I was nervous about spending three nights in Naples. One friend told me it was a horrible place, while my mum begged me not to go out after dark because she’d heard it was the Mafia capital of Italy (she’s also convinced Mt Vesuvius is about to blow).
But I’ve found myself unexpectedly charmed by the city. It has an energetic vibe that I found lacking in Rome. We are staying in the Quartier Spagnoli at Il Convento – a convent that’s been turned into a hotel. The streets are atmospheric and narrow, crammed with trattorias and boutiques and gelato shops.
We arrived yesterday around lunch time from Capri, but the eldest was feeling poorly, so she took to her bed while the youngest and I headed out for sustenance.
We found ourselves in a laneway restaurant tucking into fried calamari and prawns and seafood spaghetti while beggars, hawkers and a man playing a piano accordion wandered past. The youngest was transfixed.
Then we went shopping for some white shorts for her to wear with her new white dress. H&M delivered a pair on a sale rack, plus a floral hat that says “Always be Awesome” … Which is kinda her mantra for life, so quite appropriate.
I find it amusing that the only things she’s bought with her spending money since we arrived are clothes. I sense expensive teen years in my future.
Then we headed back to the hotel to collect the eldest for gelato in a gorgeous building called Galleria Umberto. As we licked our divine ice creams a group of old blokes started busking, strumming guitars and singing Italian songs in the most amazing tenor voices. I almost had to pinch myself.
After dark the Quartieri Spagnoli gets a bit crazy – noisy, chaotic and full of life, scooters shooting in all directions, horns blaring, locals shouting, delicious smells wafting from the endless restaurants …
It’s a little scary, but also exhilarating.
I love it.