerned with anymore than you are concerned with it in the states, where they also operate. We did manage to catch a glimpse of The Godfather at a little place where we stopped for a beer. He had the owner bring out all of the receipts and book keeping and did his own accounting. Check out the ring!
While in Naples, we visited the Archeological Museum, a must before you go to Pompeii, and walked the streets with Rick Steve’s walking tour to read and see the other sites. On this trip, we never made it down to the sea, which I am sorry about, but that will have to wait for next time.The photos of the city speak best for themselves. I personally can’t wait to go back!

One Comment on “Naples

  1. I wrote this little family dinner essay below some time ago…My father’s parents, and my aunt and uncle, came from Naples. They settled in Cleveland Ohio in the early 1900’s. Her maiden name was Rodriguez (uncertain about spelling). In the 1500’s the King of Naples told all the Jews being thrown out of Spain that they could escape to Naples if they would covert to Catholicism. I have a Spanish Skull & Crossbones crucifix that belonged to her. SMU Museum of Spanish Art carbon dated it for me and it is authentic 15th century. I love to hold it in my hand…soaking up the centuries of history, and all the hands before me that created and have held this beautiful little piece of very old history. AND…she married a Siena. Also around that same time, Jews in Italy changed their names to the name of the city they lived in, to avoid persecution. And yeah…I know about the Mafioso…a cousin died a tragic early death when “the brakes on his car went out” One of their favorite ways of offing somebody who wasn’t behaving. I heard about how Sal (Salvatore) had died, but the family never ever, EVER, said a word about it. Until I saw The Godfather!!!

    I have been to Siena several times, and I LOVE it!! But Naples…my brother told me not to waste my time there. It stinks, he said. And I actually listened to him. 😉


    My fondest memory of holiday dinners were the family feasts at my Aunt Jo and Uncle Ed’s house. Everyone in the family, from the littlest kids to the family elders were all packed around the dinner table. And all talking and laughing at the same time. We started with the antipasto, then platter after bowl after heaping tray passed around the table for hours. And of course, wine with every new offering. But my favorite part of the meal was not at the table (although it was there I learned to love Italian cooking) it was later in the day. When the meal was finally over, the boys went out to play, the girls and women cleaned up the dishes, the men went into the living room to drink port, smoke cigars and listen to scratchy Caruso records, weeping at the beauty of the Great Man’s voice. Then, when the house was back in perfect order we all gathered around the piano, singing arias from opera and traditional songs from the old country. I never could carry a tune, but how I loved that singing. It day was full of great food, family love and beautiful Italian music. We sang till dark, leaving then in a flurry of hugs, kisses and pinched cheeks. Who wouldn’t want to go back one more time for a day like that?

    From: giovanna carispat
    To: Ginnie Siena Bivona
    Sent: Thu, July 22, 2010 10:24:29 AM
    Subject: Re: [RC] STJ #009 – Author – Dinner at Aunt Jo’s, a treasured memory

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