Napoli, the Region of Pizza, Ruins, and Gypsies

19 Nov

Ever since first learning about Pompeii, the city of ruins preserved by volcanic ash as an elementary student I have wanted to go to the historical site myself! So once I brought up the idea to my travel buddies Emery and Sarah they were immediately interested, unfortunately Sarah couldn’t make the trip, she was otherwise engaged with a previous trip planned for the same weekend to Paris with her Aunt (I suppose she can be forgiven)!

So It was just Emery and I off to Napoli! luckily when we booked the tickets we had chosen to go first class (Mom Dad, relax before you go ahead thinking that all my money has gone towards springing for comfortable train ride accommodations you should know that it was actually the least expensive option available at the time). So Emery and I enjoyed our very relaxing three hour train ride in our large leather reclining share while noshing on complimentary snacks (which included amazing rosemary crackers) and drinks!

Of course before heading off to Naples I had been warned by many local italian friends as well as my overly nervous father (although he might be hesitant to admit this) that the south of Italy was a bit more aggressive in comparison to the rest of Italy. Unlike the wealthier zones of Italy, such as the cities in the Center and North of Italy, the South has a reputation of having a lesser economic situation, never the less meaning that more crime take place there. It was clear to see the difference by looking out the window on our three-hour train ride from Firenze to Napoli. Gone were the beautifully constructed buildings and charming Tuscan streets lined with apartments buildings which looked like they belonged in a movie and instead our view was now replaced with that of a run down city. I was also warned to be weary of the Gypsies which creatively scam unsuspecting tourists by pickpocketing and taking their money. Of course though I wasn’t too worried, I’ve been living in a city for the past few years where I assumed there were just as many scam artists looking for money, plus I have been living in Firenze for the past few months which also has a fair share of seemingly innocent and desperate gypsies of it’s own. However, I wasn’t prepared for just how many Gypsies there really were in Naples and the lengths they would go to. It was typical on a hour train ride between cities to see 10-12 Gypsies propositioning residents and tourists for money, they’d play music and walk up and down the train carts stopping every few feet for a few minutes to stare with their sad big eyes into the face of a train passenger, no doubt pressuring them to give them money with their “hypnotizing” music and sad face. As if that wasn’t bad enough many of the Gypsies had their children with them (an ideal marketing ploy) and would make their very young children go up and ask for money on their behalf. It was a terrible thing to witness and I couldn’t get past the image of small children giving up their childhood for the hard life of a beggar.

So although going to Naples came with a lot of previous warnings I had also been told some very wonderful things about the South, mostly in relation to the delicious food and of course the Pizza, after all Naples is the birth place of Pizza. The italian food that we have grown accustom to in the USA is typically from the Napoli Region, as most immigrants came from this region.

With the previous knowledge we had about Napoli, Emery and I opted to stay in Sorrento, although a bit more touristy of an area it also had the reputation of being a lot more safer (we couldn’t argue with that)!

After a bit of confusion (of course) we were directed to the regional trains headed towards Sorrento from the main train station located in Naples. After waiting for thirty minutes for our train we were relieved to see that it had finally arrived. We lugged our suitcases on top the train with us and settled down exhausted into seats. Suddenly Emery looked panicked. “why isn’t that couple getting on this train” she asked in a nervous voice. There had been an american couple that we overheard talking about going to Sorrento as well. I don’t know I said, too exhausted to care and dreading the idea of getting up and having to stand again. Suddenly before I knew it Emery was standing up “does this train go to Sorrento” she shouted to no one in particular, we were met with a unison reply of no’s, immediately we ran for the door hoping to get off before the doors shut. Luckily we made it. We than waited another half hour for the correct train which  we were positive was headed to Sorrento because of the illuminated sign and the fact that the couple also got on. An hour and twenty minutes later we found ourselves in the charming and cute town of Sorrento which was outfitted with christmas decorations (I guess when you have no in-between Holiday like Thanksgiving, there’s really nothing holding you back from decorating.

