A blog of everyday life and traveling experience.

Minggu, 23 Januari 2022

Italy 2022: Naples (and why I probably won't visit this city again)

Hi everybody!

After many posts about organizational stuff living in Germany, this time I'll write something more fun-- holiday! The sad truth is, I was supposed to fly home for 4 weeks, I even bought the ticket already. But due to the mandatory 10-days quarantine (when I bought the ticket, it was only 3 days), I decided to cancel my ticket as it would cost much more to fly home and it would feel like a waste spending half of the time in the hotel. 

So.. I have to use the holiday anyway, and decided to arrange a last-minute trip to Italy! I have been to the north side (Bologna and Milan) and decided to go a bit to the south now. Actually, Naples was not on the list, we only wanted to go to Pompeii and were planning for a day trip from Rome. But after reading other blogs about it, and calculating the time, cost and effort, we decided to change our flight directly from Stuttgart to Naples, and stayed there for 3 nights! 

Preparation to enter Italy during Corona time

Unfortunately in this pandemic time, we have to be very flexible and much more prepared before traveling. Saying "I will buy a ticket for tonight and fly" would be only easier said than done. You have to check which requirements are needed to enter each country you wanted to visit, and not only that, you also have to check it daily to make sure of last-minute changes. In our case, the case of Omicron has rapidly increased over the days and we were a little bit unsure whether we could actually fly. We checked the news every day, but fortunately, the new regulation that was changed was only that everyone has to wear FFP2-mask, also outside!

Documents you need to prepare prior entering to Italy (from Germany, or for countries on List C):
  • Corona test. For antigen-test no more than 24 hours before flying time, and for PCR test 48 hours. 
  • Covid-19 vaccination pass
  • Digital Passenger Locator Form (dLpf)
What to bring: lots of FFP-2 masks!

Day 1: arrival and getting-to-know Napoli

Our flight from Stuttgart was at 11am, as usual during traveling, a couple of hours earlier from the check-in time was always nice. Online checked-in have been done, but we still needed to drop our baggage at the counter. I have the documents ready, but they actually didn't check it through, they only asked whether we had it prepared or not. It was not stressful, and we boarded and landed without any difficulty. 

According to my experience, I calculated that we would need at least half an hour to get our stuff and have our documents checked, and so on. But oh boy, I was wrong. We only needed less than fifteen minutes to get everything. Surprisingly, they didn't check our documents at all. I've thought Italy would be a bit stricter. But it also could be because our flight was from inside the EU. 

How to reach Naples city center from Airport

Surprisingly, the distance between Napoli Airport and the city center was not that far. There are some ways to reach the city center: taxi, bus or rent a car. We took the bus option because of the obvious reason (the cheapest one). After going out from the arrival, we followed the "bus" sign, and they even provided QR-code on the banners where you could buy the ticket directly. It cost 5€ one way, a reasonable price, I would say.

Following the path to the bus stop (it took around 5-7 minutes on foot), there were some taxi drivers offering the "share taxi" service, which would cost you only 6€ to the main station. This was not a bad opinion, and I would recommend this if you have more luggage, or just want to have peace of mind for the possibility of having to stand on the bus. Besides, the price was fixed so there won't be any scamming. (but if you have otherwise experience, please let me know!) 

The "Alibus" bus for the route Airport - Main Station ran every day from 5 to 23 if I'm not wrong. I did not know about the interval, but I think it'll be around every 10 to 15 minutes. We were lucky because the bus was already there when we arrived at the bus stop -- it was full so we have to stand. I am not a big fan of having to stand with a suitcase and a backpack. Luckily, the way to the main station did not take long, around 15 minutes and we reached already. On the way, we could see how different Napoli was to Germany, architecture-wise or the cleanliness. I've been to Bologna and Milan (both on solo trips fyi), and I didn't recall any of those cities being dirty. You could see trashes laying around, old unrenovated houses, abandoned buildings... But well, better not to judge them by their first fifteen minutes look from inside the bus, right? 


