The home of pizza had been on our wish list for years. I was a bit hesitant to visit because friends had traveled there and said they didn’t enjoy it. Reviews revealed there was some crime and described Naples as a gritty city. Because of our tight schedule we decided to only stay in Naples for one night. Our mission was get in, get some pizza, and leave for Amalfi. Arriving at 8 pm, it was dusk and our hotel was only a few blocks from the train station. Leaving the station, we immediately noticed some men following us. We walked briskly making sure to keep all our smaller bags and the children in the middle of us.
At one point we stopped to cross the street, and someone attempted to open the zipper on one of our back packs. He was unsuccessful in getting anything because my husband had tied them shut before we left the train. They followed us almost to the hotel but then left when we got near the door. It was a bit unsettling, but since it wasn’t dark yet and there were several of us constantly staring at them, I think they decided to look for easier targets.
Naples, like many larger cities, has many different neighborhoods. Some have been revitalized and have less crime. Unfortunately, most of the original pizza places are in the neighborhood near the train station. We wanted to try the oldest three pizza parlors but since it was August, and many Italians take that month off, one of them was closed.
Our hotel was in an old renovated building. Everything was bright white with cheery pops of bright colors, the cost of the rooms was the lowest we paid for any this trip and I was pleasantly surprised by the decor and interiors. I was also very happy that I had opted not to have all 5 of us in the room for one night. Our family suite had two rooms, but the full glass shower was next to the master bedroom bed, which really amused the kids. The toilet and sink were frosted glass but not much better for blocking out anything. My mom had her own single room across the hall and enjoyed a night of peace and quiet.
When we left for dinner that night, we left everything we could in the hotel. My husband and I normally travel with a few pieces of ScotteVest clothing that is specially designed for situations like this. The clothes have a ton of hidden pockets and most are only accessible from the inside of the clothes, to ward off pick pockets. He carried our passports, cash, and one phone all in his internal pockets. I also have a ScotteVest skirt, that has hidden pockets in the waist band. I guess without the luggage, we weren’t easy marks. No one bothered us on the way to dinner which was only a few blocks away. The pizza and other dishes were fabulous and despite the little bit of uneasiness I felt when we arrived, I was glad we added the stop in Naples.
Because of our minimal Italian language skills, we had to wait a bit for our sever. Our hostess told us a few minutes for an English speaking waiter. Ironically, when our waiter was sorting out our order, my husband asked him where he learned to speak English, and he said a place in America called Newark, New Jersey. Do you know where New Jersey is? We couldn’t stop laughing. He then proved for a fact that he had indeed lived in New Jersey for several years; he asked us what exit we were from, instead of what town. Spoken like a true New Jersey native!
Once the food arrived we dug in, and although it’s different than the pizza we’re used to in the US, it was delicious. You have to use a knife and fork because it is very thin and the amount of sauce is liberal. Many people in the restaurant had ordered a whole pizza for each person, and they were able to finish it. We could barely tackle two pizza and two small dishes of pasta.
No evening meal in Italy is complete without some Gelato, and we had the best Gelato of this trip in Naples.
The next morning we had a lovely full breakfast on the enclosed rooftop terrace. Originally we planed to go out for lunch to the other pizza parlor on our list, and then head to the Amalfi coast after picking up our rental car. After our second round of delicious pizza, Dylan requested that we stop in a few stores because he wanted some clothes from Italy. During the day I didn’t really sense anyone following us, and the streets were busy with both locals and tourists. One thing I didn’t realize about Naples, unlike most of Italy is that a lot of the clothes and accessories were very affordable. When my then 8th grader returned to school a few weeks later, he came home and said girls at school were extremely impressed with his new look. From that day on, our expenses for his clothes went way way up; he was no longer content to always wear athletic attire.
Shopping delayed us more than I had expected. It was getting late and I was anxious to get to Amalfi because we had splurged a bit on a nice ocean front hotel and I didn’t want us to lose anymore swimming time. Even though I had secured a car rental a few days prior online, when we arrived we were casually told our car wouldn’t be ready for approximately 3 more hours. I had a sinking feeling it would be longer, but after a checking a few other offices for availability and coming up empty I figured we would just have to wait.
**Tip Time ** If you’re ever in a situation where you can’t get a rental car, and trains or other transport is not an option, head to the airport if there is one nearby. My father taught me this years ago, and it must have laid dormant in my brain until I needed it. Airports almost always have extra supply for last minute arrivals. A quick cab ride brought us to Naples International Airport. My husband reserved a car en route using the agencies’ app.When we arrived a few minutes later they actually had 3 cars for us to choose from. Turned out our delay was fortuitous because after loading into a vehicle for the first time, we had more luggage than I realized.
One of the things I have not managed to do yet is learn to pack light, I’m better than I used to be, but could still use some more discipline to slim down the amount of bags. Finally we were off to Amalfi at least two hours earlier than we if we had waited in Naples.