Naples and The Essence of Travels

Pretty much translates to, Me : I’m in Naples Friend : Wow, be careful of your stuff.

Naples is a reluctant destination for me, a night in a city I’m not eager to spend but one I had to since I had to fly out very early the next morning. I didn’t even try Pizzeria Sorbillo and found myself unable to write any Naples city guide, however there is an important lesson that I have to tell you.

If you’ve done a bit of reading, then you’d know that Naples doesn’t have the best reputation. Sure, Naples probably has the best pizza in the world (d’oh, it’s the birthplace of pizza!), amazing views of Mount Vesuvius, with Sorrento (damn, have you seen those lemons in Sorrento? It literally is as big as your hand) being a ferry ride away and it is actually a very, very old city with super rich history. Unfortunately, safety issues (pickpockets! scam! organized crimes!) loom over all those interesting things about Naples, it can deter people from visiting and some end up skipping this city altogether. Including me, almost.

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Every train ticket machine warns me to beware of pickpockets. You know it’s serious when a friend of a friend, who is an Italian, warned me about Naples being dangerous. Thanks for reassuring how safe you are, Naples!

Coming out of the Naples train station, I put on my mean face, made sure I didn’t wear any valuables, that my backpack was closed, that I didn’t keep more money than I need in my bag, then we waited for the bus to take us near our Airbnb. I later found out that the area around the train station was indeed not the best neighborhood to be in and yes, I could tell. There were few armed authorities and people were more alert.

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Five, fifteen minutes passed with many buses zigzagging in front of us, but none of it would take us to where we needed to be (the same thing would happen later when we wanted to go to Via Toledo). Instead of spending the whole day waiting for buses to arrive (like Jakarta, it also has really bad traffic), we spent the day walking the city through many areas and found that it’s just like any other city with few shady-looking neighborhoods but otherwise, it was just any other day traveling in Italy.

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I would say this city is on par, in terms of petty theft, with bigger cities like Rome or Paris. I would even go further and say, I feel safer in Naples at least during my stay. Of course, you have to employ common sense when you travel with valuables no matter where you go. You can be in Tokyo, dubbed as the safest city in the world, and still lose your things (*wink wink*). Give Naples a chance to break free of its undeserving bad reputation!

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Milan has Galleria Vittorio Emanuele with its posh shops, Naples has Galleria Umberto I with its street performers. Guess which one I prefer.

Naples is crazy, chaotic, dirty at times, although given some time Neapolitan pizza may change my mind slightly, it still isn’t the most beautiful city for me ; but I learned a very important lesson. Naples taught me the essence of traveling itself, that “to travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries”, a quote by Aldous Huxley. If I got discouraged for every time someone told me not to go to certain places, I never would have gone anywhere. If you were to judge a place before ever seeing it, wouldn’t you just read travel blogs from the comfort of your home?

It is important to travel without prejudice and rather with an open mind that makes traveling interesting, personal, and addicting. So the next time you hear someone tells you not to go, listen to them – but never truly believe, not until you have finally seen it yourself. Then, and only then, you can have your say.

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Mount Vesuvius, which as you know, erupted in 79 AD and buried Pompeii under ash for hundreds of years. See, how can Naples NOT be interesting?

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Until next time,

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