The bus dropped us at the main station, and the cleanliness didn't get any better outside of the main station. We didn't stay long around and used google maps to navigate us to our Airbnb. I chose it to be near the main station to avoid the complication with the luggage on the check-in and check-out day, without knowing that the area of the station was the "slum" area of Napoli. Our Airbnb was only five minutes' walk, but oh dear, we've passed so many trashes, and they smelt badly too. 

Walking around the sea area of Napoli

One of the reasons I was so excited about this city was the possibility of seeing the sea. Coming from Makassar with its sea, I feel the need of seeing the sea and feel the wind and the fishy smell xD. I have already prepared some lists of places I would like to see, and two of them happened to be near the sea: Castle dell Ovo and Castle Nuovo. Since we'd like to walk first, our first destination was Castle Nuovo, around 35 minutes on foot. We chose to go there along the coast. The way was not as beautiful as I thought it'd be, but I was satisfied with the opportunity to enjoy the breeze. And it was obvious that we didn't walk in the tourist area because we saw very few people. 

the seeeeeeaaaaaa!!!

random building accross the sea

We arrived in the hafen, but it seemed that nothing was going on, except for some cruise ships we saw and they were huge. I've never seen one so close, to be honest. I managed to take a picture near it (plus th sea). Funny story, I walked past the yellow line and police came to us, saying something in Italian, but as we told him we didn't speak the language, he just made an "x" sign with his arms and pointed at the line. I then walked out, but he nicely pointed out in the area where I stood in the pic and said, "here okay". 

After spending some minutes in the area, we continued to walk to the castle. 

Castle Nuovo

If you walked along the sea, you could not miss the castle. It was big, it looked badass. It seemed that it was used as a fort back then, not the castle where the princess and prince lived. We were there on a Sunday, which meant the castle was closed. Well, I was not planning to go inside too. But I did take pictures around before we headed out to find for lunch. 

Toledo area

So, if you are in castle Nuovo already, it didn't take long by foot to reach Napoli's famous street. Toledo metro was said to be the "most beautiful metro in Europe", at least that what was our Airbnb host said (and I've read it somewhere too). But that was not our first destination. After walking for quite some time, we were hungry. As usual, I've made a list of restaurants I would love to visit, and the first one, only 2 minutes from Castle Nuovo, was unfortunately too full, and we were just too hungry to wait for more than half-hour. On the quest to find a restaurant, we entered the Galleria Umberto, and they were beautiful. It reminded me of the one in Milan -- well, a tad less beauty than that. 

Galleria Umberto

We exited the main street of Toledo, and now we could see that we were already at one of the main tourist attractions. I personally did not expect this as Italy's cases of Corona was rising. We escaped the main street and went to the smaller street inside and decided to eat at the first restaurant (or well, second) we saw. It was probably a tourist trap, but the food was decent. One thing you needed to have in mind regarding dining, that in Italy, you normally didn't have to tip if in the bill you see something like "servizio" which would cost 2€ to 3€ per person. Or, some restaurant already set their fixed percentage for tipping. This was done because from what I've read, they didn't tip that much (or not at all) in Italy. Please correct me if I'm wrong :) 

first food in Napoli!

After finishing our food, I was still feeling hungry. Well, I need my dessert! There was a cafe nearby that was on my list, and it was supposed to be a good one judging by the long line in front of the cafe. I was hesitant to go in first because it was getting colder, but Tom has convinced me to stay. Apparently, the line was staying longer because most people did take away. We didn't even more than five minutes to be seated, and the cafe was beautiful. It was pricey for a cafe, but it all paid off. I wanted to eat all and ended up ordering a plate consisting of small desserts.

left: the delicious dessert we have // right: toledo street, occupied with people

I was exhausted after dessert, and as it was getting darker and colder, we decided to hit back to our Airbnb before going out again for dinner. This time, as suggested by our host, we decided to take the metro from Toledo. It took us a while to find the entrance of the metro. We didn't know yet if there was an app where you could buy the metro, so we decided to buy a one-time ticket. The machine was broken so we had no choice to buy it through a counter. It wasn't complicated, I just simply say "two one-way" and the cashier gave me two paper tickets with MasterCard symbols. For one way it costs 1.60€, a fair price. 

