Thursday, November 14, 2013

At Last...Italy!

The Port of Naples early in the morning of October 25, 2013
Since Ron and I were married in 2006, Ron has promised to take me to his favorite country...Italy. On this cruise, we had five ports of call in Italy.  Our first port was Naples or Napoli.  Our stop on October 25th was to be from 8AM-6PM, not even 12 what to do in so short a time?  We could take a hydrofoil boat to the beautiful isle of Capri, or perhaps an excursion to Pompeii or Herculaneum to tour the ruins of those towns from the Mt. Vesuvius eruption of 79 AD. A tour of the Amalfi Coast and Sorrento sounded wonderful but it was fully booked. An all day tour of Cinque Terre...gorgeous, but too physically demanding requiring climbing lots of steps and a long bus ride on winding roads. So what should we do?

I had been told by some people who have stopped in Naples on a cruise or vacation that there was nothing to see there, that it was a dirty city, and filled with pick-pockets.  So, a tour of Naples was lowest on the list of possible things to do during this port stop. However, everything I had been told about Naples was wrong!  I found Naples to be a wonderful place.  We passed on expensive excursions to the more exotic locations and asked a cab driver to give us (Ron, I and our friends, Sharon and Bob) a two hour tour of the city.  We have no regrets - except that it was too short.

We saw a vibrant city that is one of the oldest continuously occupied cities in the world .  First established in the Second Millennium BC when Bronze Age Greek inhabitants settled there, Naples has a history of artistic, cultural and culinary excellence.  We started at the Duomo.

National Cathedral of Napoli - the Duomo -a place of incredible beauty and painted frescoes
that rival any other cathedral in Italy

Inside the Duomo,  first established in the 1200's
(this is the only picture I took inside as I saw a sign prohibiting photographs).  
On one side of the Duomo is the Chapel of the Treasure of San Gennaro.  San Gennaro is the partron saint of Naples, who was martyred and performed miracles for the people of Naples.  The church contains beautiful and precious paintings, jewels, and precious sacraments including the vials of his blood that liquefy each year in a miracle. The sumptuous Treasure of Gennaro was sent to Rome for exhibition October 30th.  You can enjoy the treasure in all its glory in this You Tube video:

The taxi driver took us through the small narrow streets where people lived and shopped

This little street had sculptors and carvers with many figurines and statuary for sale.

I purchased some delectable Neapolitan pastry treats including Baba au Rhum at a pastry store.  (Photo by Lauren Hieneck).  I can still taste the little rum-soaked spongy cakes!

The Palazzo Reale in the Piazza del Plebiscito, built in the 1600's.
To take a beautiful tour inside, please see Edoardo Pone's You Tube Video here

One of the largest squares in Naples is the Piazza del Plebiscito in front of the Palazzo Reale

  In the Piazza del Plebiscito there is the Church of 
San Francesco di Paola

Lively streets and outdoor cafes of Naples

Our taxi driver took us to the neighborhood of Chiaia along the seaside to see a great view of the Bay of Naples

We asked our driver to take us to a restaurant to get Neapolitan pizza on the way back to the port
and he took us to a little place on the waterfront next to the Castel dell' Ovo
We had lunch at Pizzeria del Borgo in the shadow of the Castel dell'Ovo on the waterfront.  We ordered Pizza which was invented here in Naples. The pizza, antipasto, beer and wine were good, but the service was so-so. Bob was a bit upset when the waiter seemed to insist we tip him although there was a 15% service charge already on the bill which previous reviewers on the Tripadvisor website have also complained of.  The video below provides a delightful overview of the love for pizza in Naples:

Ron and I called for a taxi to take us back to the ship.  Our friends, Sharon and Bob, elected to walk back because they were told it was a walk of no more than 400 meters.  They found it to be more like a half a mile or more.  

Across the street from where our ship was docked was the Castel Nuovo or Maschio Angioino

This is a view of Naples from our ship as we got ready to depart
I felt like Naples was a rushed and half-eaten gourmet meal and wished we had been able to savor Naples wonderful attractions.  We set sail at 6:00PM for the Port of Civitavechhia and Rome.

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