Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Napoli by the Sea

Piazza dei Martiri near the hotel

We are no longer gainfully employed, but  the equivalent of business trips remain in our lives. For example, our passports were about to expire, so we went to Napoli to renew them at the American consulate there in person as we do not trust Italian postal service for sending such important documents (to tell the truth, we weren't all that confident when we applied by mail in the USA). Our distrust was a good excuse to check out Naples, so off we went by train to mix business and pleasure.

Napoli, on the Intercity train, is a 2 hour 10 minute journey normally, but for the second time this year, our train was stalled for 30 minutes in the area just south of Battipaglia. At least on the way in, we were lucky to sit out the extra time in good seats. On the way back the train was on time but we got the seats where you face each other (or strangers). Very uncomfortable.

We found a 4 star hotel within walking distance (1 mile/1.6 km) of the consulate which is located on the shoreline about 2km north of where the large ferries and cruise ships dock. The hotel Palazzo Alabardiera is a 10 minute taxi ride from Stazione Napoli Centrale. At €150 a night, it was typical for a large city quality hotel. We have since learned of a hotel very close to the consulate, but further from shopping. One must have priorities! Taxi stands are all about in case you don't feel like walking.

Castel dell'Ovo

There is a nice park area on the lungomare. Our one bad experience in Napoli was being gouged as foreign tourists at a bar there. We bought our normal double caffe’ macchiato and a gin tonica and they charged us €10,60 compared with €4,60 around home. They also used cheap Italian gin for the drink. Italians are good at some things, but making gin is not one of them. The drink was left behind.

Consulato degli Stati Uniti d'America

The American consulate sits near the sea. It has Italian military guards outside with a belt-fed machine gun, and private Italian security. After 5 years of dealing with Italian bureaucracy, this place was soooo nice and efficient. We were in and out in 20 minutes and served by a humorous American man who joked about a man from Cleveland and a woman from Chicago living in Calabria. We’ll return in about 2 weeks to pick-up the passports that are sent from the USA.

We didn't know there were hills on the northern part of Napoli

A Greenpeace boat anchored offshore

The return walk to the hotel through the shopping area showed us many stores to look into in the future. We both were exhausted and figured it was because of all the dodging of motorini on the streets and walking on the rough stone pavements. On yet another visit, we might try the historic district with its underground tunnels, etc.

The hotel is situated off main streets, so is pretty quiet. Although there is a restaurant/pizzeria within 50 meters (where we had a pizza--because we were in Napoli!), we only spotted one other restaurant in the time we were there. That is surprising as most Italian cities seem to have restaurants every 2 blocks or so. Anyway, the hotel is in the middle of the famous CHIAIA shopping district for those into shopping for upscale clothing and shoes. We might take more time to shop when we return to get the new passports.

FYI, the historic district of Napoli is between this neighborhood and the stazione. There are cheaper hotels nearer the stazione including (God forbid) a high rise Holiday Inn!

Oh, contrary to all you hear about Napoli being filled with bandits ready to pick your pockets or steal a purse, at no time did we see or sense anyone paying us the slightest attention on the streets. Another urban myth--or do we finally not look like tourists? However, the traffic was as bad as people have said.

Ciao a presto, Guido


A church almost every 3 blocks

Residences in the Chiaia District


  1. Hi!

    Nice pictures from Napoli! I
    understand why you were pleased with your hotel choise but 150 E is a little bit expensive for our budget.
    Coming as tourists to Italy we often stay at small family hotels. It is cheaper and since the hotel owners do not like
    to speak English we get plenty of opportunities to practise the Italian language.
    To learn more Italian I am also struggling with an italian blog.
    Gunnar _

  2. Thank you Gunnar. Forgive us - is your main blog in Swiss German or another language? We save money living in Calabria, so when we travel we like to use the better hotels for comfort. We always speak Italian with the desk people and usually they will stay in Italiano with us. Here in Calabria, very few people at hotels or restaurants speak English so our Italian at those businesses is mandatory Thanks for the comment.

  3. Hi

    I have my main blog in Swedish but I am trying to learn moore Italian with my second blog which is in Italian. my Swedish blog is on: http://gunnardeckare.wordpress.com/ and my Italian on: http://gunnarsbookshelf.wordpress.com/
    Please feel welcome to comment any of my blogs in Italian or English.

    Talking of comort there is one thing that my wife is complaining about and that is the hard madrasses in most Italian hotels.

    I hope we can travel to Calabria some day. So far we have been mostly in northern Italy(Firenze,Venetzia, Bologna etc.)
    I probably have prejudices but we are a little bit worried about going to Napoli. I guess it depends on which streets and parts of the city we visit.
    People say it is a high crime rate. On the other hand I am tempted to visit this beautiful city. What´s your opinon about this matter?

  4. If you're worried, start with the Chiai District. As we said in the post, we saw no sign of anyone to fear there, just a big city with the usual cautions--mostly avoiding getting run over by a motorino!

  5. Thank´s for the answer! I shall keep Chiai district in mind if and when we visit Napoli.

  6. Nearly all of our favorite places in Italy are in Naples and you posted about quite a few of them. I wish that i never smoked a cigarette and had the health to revisit Naples over and over. I love the area from Naples north to Formia!!!!!

    1. Hi Gil, I recently heard a rumor that the American 6th Fleet was moving from Naples to the north a little. Could they be going to Formia? We've been in Gaeta where the Italian navy has a presence and Formia, with a port for ferries, is next door. What things do you like about that coastline? We're still learning! Doug

  7. Hey Gil, it's been too long...
    Our Italian language teacher wants to take us to see some special Christmas sites. It's got so much more than what we saw in a couple days!

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