Toledo's metro station was clean, but I still couldn't portray it as what they claimed to be "the most beautiful metro in Europe". No offense, I might not be looking at the right spot. It was deep underground though and the way down was at least pleasant. 


We didn't take that much time to choose our restaurant for dinner. The nearer it was to our accommodation, the better. After searching for google, I found a restaurant only five minutes by foot. It was quite occupied -- the restaurant was not that big but cozy. We decided to share a pizza, and the pizza was delicious. One tip though, don't order salad in Italy. Somehow they never came out correct. 

Day 2: from the castle by the sea to the all-year-round christmas market

A stressful morning

I have to admit, public transportation in Napoli could be a headache. At least I found an app where you could buy the daily ticket, but that app didn't help much with the direction. The plan for the day was to get to Castle dell'Ovo and we were supposed to reach there by bus. To begin with, we started to take the bus in the wrong direction. It took me one bus stop to realise we were heading the opposite way. We took off at the bus stop, and google told us we had to go back to the previous stop to take the next bus. It took us fifteen minutes to walk back, and we had to walk through dirty streets covered with trashes. It was by that time I thought to myself that I would never come back here. We walked to the main station but never succeeded to find the right bus stop. I even tried to ask the ticket officer but I got yelled at instead. In the end, we decided to take the metro and walked for half an hour, which turned out to be the best decision ever, because we got so much more to see. 

A walk from Piazza del Plebiscito to Castle dell Ovo

From Municipio station, we walked through castle Nuovo once more, and even passed by the restaurant we saw yesterday. It was almost empty and I felt like wanting to go and dine there, and although it was almost noon, we haven't visited any place, so we put a hold on that and walked through Piazza del Plebisictio on the way to Castle dell Ovo. The square was huge and amazing. There weren't so many people at the time we reached there (unlike Toledo, which was located in the next street, already full of tourists). After taking some pictures, we continued to walk, and there it was, the sea. Unlike yesterday in the harbor, this time the weather was sunny, and seeing all those palm trees was really calming me. 

finally got a taste of the famous sfogliatelle
Piazza del Plebisito
The walk was pretty nice, and the weather was neither too cold. We decided to sit in a "mini" cafe and ordered two cups of espresso. One thing we noticed here in Italy is that people drank lots of espressos, and somehow they never understood it correctly every time we wanted to order "Latte Macchiato". Anyway, we stayed for some minutes to enjoy the view of the sea -- Mount Vesuvius was almost visible if it weren't for the clouds. The setting of the cafe reminded me of the stands at Losari Beach -- to be honest, it was a nice nostalgic feeling. 

what a view...

Castle dell Ovo

Like Castel Nuovo, the castle itself seemed to be like a fort. We had to cross a bridge to get there, and oh dear, there were so many sellers who tried to sell you keychains and stuff. The entrance was actually free, but we didn't book it in advance and all the slots for that day were already booked out. The other option to enter was through an exhibition, but I was not going to pay 17€ for that one. Instead, we made it outside the castle and set our quest to find a place to eat. We were extremely hungry, and it was already past noon. I saw some restaurants with adequate reviews from google, but since we were afraid those were all tourist traps, we decided to walk back through the bridge.

Castle Nuovo from accross the bridge

boats boats boats!

Quest: Lunch 

Turned out there were a lot more restaurants on the street across Castle dell Ovo and they all looked like tourist traps xD While keep walking and walking, we then had to decide whether to stop by a random restaurant or go back and go to our next place. We saw a cute restaurant just before the castle, but too tired to walk back twenty minutes when all we had for today was one piece of Sfogiatelle. Finally, we stopped by a restaurant that didn't have two thousand of its servers trying to lure people in. 