After checking into our Hotel we ravenously searched for a place to grab a bite to eat, of course our hungry state may have clouded our ability to do adequate research (restaurant searching) but at last we settled on a seemingly cute trattoria, serving up inexpensively priced pizza (perfect). Surprisingly for the so called birthplace of Pizza, they didn’t have too many options, but hungry and happy to be seated we were in no mood to argue or search for another option. There was one pizza in particular that stood out to the both of us, it contained chips, pancetta, and onions (anything with pancetta aka bacon and I am bound to be a happy camper!

We found the idea of a pizza with french fries on top quite hilarious but it just happens to be quite a popular pizza topping here in Italy, in fact I have seen it quite a few times at various pizzeria’s throughout Italy. The Pizza was pretty delicious….no doubt terrible for you, but hey whats life without a few bad decisions.

We spent the day touring around the city, we also took a much needed nap. Then it was off to dinner, this time we took the time to walk up and down the streets stopping at just about every restaurant to read the menu. At last we decided on a very charming restaurant with a delicious selection of choices!

We decided to order two entrees and split them, we went with the clams sautéed in a garlic infused white wine sauce sprinkled with parsley. It was delicious and fresh (after all the water is only minutes away)!

We also selected the roasted chicken served with roasted potatoes..classic!

That night we went to bed early in preparation for our busy day in Pompeii the following day.

Saturday we got an early start, once in Pompeii, we elected to spring for the audio guides to be sure we were listening to the most accurate and most informative information.

Emery and I were both under the impression that going to pompeii would be like going to a small museum, we assumed we’d see some of the ruins for a hour or so and then be on our way to climb Mount Vesuvius. Boy were we wrong, Pompeii, is a city, which means the entire city is part of the exhibition. We started off very excited and energized, we listened carefully to all the detailed explanations and looked in each exhibit which consisted of former piazzas, houses, markets, there were even casts which accurately depicted the exact facial expressions and positions of the people during the eruption.                                                  (The man with his hands over his face)

After a three hours and a much needed snack break, we decided that possibly seeing everything wasn’t nearly possible, in fact many exhibits were closed (but we admit we were a bit thankful for this as listening and touring each property became quite tedious. After pushing on for another hour we finally turned over the exhibit diagram to see a recommended route to take to see the most popular items (of course we had wasted time visiting just about every site in the beginning and we were now too exhausted to continue on). We decided that after four hours of walking we had enough! Although Pompeii was very interested it was very exhausting. We had spent so much time in fact at the site that we had missed the final bus headed to Vesuvius, however we were quite content to sit on a train back to Sorrento and finally get off our feet.

That night after much relaxing and regrouping we headed out to find another pizzeria this time offering up “traditional fare” we found a great little restaurant crowded with hungry people. I decided to go with a class Marinara, simply tomato sauce and basil, a little olive oil, and garlic (NO CHEESE) but I asked for a little sausage on top, fearing it would otherwise be too bland! It was quite good, the crust was thin and cooked well done, in fact it’s quite similar to the Neapolitan style pizza I get in my hometown of New Haven!

All in all it was a great trip, but very tiring (in fact I am still out of commission)!


3 Responses to “Napoli, the Region of Pizza, Ruins, and Gypsies”

  1. Our Adventure in Croatia November 19, 2012 at 7:32 pm #

    sounds like a great trip, I was in Sorrento +Naples + Pompeii many moons ago and I have fond memories. The first pizza (with chips?…) must be a fairly new invention in Italy (probably since the days of McDonalds…) whereas the last picture looks much more traditional (although the crust looks rather burnt….) 🙂

    • La Cucina Di Kait November 19, 2012 at 8:49 pm #

      Pizza with chips…was sure interesting. The more traditional pizza was good but cooked well done!

  2. Julia O neill November 25, 2012 at 8:06 pm #

    Hi there! I’m at work browsing your blog from my new iphone 3gs! Just wanted to say I love reading through your blog and look forward to all your posts! Keep up the great work! Posted by

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