Saturday, 12 November 2011

How I fell in love with the historic centre of Naples

{ Naples, Italy - May 2011 }

I have a confession to make. When I was planning the trip to Italy, I did not plan to go to Naples. We finally decided to go just because we wanted to visit Pompeii, and wished to break the journey from Rome. Even then, I was apprehensive and reluctant. I had reservations about the city after reading about the gritty, dirty city. However, there is the food that I have heard so much of, and so I thought that the food and Pompeii should be more than enough reasons for us to spend a day in the historic centre of Naples. 

Stepping down from the train, and walking from the station to our little Bed and Breakfast in the historic centre, the main roads were filled with garbage and there was a massive strike happening on the main road. My apprehension grew the longer we walked and I remembered that I just wanted to be in the B&B, away from the crowd. When we reached the outside of the B&B just off the main street in the historic centre, Spaccanapoli, my spirit sank even more looking at the unkept facade of the building. 

Once I stepped through the door on the second floor, and into the massive room with the high ceiling, I exhaled with relief. I loved the high ceiling, the huge window and the massive room. I later learned from the owner of the B&B, Fabrizio, that all the homes in the historic centre have high ceiling. As the buildings are so close to one another, the streets are narrow and packed with people. So, they build their homes with high ceiling to give themselves lots of space in the comfort of their own homes. I loved it.

And that was just the beginning of how I slowly, and unexpectedly fell in love with Naples.

  

Walking down the historic centre, on the narrow main streets of Spaccanapoli with tall buildings on both sides, we started exploring one of the most ancient cities in Europe. The city may be ancient, but it was very much alive. The locals were loud but friendly, the energy infectious and the pace frantic with scooters and cars zooming passed the narrow streets. It was chaotic, but I loved it. Call me crazy, but I even found myself looking at the laundry hanging all above the streets, thinking just how delightful it all were.

  

Amongst the chaos, there were shops selling many nativity figurines and scenes (called presepe in Italian) and even more on Via San Gregorio Armeno. Figurines of footballers, presidents, singers, and prime ministers stood amongst figurines of Jesus and shepherds. Many of the shops looked like they have been around for years, and seeing that they sell mostly the similar items, I wonder how they survive. Of course, I supported them by buying some items from them.

  
  

I loved the vibrant and exuberant historic centre, and I have not even started on the food.

::: Footnotes :::

{ Hotel PalepoliThe small Bed and Breakfast that we stayed in is Hotel Palepoli. The room was huge with high ceiling, breakfast was served in the kitchen, and the owner, Fabrizio, was friendly. Located on Vicolo dei Maiorani 29, right at the Spaccanapoli, the location is perfect as a base to explore the historic centre.

{ Historic Centre of Naples } The historic centre of Naples is a UNESCO's World Heritage Site.


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