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Sunday, 12 September 2010

InteRailing for Glampackers

September 7th Bologna to Naples

The futuristic Frecciarossa express shot us across Italy 300 miles from the north to the Mediterranean in just under 4 hours stopping only at Florence and Rome and once again we had an easy seat reservation in first class using our InteRail passes and just a nominal €10 reservation fee.

Naples, the birthplace of pizza, is fast, furious and fun and a little over exaggerated on the crime front in my opinion. Yes, there are lots of people and the possibility for petty crime is there for all to see. You just need to be aware, don’t flash around any fancy jewellery and stick to the main streets. In other words, be cautious as you would in any major city. That said, the bay dominated by the towering visage of Vesuvius is simply stunning, and the pizzas are delicious by the way.
The old city is a warren of narrow streets and by day is well worth exploring. There is a church seemingly around every corner. The city stretches upwards into the high bluffs and taking the funicular is an experience, but there’s also an efficient metro system and plenty of cheap buses.
We stayed up high in the embassy district at the Grand Hotel Parker’s, once used by the American army during the war as their HQ. Today it is a five star hotel with a roof terrace offering a fabulous view of the whole Bay.
Naples is the best place to base yourself if you want to visit Pompeii, Vesuvius and Herculaneum. Just a 20 minute train ride away, the famously preserved Roman sites offer an amazing glimpse into how ancient families lived out their lives before Vesuvius exploded and changed their lives forever.
The cities are incredibly preserved even down to the chariot ruts in the stone roads. They both met their demise in different ways, which makes is what makes them so interesting. Pompeii had hot ash and smoke rain down on it whilst Herculaneum was buried in mud ensuring its organic matter like wood was perfectly preserved. They both simply have to be seen. It is well worth buying the services of one of the numerous guides that will build up a group of ten for around €10 each.

Naples is good value by Italian Mediterranean standards and you can eat quite cheaply in many of the local restaurants. Out favourite was Di Matteo, a pizzeria in the old town. No nonsense service and great food, but after 9pm you might be lining up in the street for a while.