Crapoli farewell.

Posted by on 13, Apr 2023 in 2023 - Sicily and Italy, Europe, Italy, Tilly the Tandem

Crapoli farewell.
Naples Castle
Armed guard at Naples Cathedral.
Naples Cathedral
Egyptian mosaics
Underground cisterns
Naples Lorenzo underground Roman city
Shopping centre
Naples Marina overlooked by Versuvius
Arrivederci Italia….

About 25 years ago we came to Naples in our MG…. And hated it!  The traffic was horrendous (but almost certainly far less than now) and we spent a day in our hotel peering out of the window trying to figure a good time of day to leave.  So we weren’t really looking forward to coming back to this UNESCO site.

Our first impression wasn’t great.  Actually getting in on the cycle path (shocking that there was one I know!) Was an on off affair to avoid the parked cars but it did run to the front door of our apartmemt.  The one way 4 lane road outside was constant gridlock, due to the double parking and cars driving over raised curbs to go the wrong way up it past police ignoring them. What on earth do the police do here? We’ve seen babies on the laps of drivers, multiple children in the front seat with adults, virtually no one wearing seat belts, constant use of mobile phones, ignoring red lights – and I don’t mean an amber gambler. Women putting their eye liner on, kids actually driving, double parked, treble parked, cars parked in the traffic lights, on the cycle paths, pavements, going the wrong way up one way streets and roundabouts are utter chaos – like everywhere else, traffic on the roundabout has the right of way, oh not here they don’t. Fortune favours the brave (or reckless) and you just don’t make eye contact and carry on and see who has the strongest nerves.

On Sicily (where we thought they were crazy) they at least all stopped at zebra crossings to let you cross as soon as you got near them. Here they won’t stop if you’re on them unless you block their path. No eye contact and plough on!  In fact if you do get a stream of people crossing the road on one, then cars will get fed up and start trying to push you out of the way by moving forward, to within an inch of your legs whilst people in the cars behind hoot.

Of course what this all results in is traffic crawling hooting and crawling some more. No one let’s you in, it’s insane and everything is slow as a result of it.  A bit of courtesy and obeying the rules and it would all move far more smoothly.

But we’ve reached the conclusion that Italians (at least the Naples lot) only care about themselves.  On busses and trains people normally won’t get up to let someone elderly sit, doors slam in your face and people barge into you on the street rather than turning a little to pass. The streets are tatty and building fronts have little or no maintenance, whislt you look inside the bars, shops and houses and it’s a different world , with modern designer clean fantastic interiors.

So, we may be biased! But having moaned all that, there are some fab things to do here. The Lorenzo underground city was even better than Pazzouli with much of the Roman streets and houses complete up to roof level and the archeology museum was my favourite museum of all time. A great building and the exhibits from Roman and Greek sites were incredible.  Many looked brand new, some statues had been found still standing overgrown in abandoned bath houses and still looked pristine.

And there was the Greek mosaic exhibition where you had to don paper shoes to walk over a dozen complete mosaic floors whilst looking at the incredible Greek pots. Fab-u-lous!

There is also some lovely buildings dotted around the city with the Galleria Umberto being magnificent and housing the poshest McDonald’s we’ve ever seen. The castle sea front area has been completely changed since we last visited and almost made pedestrian – and it’s soooooo much nicer for it.  It’s about the only place in Naples you may hear a bird and the roar and hoot of traffic becomes a background noise instead of the normal ear bleeding cacophony.

So we won’t be sad to leave and had easyJet started their schedule before the 1st April we’d have left by now, but as it is we are on their first flight out of here!

But for our last full day we went off to our last Roman ruin – Piscina Mirablis. The largest roman cistern in the Empire sits at the end of a 135km Augustan Aquaduct, which runs around Versuvius both over and underground. It’s an incredible feat of engineering and the enormous size of the cistern is incredible. It’s as tall as a cathedral and a similar in size at 15m deep, 72m long and 25m wide, holding 12 million litres of drinking water. It is essentially fully intact apart from missing the covers for the access holes on the roof and some plaster on the walls. Breathtaking.

However, getting there was the fun bit! The buses here are frequent and go everywhere, but finding which bus goes anywhere, where you buy a ticket and where the bus stops is the interesting part.

You don’t buy tickets on the bus, but at a tobacconist. But only some of the bus companies sell them through the tobacconist, and after getting into a nice routine buying our tickets on the morning each day we tried to get them to go to the Piscina and were redirected ironically to…. The joke shop… who didn’t sell that companies tickets and didn’t know where we could buy the ticket.

So we winged it and waited for the 101 bus to Bacoli. Naturally an unnumbered bus rolled up and we asked if he was the Bacoli one and he said yes! Fab, did he sell tickets? Yes again! And so he drove off, and fished a ticket out of his pocket, charged us €3.80 found change whilst driving with his knees and paying little or no attention to the road as he cut across lanes to the usual hoots.

The way back we had to stop 2 unmarked buses and ask if they were our ride home and the 2nd was. To be fair to him, we’d just failed on the first bus, went to a different bus stop to try there and were reading the timetable when he hooted at us to see if we wanted to get on. Very kind of him. This time it was a similar knee steering experience and €5.80. Both sets of tickets had the fare printed on them clearly, so I assume the drivers are just as confused as the passengers about the tickets and prices.

So finally, with Tilly packed we set off for the airport with our taxi driver set on making it a trip to remember as we hung on for dear life as he hurtled along as if he was in formula 1, weaving between the traffic at break neck speed, squeezing through bum clenching gaps that didn’t exist and accelerating and braking violently every few metres. It was the most terrifying taxi ride of our lives and also quite appropriate as it summed up our feelings about the roads and drivers here and left Linda wanting a double brandy for Breakfast…!

Looking back over the last 2 months, Sicily was our favourite part for cycling, but really we didn’t enjoy much of the cycle anywhere in Italy. The Roman and Greek sites have been fantastic and some of the towns and cities have been gorgeous. The food, pizza, pasta and of course ice cream is great and never the same, especially in Sicily and the people have generally been lovely (unless driving of course). The rubbish and driving  is mind blowingly terrible and had we done the trip in a car, no doubt our experience would be completely different, but cycling here, don’t bother…….

Next please…..

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.