Thursday, November 3, 2011

Day 48: Naples, Pompeii (Nov 3)


Our overnight train from Venice had us change trains in Rome. When we got to Naples they were in the midst of a huge construction project right across from the train station. WARNING: Naples is notorious for pickpockets (and my dad had his wallet picked while on the bus our second day there), keep your stuff very secure in your front pocket and carry your purse over your shoulder across your body and zipped up.


We planned to spend 2 nights in Naples, but very little time in the day there. In Venice, I had booked a tour for the two of us to take us from Naples to Pompeii, give us a guided tour and lunch, take us to Vesuvius, and then drive us back to Naples. I pretty much just looked online for “naples pompeii tour” and booked from there, I’m not sure how I decided to choose Euroquest but that’s what we booked. They also have day trips from Rome (but see my recommendations at the end of the Venice section). The reason I booked a tour was so that we could have a guide. I don’t know if Rick Steves has an audio or book guide for Pompeii but if he does, I didn’t have it. If you want to save money, you can take a train from Naples to Pompeii, a cab from the train station to the old city, and a cab to Vesuvius, but since we were paying for a guide anyway, it was easier (though more expensive) to go the guided tour route. Our tour guide spoke excellent English and was very thorough; the only drawback is that when you’re on a guided tour, you’re on his schedule, not your own, so you only stay in one spot for as long as he wants and you only go where he takes you. We spent about 90 minutes in the city (I would have preferred longer so I could linger and wander, but we had a schedule to meet).

The volcano was a tough climb, about 30 minutes on a flat but sloped path; if the weather cooperates, it’s an amazing view at the summit (we unfortunately had some fog and clouds). Then we had about 30 minutes at the top, and 15 minutes down. The time at the top was based on when the van was going to leave to go back to Naples, which was when the mountain closed to hikers.

When we got back to Naples, we got our bags from the lockers and tried to figure out how to get to the hotel. With no internet, I only had a paper map and it didn’t look THAT far to walk, but due to the construction the taxis and bus schedules were all fubared up (if they even go by the schedules) so after waiting 20 minutes we decided to walk. Turned out we went the long way and it was about 1.5 miles of walking with our rolling suitcases down the city street, took us over an hour (and a lot of it was walking up hill). By the time we made it up to the room, we had to rest (mostly for my dad).

Fortunately the place for dinner was only a 10-minute walk. If you’re in Naples, you MUST go to Pizzeria da Michele, which is famous for being the place where they actually invented pizza. This is the classic margherita pizza with just sauce, mozzarella, and a basil leaf (red, white, and green, the colors of Italy’s flag). The pizzas are really cheap (4 euros) and they’re done in minutes – it literally spends only 45 seconds in the oven. Chances are there will be a line but it’s worth the wait.

(Originally posted 5/13/14 at 8:44pm, Houston)

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