My first opinion of Naples was that it was too loud, too busy, had too many people, too many unpleasant odors, too many motorcycles, too much graffiti. This was my first opinion. To put it mildly, I was overwhelmed by the city of Naples the moment I left the train station. Our opinion of Naples now is W O W ! Everything that initially was so overwhelming became fascinating, exciting, and so much fun. Once again, I have learned — don’t judge a book by its cover!

The train

Other than the short trip to Pisa from Florence a few days earlier, our first train experience was our trip from Florence to Naples. Before we left home, I prepurchased our two assigned seat train tickets at an approximate cost of 145€. The train station, Florence Santa Maria Novella, named after a nearby church, is one of the busiest train stations in Italy. Perfect place for us to get our feet wet with train travel, huh?

We were generally confused and wandered around lost when we arrived at the train station by taxi, but after asking for directions to our train platform, we got it together and made our way to the correct place. We had a pleasant experience once we got on the train. However, it was a pain to cart all our luggage through the train station and then carry it onto and store it on the train. I do believe I’m spoiled.

B&B Visconti

We spent four nights at the B&B Visconti in the historic district. The B&B sent a wonderful guy to the train station to pick us up. What a funny story that is now. Not so funny at the time, though. There were a zillion cabs and cars outside the train station, and I didn’t even have the name of the driver that was picking us up, much less know what type of vehicle he would be in.

You would think that with all the notes and outlines and information I compiled for this trip that I would have recorded who, what, and how someone was picking us up, don’t you? This was definitely a travel mistake. I do not want to repeat that mistake. We wandered around at the train station door for a long while, hoping to see our driver magically appear.

I decided to call the B&B and let them know we still needed to be picked up, and that’s when I saw the 7-10 missed WhatsApp calls on my phone. Finally, I called the number back, realizing it must be our driver or the B&B. It was a video call, and the driver kept insistently telling me to look at my phone, but no, I kept waving my phone around so our driver could see our location at the train station.

Finally, I looked straight at the screen, saw his face, he saw my face, and the driver, our new hero, walked right up to me. I could not for the life of me understand why he would want me to look at my phone! Fortunately, he did not treat me like the moron I had just proven myself to be and graciously took our luggage and walked us to his car. We did enjoy our drive with him; he was an entertaining guy and full of information.

I regret that I cannot remember our driver’s name, but he quickly delivered us as close to the B&B as he could. The streets were that narrow! We walked a quarter of a block dragging suitcases over cobblestone to the gated entryway. It did not look as I expected, and I just knew we had to be in the wrong place.

My old lady, comfortably suburban, self was alarmed by the noises, sights, and sounds all around me. What had I done? This had to be a mistake. It turned out, though, that we were in precisely the right place, at our B&B where we should be, and it was a fine place to stay. Today I can say we were fortunate to have had this great experience, and I am happy we spent this time at B&B Visconti in Naples.

I am trying to ditch that old lady, comfortably suburban self; she’s not much fun. We managed to get around on foot during our entire stay in Naples, except for our one Hop-on-Hop-off day.

Luggage being hoisted to 2nd floor by a pulley

Our luggage was hoisted up to the second floor B&B by the pulley winch system shown in the picture above.  This method was something I’d never seen before, but it got the job done.  We had to get upstairs to the B&B on our own steam, no pulley for us, just a lot of steps.

A delightful young Russian lady named Anastasia greeted us at the top of the stairs and helped us get settled in our small but clean and tidy room. Just before we headed out onto the street for the first time, Anastasia gave us a historic district map to help us get around.

She identified and marked the map to indicate museums, shops, and restaurants; even told us which foods would be best at a particular restaurant and suggested which restaurants to avoid because the food would not be good. Anastasia is the perfect ambassador for Naples.

We ventured out into the crazy street with our very personalized “Anastasia map” and had the best time discovering this historic area. 

Naples Historic District

You cannot ignore the coarseness in the streets of old historic Naples, but you can’t get hung up on that. Naples is a magnificent ancient city full of kind, generous, giving, and friendly people and enough history to make your head spin if you look past all the chaos and grime.

