Naples is a unique feast for the senses. Greek settlers from nearby
Cumae founded it in the 8th century. They had already established
a hilltop town known as Parthenope and as it prospered they built
Neopolis (new town). In the 19th century King Ferdinand I's pet crocodile
that allegedly fed on a diet of unlucky prisoners was embalmed and
hung on the walls of the Castel Nuova.
be deceived by the look of some of the facades of buildings, for
hidden behind are often many marvels to behold. Naples is fascinating,
different and intriguing. Fine work of Neapolitan craftsmen can
be found in boutiques all over Naples.
Negotiating the city is not as fraught with danger
as some people say. There are certain no-go neighbourhoods in the
evenings (Forcella and Ponticelli for example) but most of Naples
is like any other city. In rush hour the traffic grinds to a halt,
so walking or using public transport is best (funicular railways
are very efficient). The hills and harbor, and especially the castles
and palaces such as Castel dell'Ovo or Castel Sant'Elmo, provide
reliable orientation in the maze of streets in the old part of the
city. Locals have a reputation for friendliness and hospitality,
but beware of pickpockets.
In the first days of November, the streets
between Piazza San Gaetano and Via San Biagio dei Librai become
the most animated and crowded in the city because stall-holders
fuel the annual craze for presepi (Christmas cribs) which
are unique in Italy because Jesus, Mary & Joseph are often accompanied
by singers, politicians, football players and actors.