The ferry from Sorrento to Naples is air-conditioned — thank the frakking gods. (By the way, if you caught that Battlestar Gallactica reference, you’re okay in my book.)
After hauling our backpacks down from old town Sorrento to the ferry terminal, we were hot, sweaty, and whiney.
The kids, too.
A short ride later, we arrived in Naples and immediately looked for a place to store our luggage for a few hours.
Luggage Storage While Traveling
Luggage storage services are essential if you travel like Scott and I do. Because we go from place to place, we often have to check out of an apartment before we can check into the next one. And if I have to lug my backpack all over the city in the high heat of summer (or any heat for that matter), I’ll throw a bigger tantrum than the kids.
We’ve used everything from self-service locker-style storage all the way to the coziest storage place by the Rome Colosseum called Left Luggage Room. (They even made us an espresso while we filled out paperwork and decorate the place with antique bags!) Anywho, try luggage storage next time your travel.
So What Did I Think of Naples?
I’ll be honest about Naples — I didn’t like it. I have respect for it, and I can appreciate it for the culture, history, and people — but I’ve never been a big fan of huge cities. And certainly not ones that are dirty and chaotic.
Rick Steves loves Naples and can share a lot about it, so I promise it’s not all bad! It’s just not for me.
Scott, however, appreciated it much more and was able to embrace the chaos and noise. He was charmed by the kind man who helped him at the corner produce stand (while actively smoking a cigarette over the produce!), fascinated by the seafood shop that had swordfish and live octopus on display in front, and enjoyed watching the insanely loud watermelon truck cruise through our alley below our balcony with a loud speaker.
So, my opinion of Naples is just that — my opinion. Plenty of people love the city and its sense of true Italian culture.
My favorite day during this part of our trip, however, was when we went to Pompeii. For me, it was the highlight of Naples. Because it’s not in Naples.😆
A Quick History of Pompeii
If you need a refresher on history class as I did, Pompeii is an ancient city that was buried under volcanic material when Mt. Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD. It was covered in six meters (19 feet) of ash, rock, and debris and was forgotten about until 1748 when it was surprisingly rediscovered. Archeologists were amazed by how well the volcanic material preserved the town — creating an incredible view of Roman life from nearly 2000 years ago.
The volcanic material encased objects and bodies, creating cavities in the stone and lava rock when they decomposed. In 1870, roughly 1,700 years after the eruption, a method of pouring plaster into the cavities was used to create life-like statues. That’s how the famous images of people found in the positions they were in when they were killed by the Mt. Vesuvius eruption were created. It makes an eerie and humbling sight.
Is It Worth it to Get a Tour of Pompeii?
We opted for a tour because we’d read about Pompeii being one of the more challenging sites to explore on your own. Without much signage and information, we would have little idea what we were looking at besides ancient ruins.
Our guide showed us around the highlights of the large area — including a tour through a rich person’s home, the Pompeii Forum, and the brothel.
The Pompeii brothel is apparently pretty famous for some of the frescoes on the wall. (I didn’t know this before visiting.😆) Simply Google “Pompeii brothel frescoes” and you’ll see some of the images I won’t be sharing here in the blog.
Fortunately, it was packed (a popular destination in Pompeii!) and the kids didn’t notice the frescoes or the topic our heavily accented tour guide was sharing.
We were glad we did the tour of Pompeii. Although the kids were bored and hot, we really saw so much of the site in a two-hour tour that would’ve taken us all day to figure out on our own.
Our Naples Apartment
After a day of touring Pompeii, we took the train back to the nicest apartment we’ve stayed in so far. I was so grateful to have a nice, clean place to land while we were staying in Naples and the kids got all the credit because they picked it out!
While we were planning the trip, we realized the kids needed some ownership over what was to be their entire summer. So we narrowed things down to several places and showed them pictures and they chose… the boat apartment!
When we arrived, we were SOOO happy to have such a tidy place. There were even two bedrooms AND two bathrooms, which felt like a luxury.
Pizza in Naples
Pizza was definitely a highlight of Naples. The different regions of Italy have their own specialties and for Naples, that’s pizza.
I’m not gonna lie — we ate a LOT of pizza in Naples. Should I see if I can use the word pizza a few more times? I’m sure I can.
Our favorite was L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele. By this point, the kids had tried tons of pizza on the trip, but when they took their first bites here, they said, “Oh my gosh, this is the best pizza I’ve ever had.” And our kids must have good taste because we loved it too. We also realized we were sitting at the table Julia Roberts sat in during an Eat, Pray, Love scene so that was fun to find out.
L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele only offers two types — Margherita or Marinara (or half and half!). But the simplicity works because they’ve been making delicious pizza since 1870!
My second favorite place we tried was Barillos, which is apparently well known — but worth the wait and only a 5-10 minute walk from our apartment.
Naples is also known for pizza fritta, or fried pizza. Sounds crazy, right? Well, if that’s crazy then I don’t want to be sane — because it’s delicious!
And so, after three full days and four nights in Napoli, we hopped on a TrenItalia train to Rome. That’s where I sit right now as I type this to share with you, so I’m finally officially caught up here on the blog and will do my best to keep up with shorter but more frequent updates.
Thanks for reading and comment below if you have anything to share or ask! To see more photos, follow along on Instagram.
Next Stop: Five nights and four full days in Rome, where we’ll see the Colosseum, Roman Forum, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, and most important — Giolitti gelateria.
This is part of a series about our family travels this summer through Italy — and beyond. You can start from the beginning of the blog series here or follow along on Instagram.