Naples is a place of extremes where everything that is Italy comes crashing together, art, beauty, ugliness, culture, grand living, poverty, history and humanity. It is an exciting place. It’s been a place that I have only touched, a fleeting visit over the years to the Museo Archeologico on the way to Capri or the Amalfi coast.
So it came that when I went to visit the Mitoraj installation in Pompeii I would stay over in Naples a few days. Arriving at Stazione Centrale is not for the faint hearted but nothing to be afraid of. One thing I have learned in travelling is exude fear and you will attract trouble, walk confident, be aware and you will be respected.
Autumn/winter is the perfect time to be here. There are barely any tourists, mainly travellers, there is a difference. The weather is perfect, fresh and the skies blue. My hotel was close to the station for practical reasons, what once was a grand palazzo now a very comfortable and grand hotel. Inside an oasis of calm outside a whirlpool of life, with people from all corners of the world mixed in with the Neopolitans. It is the old historical center. A wonderful place to be.
That night I dinned at Ristorante Mimi alla Ferrovia, a few steps away from the hotel, it all looked dangerous outside it was not. I felt perfectly safe. Mimi is an institution, you can tell, from the dinner jacketed waiters to the Clientele, generations of Neopolitans that have dinned here practically every day. The regulars don’t bother with the menu they know what they want the waiters know exactly how it should be. Delicious food and an elegant old world interior.
Naples is for walking and getting lost, it is a place of extremes. Once the largest and grandest city in Europe you still sense that power. Awe inspiring churches, grand palazzo’s and public buildings stand shoulder to shoulder with crumbing apartment buildings at the base of which there is a swirl of life, Via dei Tribunali with it’s fishmongers, butcher’s, bakeries and all sorts of shops selling religious kitsch to things you would never want. It is life.
The other side of town to the north and near the harbor is Via Chiania, an aperitivo at the elegant Gran Caffe Gambrinus across from Teatro San Carlo, the streets around Via Chiania a world apart from the old centro storico.
Vormero high above an accessible by funicular lovely for strolls around elegant streets. Naples seduces it is a wonderful place.