Elliott Fienberg

Memories of Napoli

In 2017 I was traveling for six months, and I wrote extensive travel journals about the experience. I like to revisit these and share them on the blog. To receive more updates by me, make sure to sign up to receive the newsletter Banal Moments.

Here is my entry regarding Napoli (dated March 30th, 2017):

I concluded my time in Italy going a bit south to Napoli (Naples). It was here that I had the chance to taste one of the world’s most authentic pizza, but also gave me the chance experience what is probably the nuttiest city in Europe alongside Lisbon.

There are motorcycles and scooters blasting around every corner. If you do your research you will see that Naples is a centre for organized crime which has you on-guard for pickpocket, scammers and drive-by-shootings.

It is also not a very tourist-friendly city… for example getting to the nearby Pompeii is a major pomp-pain-in-the-ass which was an experience that ended up spanning two days for me. Getting my shuttle bus to the airport involved about 8 different instructions from various people on the street (they moved the stop and no one knows where it is).

But the chaos of Naples and it’s non-tourist feeling made it one of my favourite stops in Europe. It is just an authentic place.

Oh the coffee in Italy. I thought I was experiencing European coffee culture until I got to Milan. The hosts of my AirBNBs were all brewing espresso using the stove-top method which they taught me.

Naples had tons of cafes were you sit at the counter, order your espresso (which they give you with a small glass of soda water), and then you go on your way. There is no such thing as take-away coffee in these places. I think it makes for a more social atmosphere amongst the people and their baristas.

Looking back on my trip which featured stopovers in dozens of cities, I found that for some reason the few days in Napoli to be a memory that I keep revisiting. Which is funny, because most travellers avoid the city.

I think it speaks to the idea that perfect cities, and by extension people, are just not interesting. They might hold your interest for a period of time, but cities that have a level of risk involved are the places that will leave a lasting mark.

If you think about a saw, yes a physical saw, it cannot cut anything unless there are grooves in it. Every high point needs a low point to truly leave an impact.


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