We hop on Mickey D’s wifi with a coffee and get our bearings in Naples. Looks like we’re a 15-20 minute walk to the central area where most of the things to see are (Seems that’s the standard distance from train station to city center everywhere we’ve been).
“There’s a place called Pizza Hostel?” “Sounds like a hostel after my own heart.” “Looks cheap and central.” “Triple whammy.” “Alright, let’s do it.”
I book a room at Pizza Hostel, plug in the coordinates and plot a route. We leave Rotten Ronnies and walk across the quad of the train station towards the main road. First impressions are somewhat on the negs. There are huge piles of garbage everywhere and folks around the station look sketchy af.
“Well… So far this looks like the dumpiest place we’ve been to yet.” “Ya weird. Wouldn’t have expected Italy to be the most rundown spot of the trip.”
We make our way through the city and into some narrow alleys with tall black stone buildings. This blocks out the sun and any sort of view and the exhaust fumes linger in the tight spaces. The garbage piles on the side streets and corners continue and are a disappointing eyesore. “Not what I expected.” “Yeah, me neither. And not like other places I’ve been in Italy at all.” “Let’s find Pizza Hostel and see where the nice parts of town are. There’s gotta be nice parts of town, right?” “You’d think so.”
It takes a while before I’m even interested in taking a picture. And this is it, I guess… Sheets
Pizza Hostel ends up being a tricky spot to locate and we’re looking at our little blue dot going up streets and backtracking. Finally we see a sign that leads us up another narrow alley and into a building. Another sign directs us up some dark stairs by some windows and awnings in disrepair. We spot the hostel sign over a doorway and step in to investigate.
There is a cappella music playing over scratchy, blown out speakers. A long haired Italian lad with an animal print dress shirt is sitting at the front desk enjoying it. He looks up, smiles, and welcomes us to Pizza Hostel.
He’s a soft spoken, pleasant fella and gets us checked in quickly. Seems like a bare bones operation here. He walks us over to a room and opens the door. It’s a dorm room with 4 bunk beds and a single. “Oh, I think I ordered a private.” “Ahh, yes but all of the privates are taken now. Sorry. But you can have this room to yourselves and it will be cheaper than a private anyways.” Exchange a glance and a shrug with MacKay, “Sure man. That’ll work.” He nods and gives us an incredibly long wifi password on a piece of paper. 32 random, camel-case characters.
We pick two out of the 9 beds in the room and toss our bags on them. Take a minute to look up some nearby castles and squares to explore and I put on some of the last clean clothes I have to ramble around in.
“You get a key?” “No. Good point.” We go back out to inquire with Front Desk Guy. “There are no keys. But it’s ok, we’re here 24/7.” “Ooook.”
We go back to the room to grab stuff before going to explore and MacKay echoes what I’m thinking. “Soooo can’t someone go into the room, take all our valuables and just walk out?” “Ya, exactly what I was thinking.” I grab the only two ‘valuable’ things from my bag: passport and Narcopiggy.
There are some interesting murals around the common area
We head back down the dark steps and out into the claustrophobic streets. When things open up into some larger main arteries and squares there’s a military guard presence with armored vehicles. Trash everywhere. Busted tvs and furniture in the mix. Piled high.
MacKay is shaking his head, “Man. This might be the worst place we’ve been this whole trip.” “Ya, so weird. Armed guards? Maybe there’s a high terrorist threat or something.” “Doesn’t account for the garbage…” Sucks that this is his first impression of the country. “Maybe they’re on strike? I dunno. Dude, I’ve been to Italy multiple times and can assure you the other cities are not like this.” “Hope so. Where to?” “Castel Nuovo.”
We beeline for the Gulf of Naples towards the castle. This takes us through a somewhat nicer area. “Tourists. We must be around something.”
We come across some more open square areas and restaurants but keep trucking towards the Gulf. Unfortunately this takes us directly into what looks like rush hour traffic around a main thoroughfare by the water. It’s a wall of nonstop horn honking noise. You can feel the tension in the air from the drivers in the stalled traffic.
We skip just passed it to the coast and wander through an old amusement park that looks to be closed. It’s shitty and creepy. But in the distance is something huge and impressive looking. Castel Nuovo, built in 1279 over just three years. We quicken our pace towards it.
Yep, this is awesome. It’s closed at the moment for restoration, but we can walk around. We go right up to the main entrance to check out the gate. No one around really either, which is nice.
Guess that’s about all we can see here. Still super cool though. What a unit.
“Well that was sweet. Head to the other castle? It’s just down here.” “Sure.”
We get back to the street and it’s still a horn honking mess. “Again. So glad we didn’t drive.” “Ya, not dealing with the narrow streets, this nonsense or border crossings with a car is kinda nice.”
It seems we did find the nice part of town. This area passed the castle is all restored buildings, museums and statues. We get a reprieve from the traffic noise, the atmosphere opens up and things start to relax. There’s a garden greenspace here by the water as well. Ok, Naples, ok ok things are looking up.
“Ahhh is that a statue of Stalin with a bunch of blood graffiti on it?” “Kinda looks like it, but there’s no way.” We get closer to inspect, “Says Umberto.” “Guess Umberto’s not too popular.” “Ya, this is nuts.”
Further into this section of town there are nice hotels and fancy restaurants. We get down by the docks and there are a slew of boats moored up.
We find a long, well lit walkway down to the other castle we were looking for Castel dell’Ovo. Yes, Egg Castle. These are the oldest fortifications in Naples.
Little tidbit from Wikipedia: “The castle’s name comes from a legend about the Roman poet Virgil, who had a reputation in the Middle Ages as a great sorcerer and predictor of the future. In the legend, Virgil put a magical egg into the foundations to support the fortifications. Had this egg been broken, the castle would have been destroyed and a series of disastrous events for Naples would have followed.”
Maybe the egg broke and a garbage tsunami hit the city?
It’s nice down here. Glad we made the trek across town. Way better vibe.
There’s a pier off the side of the castle here that looks like it has decent restaurants and bars with outdoor patios on it. Good lighting and mood. Quiet and not too crowded. Did we find Naples sweet spot?
“This looks fun. Wanna do a cocktail investigation?” “But of course, Monsieur.”