Southern Italy

Naples, Italy

A World Heritage Center

Santa Chiara, Naples
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Read Next Episode: Capri, Vesuvius, Pompeii

Sept 26-30, Oct 4-5 2017 


We had all kinds of advice, mostly negative, when we said we were going to spend several days in Naples. Some people said they would never go there; it was unsafe, it was dirty and full of garbage. Then there was a travel article in our local newspaper highlighting the historic gems awaiting visitors. We decided to stick with the positive and we were rewarded.


We had arranged meet a group of friends in a large villa about two hours south of Naples airport and we had never ventured into Southern Italy so we signed up for a self-guided walking tour that included day trips to Vesuvius, Capri and Pompeii, plus three days of walking on the Amalfi Coast. We didn’t regret any of our decisions.


We flew from Ottawa to Paris on September 21 to allow a few days to visit with our daughter and her family in Paris and to get over jetlag. From Paris it was a convenient Easyjet flight to Naples. We had read that there was an inexpensive shuttle bus from the airport to the central train station in Naples. From there, we would walk to our hotel. Unfortunately the shuttle bus lineup at Naples airport was so long that we would have been waiting for close to an hour before getting a seat on a bus. We changed our mind and for a reasonable €20 we got a taxi right to our hotel door. It was the right decision.


Our hotel, Palazzo Salgar was perfectly situated across from the port, from which we would travel to Capri, and an easy walk to the historic center of Naples. The hotel also provided a very good buffet breakfast that set us up for our excursions. That evening we followed a restaurant recommendation from the hotel staff and enjoyed the first of many good Italian meals, all within a short walk of our hotel.


We started out the next morning following the Lonely Planet walking tour of the Historic Center of Naples. There must be at least one church on every block of the Historic Center and everyone has something special to recommend a visit.  It would be easy to get church-fatigue in Naples. We made it to the Duomo and then took a break for lunch and a diversion to the Archaeological Museum.  We spent about 2 hours in the museum and could have stayed longer. The section highlighting Pompeii was of special interest as we would be visiting Vesuvius and the Archaeological site in the next few days. There was even a ‘secret room’, once off limits to women, as part of the Pompeii collection that had erotic artifacts loved by the men of that era; lots of over-sized penises.


On the way back to our hotel we concentrated on the rococo exteriors of buildings and statues in the streets and skipped visiting more churches. Instead, we stopped and had a delicious gelato break. When in Italy...

The amulet is on the left. My earring is on the right.


“Where did you get your earrings?” I was asked by a fellow tourist. If you walk past one of the many souvenir shops in Naples you are bound to notice the red, curved amulets offered for sale. A cornicello is an amulet of good luck used for protection against the evil eye curse. Originally, the cornicelli resembled a bull's horn, to represent fertility, virility and strength. My earrings, red glass chili peppers, were bought in San Miguel, Mexico at a craft market. They certainly were similar but I never heard chili peppers were any good at warding off the evil eye.


We made day trips from Naples to visit Capri, Vesuvius and Pompeii, returning each night to our comfortable hotel in Naples. The write up is the next Episode: Capri, Vesuvius, Pompeii

After our day in Pompeii we were driven to Bomerano, in the hills of the Amalfi Coast, for three day walks in the area. The writeup is on the Episode: Amalfi Coast

We had one more day to tour Naples after our walks on the Amalfi Coast. It gave us time to visit some of the places we had missed. We were driven from our hotel in Bomerano, Agerola on October 4. It took just an hour to reach the Napoli Central B&B, where we would stay for one night before taking the bus to Polignano a Mare, on the heel of Italy in Apulia region, where we would meet our friends, Margaret and Jack Dunphy for a one week bicycle ride.

Our B&B was inside a rather unattractive office and apartment building justa few blocks from the Garibaldi Train Station but the B&B was newly restored and was clean and comfortable.  The owner, Vera, met us and showed us around. She had not yet cleaned the room so we left our suitcases, took the keys and went out to explore some of the recommended spots we had missed when we were there a few days ago.


We visited a few churches that were full-on baroque, with decorations covering every surface: Basilica San Lorenzo Maggiore, Chiesa e Chiostro di San Gregorio Armeno, Basilica di San Paolo Maggiore. We visited all the shops along Via San Gergoria Armeno, where Italians come in December to see the nativity scenes called presepe napoletano. Now, in October, there are the basics to create a village scene to take home and populate with miniature people, animals and daily articles. There was one store that specialized in figurines of famous people, political, sports and film. The latest is Donald Trump, standing with North Korean Kim Jong-un, holding a missile. Inside one church was an interesting collection of crucifixes from different countries.

The ancient Palazzo Diomede Carafa is now office buildings, but a restoration project is in progress to restore the carved wooden gates. There was an interesting stone sculpture of a horse head at the end of an interior piazza. Lunch was at good Pizza place near the University, which we walked the throngs of students eating and chatting on the steps to the street.

Santa Chiara Museum, with archaeological ruins and artifacts, was one of the highlights of the day, despite the fact we didn’t visit the church itself as it was closed until 4PM. The adjacent museum and archaeological dig were enough for us.


Our bus didn’t leave Naples until 3 PM the next afternoon so we had time in the morning for a last walk around town and a light lunch. After lunch we headed for UNA Hotel, across from the central train station, where our friends, the Andrews, had reserved rooms later in the month.  There are advantages to being a Senior Citizen. Nobody questions you if you walk into a hotel and find a quiet place to sit in one of the lobbies. We stayed there for an hour, reading our books before returning to our B&B to collect our bags and walk to the bus station where the FLIX Bus would take us to Polignano. 

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