After the initial culture shock, I felt perfectly safe and comfortable walking all over this part of the city. We wandered through churches, ate unfamiliar but good food, stepped into a few shops, met some interesting people, and felt at ease on the street.

One of our favorite pastimes was sitting at an outdoor cafe drinking coffee and people watching. There were some sights to see!

National Archeological Museum in Naples

Our most important box to check here was a visit to the National Archaeological Museum, one of the world’s most significant archaeological museums in the world. The museum was just over half a mile walk from our B&B. Here you can find artifacts from all over Italy, including the Farnese sculptures and other Roman and Egyptian antiquities.

Also on display are prized art treasures from Pompeii and Herculaneum, which would be our next stops and were of particular interest. The museum also contains a special room containing erotic art from Pompeii and Herculaneum. 

Naples Coastline

On one of our last days in Naples, we boarded a hop-on-hop-off bus that took us to what appeared to be a completely different city. We drove along a beautiful coastal road with very nice homes, shops, and restaurants all around. It was night and day from the old historic district!

We got off and on the bus a few times, stopping at a park once to track down a geocache, which was great fun. A gentleman working in the building where the geocache was, became curious about us walking back and forth in front of his business and came out to talk to us.

Once we explained what we were up to, he spent some time explaining the history of the area we were in, and we enjoyed a great conversation—another reason to love geocaching.

Catacombs of San Gennaro

We got off of the hop-on-hop-off bus at what I think was the end of the line; the Catacombs of San Gennaro. This underground burial and worship site was a remarkable place. Services continue here today. The Catacombs dated back to the 2nd century AD and were expanded another two centuries later.

Our guide told us a curious story about San Gennaro, the patron Saint of Naples. His remains were buried in the catacombs during the 5th century, stolen in 831 AD, later moved to another location where they remained for centuries. The remains were returned to the city of Naples in 1497.

Pedestrian Street in Naples
Pedestrian street

We did enjoy our time in Naples. We met some interesting people in shops, on the streets, in restaurants, and for breakfast at our B&B. A young Scottish couple on holiday and two elderly twin sisters from France were also guests at the B&B for a few days.

I am reasonably confident I single-handedly avoided an international incident when I diverted the conversation my Texas husband and opinionated French ladies entered into regarding politics. I could tell from the stern looks on the ladies’ faces that this would not be a good conversation unless all were in total political agreement.

I very clumsily changed the topic to flower gardens, and I saved the entire world! They were lovely ladies, and we had great conversations that were not related to politics.

Our time in Naples ended too soon; a whole additional week would have been wonderful. Anastasia at the B&B arranged for the same gentleman to drive us to the train station, and we managed to get on the correct train, this time headed to Pompei. Naples was an eye-opening rich experience.


13 thoughts on “Naples

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  8. You’ve just put Naples on my bucket list!

    1. Naples was an eye-opening place for me and I know you’d have a great time there. So much history!

  9. Love how you did a turn around concerning the initial shock to your senses. Sounds like the people made a big difference. You are convincing me that one needs several days to say “I was there”. Great blog. Thank You.

    1. Thanks, Vaun. Naples was most certainly an example of culture shock but we did really love the place before we left. The people we meet always make the difference.

  10. This is an interesting trip! Thanks for Sharing! Would love to visit Naples!
    Really liked reading how you’ll handled the little problems on the trip.
    Traveling in a foreign country can be scary, and I find reading on other’s experiences helps me prepare.
    Also the Bed & Breakfast you stayed in sounds wonderful, my kind of place.
    Thanks again! If possible can you add a map of the city and location of the Bed & Breakfast?

    1. Thank you, Earney. It was a great city, in spite of little issues we had. Naples itself is a fairly huge city so I don’t think an online map would be very helpful here. The B&B was in the heart of the historic district with narrow streets heading in all directions and I have attached a Google map link to where the B&B was.,14.2466918,17z

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