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Naples

NAVIGATING THROUGH NAPLES

Ah, Naples. What images it conjures up. The birthplace of pizza and the backdrop to the looming, silent mass that is Mount Vesuvius. Sidewalk cafes and swarms of motor scooters in sometimes ear splitting proximity. The moody wail of an accordian and some perfectly chilled prosecco. No wonder it has long been a place associated with love and la dolce vita.

Naples is the third largest city in Italy after Rome and Milan and, like most parts of Italy, it boasts a whole raft of eye popping ancient sites, mostly all in close proximity to the modern city.
Pompeii is like nothing you’ve ever seen; a sixty six hectare, silent scream of a city, immolated on that fateful August day in AD79 by a wrathful Vesuvius. Over time, the petrified remains were slowly uncovered. What stands today is a sobering, valedictory monument to human folly.

The tracks made centuries ago by long gone chariot wheels are still engraved into the ground here. The truncated, jagged remants of ornamental columns still point at the sky like accusing fingers. Walls with perfectly preserved mosiacs loom up like so many tombstones. Pompeii is impossible to ignore, and even harder to forget.
On a more carefree note, ferries from Naples will waft you over to Ischia, Capri, and even off to Sorrento if you’re so inclined. Be sure you’re aware of the exact arrival and departure time of these.

If you’re feeling brave, you could even visit the blackened slopes of Mount Vesuvius itself. The brooding old volcano last erupted back in 1944, and a visit to it makes for a strange, quite exhilarating counter point to all the teeming life unfolding down below.

The actual city centre is one of the largest in Europe, and comes complete with a string of magnificent historical gems. Teatro di San Carlo is the oldest opera house in Italy, as well as the largest. For that must have slice of Neapolitan pizza, check out one of the many sun splashed cafes that fringe the edges of the main square of Piazza del Plebescito.

I would also recommend the imposing, thirteenth century Castel Nuovo as a sight well worth seeing. This is pretty much within walking distance of the ship, and it is a prime example of medieval power politics; a vast, brooding colossus that still dominates the area around it. The entire city was listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO back in 1995.

Getting there: the city centre is pretty much within walking distance from where your ship docks at the Stazione Maritima. For Pompeii, trains from Naples are frequent, and the journey takes about forty minutes each way. The cost is around 2.50 Euros.
Otherwise, you can take a bus to Pompeii from Naples. These run every half hour and, as with the trains, journey time is around forty minutes, and the cost around 2.50 euros.

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