We arrived in Naples by train which only took us 1 1/2 hours.from Isernia on the 25th August.   I was a bit apprehensive about booking a hotel next to the train station but it was ideal. A lovely hotel with great staff and with double glazing, no noise from outside.

The station is very modern with a lot of shops and a good tourist information counter.

We were wondering about the saying “See Naples and die” the first night we were in the city. A Pizzeria that has been operation for over 50years was given a good write up so we thought we would try it. We caught the metro (the most ancient station and train we had come across) to Piazza Cavour. When we came out of the station we thought we were in Calcutta only with several layers of graffiti on every building. It was a very poor area with every nationality living there and a lot of people milling around  the streets amongst the piles of uncollected garbage. We perservered however and found our way to a wonderful little pizzeria in the middle of it all which was a hive of activity with people waiting for take aways. The service and the food was excellent and after our fortnight of dieting we treated ourselves to antipasto, pizza, dessert, mineral water and a litre of wine all for 23euros!

On Sunday we caught a tram and got off at the end of the line which happened to be on the coast outside the cruise liner and ferry terminal. There was a large dead rat on the side of the road and a sour smell of garbage but as we got into the more affluent area the odours diminished and you could smell the sea and the fresh air.

We had a lovely long walk (about 6hours) all along the beautiful bay of Naples past The round towers of Castel del Ovo and up into the Chiaia area which is a very affluent part of town with designer shops and upmarket appartment blocks and maids in frilly aprons wiping down the outdoor furniture on the rooftop terraces. It was like something out of a Grace Kelly movie!

We found the Piazza Plebiscito with the wonderful buildings of the Opera house and Galleria Umberto closeby. We found a great clothing shop and decided because the sales were on to stock up on jeans and shorts. I also bought a lovely pair of Italian made shoes.

I don’t know whether it is because of the “crisis” that everyone is talking about but the service in every shop and of everyone of whom we have asked questions has been excellent and friendly.

We went to another recommended trattoria close to the station for dinner which we found was closed for holidays so went to another little one close by “Da Peppino” which served good food and wine.

There are still many people who are quite short especially around Naples . I felt like a giant around a lot of the women and men.

The mafia is alive and well.  About a week ago a  Neapolitan Mafia boss (who had his fingers blown off setting up a bomb years ago) was coming out of the sea in Terracina (which we had visited a couple of weeks ago) when two men approached him and shot him ten times.

The next day we decided to go to Sorrento on the “circumvesuviana” train which only took an hour. We walked around the town and enjoyed the beautiful views along the coastline.

We caught the train back in time to meet Ruth Lotero (one of our long lost Lutero cousins from the USA) who now lives and teaches in Sezze (where our grandfathers were born). She very kindly came down to Naples on the train to meet us. I had met three of her brothers in the USA a few years ago when she had already moved to Italy. We had a nice lunch and chat about the families and Ruth showed us several pictures of her side of the family, some of whom bore similarities to the relatives in Italy and Australia. It was great to finally meet her.

After Ruth left on the train back to Sezze, Maurice and I caught the tram again to the ferry terminal and walked to the funicular to go up the hill to “Castel St Elmo”. This was an even more affluent area with lovely avenues of trees and escalators to take you up to the various streets on a higher level. The castle is enormous and the views were to die for! A spectacular 360 degree view of all of Naples and it’s bay. We arrived there after 4pm and received free entry and there was virtually noone else there so we had a good wander around and marvelled at the views. We caught the funicular back down the hill and then strolled the streets. We stopped at another little trattoria and had a bite to eat.

We decided to explore the historical centre of the city the next day and wandered along the narrow but very interesting streets with countless churches, one more beautiful than the next along the way. I found a lovely Italian made dress to go with my shoes!

We have ditched a few of the old clothes to a worthy recipient on the street and should still be within our luggage limit for our flight to Ireland via London.

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