This site has had a bit of a re-vamp as the old layout did not suit a large number of posts, and slowly my posts numbers are increasing. There’s been a pause while I re-settle, as I am currently (attempting) to live in Naples for a few months while I complete an internship. The headache inducing, nine circles of bureaucracy that I have only scaled with the help and kindness of essentially strangers is something I will explore in the next blog post (once it is sorted and I can relax into reflection, though even then I plan a more formal ‘how to’ rather than re-living every minute) so for now the first post will be on Napoli living – first impressions. Suffice to say I seem to have landed on my feet by pure dumb luck and, while I wish I could say it was because of my ingenuity and efficiency, I am relieved none-the-less.
This is my second time in Naples, the first a five day holiday last year, and seeing it through the eyes of a short-term resident is definitely different to the city-break tourist. While the stress of sorting various forms and contracts has been exhausting, is has not been enough to mar all first impressions. A list of what has struck me most:
The traffic. How boring and obvious a first choice, but hearing it from my hostel room and dodging it all day and evening has meant it has left an impression. Beeping is common and loud, and somewhat useful on the tight small streets, and the mopeds transition between pedestrians and cars depending on where they feel like driving, traffic lights are more of a suggestion and the white lines on the road are not zebra crossings. However, despite the volume of traffic, they are well-used to pedestrians stepping fearlessly into the road and, ordinarily, stepping forward with intent is enough to get traffic to slow enough for you to pass. Of course if you hover politely, given that for once they are the only car on the road, this can lead to confusion.
The hills. Perhaps this one is just for me, but my beautiful current accommodation has it views paid for by a long hill and five flights of stairs.
The simple and straight streets. During my five-day stay these streets were a confusing whirl, but a week of wandering and confident locals showing me different routes has enforced how much simpler the geography of this city is. For the first few days I stuck mainly to the main road, being new, alone and unwilling at that time to get lost (I have since been lost twice, and know those areas better because of it) as most things could be found either on it or just off it (including Vodafone, my hostel, the Archaeological museum, two metro stations, a pile of clothes shops and, finally at the end, the sea). Of course once gaining confidence, the best things are on those little side streets.
The pizza is fantastic. The wine and Peroni is cheap. The coke tastes brilliant. Vesuvius is breathtaking. The weather is warm despite November rainfall. The dogs are plentiful. The people living in Naples are, for the most part, incredibly friendly and enthusiastic. The street performers are both varied and terrifying. The sea is gorgeous and sparkles in the bright sun, even so late in the year. There is pizza and focaccia for only a euro. There are little shops selling mini (fake) chillies as decorations and bottles and bottles of limoncello. Religion is everywhere and beautiful, even for an agnostic. The street sellers are full of ingenuity (at a spot of rain every street has someone selling umbrellas, and the local park has brightly coloured toys laid out right near the swings). If nothing else I can watch the reaction to the rain. For once I feel slightly less out of my element as the familiar patter falls around me, while the crowds shelter under umbrellas, bags, plastic, boxes and doorways.