I started my love affair with Italy in 2006 when I visited it for the first time as a chaperone on a student tour. The group traveled to Venice, Florence, Assisi, Siena and Rome. I immediately fell in love. I was in awe of the history and culture and actually fell to my knees at first site of St. Peter’s Basilica! The trip was one week long and it was during the week of Easter so I was spoiled seeing all of the festivities for the holiday and I even dragged six kids through a big crowd to get close to the pope! What an experience. That trip came to an end and I was infected with the Italian travel bug. Luckily for me I was to return to Italy three months later that year and stay for one month. My next visit to Italy included time in Venice, Florence, Rome, Pisa, Pompeii, Naples, Capri, Positano, Ravello, Amalfi and Sorrento. This particular adventure is where I became acquainted with the city of Naples or should I say became frightened of the city of Naples. Everyone told me not to visit Naples and if I did to be mindful of everything. You will get lost, you will get robbed, do not go out at night, do not look people in the eyes, do not take public transportation, etc… So needless to say I arrived in Naples and was scared to death to walk the streets or get in a taxi or literally to breathe!
My first night in Naples I went out to eat the most amazing pizza in the world and even though I was in awe of my food I was still nervous about my surroundings. We returned to the hotel and the next day walked around and visited the archaeological museum. The whole day I walked around with my backpack in front of my body and my whole self was tense. It was a quick visit before heading to the Amalfi coast and spending time on luxurious beaches. I continued to have a wonderful trip, but something stuck in my head always thinking about the city Naples.
For many years I was traveling to Italy every summer and I would visit the same places and always add a new place I had not seen to my plans. Each visit involved a quick stop in Naples before taking a train to another city or boarding a ship to travel to an island, but never just to visit Naples. Something intrigued me about this city and finally on one trip I spent a good amount of time no longer being an acquaintance with Naples, but developing a friendship. I spent time visiting many historical sights and beautiful churches. Naples was now becoming my good friend. During this trip I had one day that I did not know what I was going to do since I had to meet a friend but not until the evening. I decided to turn Naples into my best friend that day. I bought a book in the train station that was titled, “25 sights & experiences in Naples,” and I asked a police officer which train I could take to get to a certain place and I was on my way. This was one of my best life days! I traveled all over the city using trains, taxis, and my feet. I was in museum rooms all by myself with no tourists or security for hours with great works of art by Titian and no one was around me. People do not realize the collections that exist in Naples because there is so much negativity around visiting it. I felt like I was back in time living through the art. I respect museums and artwork, but I could have touched all of it and no one would have ever known. Some of the highlights of places that I visited on that day include Cappella Sansevero, the Duomo, Santa Chiara, Castel Nuovo, Catacombs di San Gennaro, Castel dell’Ovo, Palazzo Reale, Napoli Sotterranea and Certosa di San Martino. I explored all parts of this city and on that specific day I realized that Napoli is my favorite Italian city and my new best friend. I even bought a magnet that says, “I love Napoli” to prove it! So if people tell you to be scared of Naples or not to go there please ignore them and say ciao to my best friend!