Almost all of the guidebooks and websites warned about less than ideal conditions in Naples. Pickpockets, kidnappings, shootings and general lawlessness seemed the most encountered terms in most write-ups. News footage on CNN of burning trash piles just a few days before our trip did not instill confidence.
There were air quality warnings for people with allergies – which wasn’t too encouraging for Audra who was recently diagnosed with a mild case of asthma. Still, like it or not we were going there. Songlines Magazine ran a focus article on some cultural offerings, so there was hope for us if we were in the right areas at the right time.
Alas, we were not. Our Naples experience, aside from the pizza, was a disappointment to all. More so to Audra and Kristy who saw it more as a means to an end – a junction box for our travels else where. I was disappointed because I have a thing for underdogs and really wanted to see some payoff to our visit besides a few pictures of garbage piles. There was also absolutely no time for exploration or family research. Each of our three experiences there (getting the ferry to Capri, getting a rental car for Positano, and returning the car for our flight to Sardinia) were all fast and furious, and none of them were very pleasant. Had we stayed there to take things in, I think we would have had a different experience.
As Audra points out, the corruption of past years and regimes has left the city and its people rather hopeless. There are signs of renewal, but the construction itself makes the city hectic at best – a least the part we saw, which admittedly wasn’t that much. While I didn’t feel unsafe for a moment in the section of town we were in, I was glad to leave, if only to cease the palatable distaste the others felt for the place.
I prefer to think of our brief time in Naples as more of a preview of something that could one day be a great city to visit. Just like any American city that can be much better if the people take pride in it, I think the Italians can make Naples a stop worth making rather than avoiding. But the people have to want it. That’s not to say there’s much to be done about the driving.