The salad was better than yesterday's dinner but still disappointing. The bruschetta was nice but it took a while until they served us our main food. I ordered fried pizza because I've read some blogs and they recommended to at least try the fried pizza in Napoli. It wasn't bad but didn't surprise me either. I think we were just in the wrong restaurant for fried pizza. But the main thing is that we finally filled our fuel and were ready for the next stop. 

We still had two places in mind: Castel St. Angelo (thanks to a friend's recommendation!) and the Christmas market. Using google maps, we decided to try the funicular to the castle first, and it would take us around 40 minutes, (with the funicular actually only 5 minutes and the rest by walking). There was a direct bus, but we stopped believing our luck with that one in Napoli xD

Castle St. Angelo

The way to the next Funicular was nice -- nice enough to realize that not every part of Napoli was full of trashes. We saw very little trashes lying around, and the neighborhood was pretty neat. It makes me wonder how two parts of the city could be this different. It took us around twenty minutes (with a few photo stops) to reach the funicular and we had to wait for another ten minutes for the next funicular schedule. I've rarely ridden a funicular, only did it in Heidelberg twice (which only lasts less than 90 seconds). It took us a couple of minutes and three stops until we reached the end station and from there, we walked for another fifteen minutes to reach the castle. The castle was located high up in Napoli.

The weather was starting to get darker and colder. I hate cold, but the view might be great from the castle. Unlike other castles, it was actually not possible to be inside this castle. We paid 5€ to walk through (and nobody checked us until the end) and then walked up, just following everyone. The higher we went, the colder it got and the wind got stronger. But the view was worth it, and if it weren't only for the cold, I would love to stay more up there. We spent around one hour there, taking pictures and walking through before going to the next destination (and before I got grumpier due to weather xD).

left: the way to funicular // middle & left: castle st. angelo

the view from up!

On the way to the all-year-round Christmas market

I've read that one must-visit place was the Christmas market that opened for all time of the year and it was what typical from Napoli. It took us around half an hour to reach the metro station and we walked around ten minutes through the smaller street. After exiting the main road and we went to the narrower street, we saw lots of secondhand bookstores. We just did a quick eye-shopping before continuing to walk, since all the books were in Italian. Along the street, there were also lots of souvenirs stands, from handmade necklaces, the famous Neapolitan chili accessories, to posters. Instead of big brands (and streets like Toledo), I prefer these streets. It felt more local. 

The so-called Christmas market was not anything like German's Weihnachtsmarkt, but they had their own uniqueness. It seemed some of the accessories were handmade by the shop owners, but all the stuff were quite the same from one store to another store. In the end, it took us less than ten minutes to finish walking the street. Since I haven't got my daily dose of sugar (xD), we decided to take a small break at the cafe, and the coffee and the cordine I ordered were delicious although a bit too sweet for me (didn't know the name of what I ordered but never saw this kind of coffee-mix anywhere). 

to close the day: gelato!

We walked back to our Airbnb around 20 minutes and were glad that we still managed to buy a gelato (no matter how cold it was outside). We didn't have dinner, but instead buy some small stuff from a minimarket, as well as lunches for our trip on the next day to Pompeii!

Day 3: Pompeii & the worst dinner

Pompeii: will be on a special post since it was the highlight of this Napoli trip!

After coming back from Pompeii, we decided to take one hour of rest before heading up for dinner. Since we walked so much, we didn't want to go somewhere that far. I found a restaurant with a good review on google and decided maybe on our last night we should've had something good. 

The restaurant itself was okay decorated, if you asked me, they just had so many displays of newspapers' articles about them. Unfortunately, they did not have anything specific for vegetarians. I ordered seafood pasta, but unfortunately, it tasted like regret. Not our best restaurant, but at least we didn't put extra effort to go there.

Day 4: Bye Napoli!

Our itinerary for the 4th day was pretty flexible because we didn't want to stress ourselves since we had to travel to Rome. Theoretically, we could have stayed half-day in Napoli, but we thought we already saw everything we wanted to see, and for me, it was enough. We took the train shortly before 11am but went to the train station one hour before (despite staying only five minutes from the main station) to avoid any last-minute trouble. 

last breakfast in Napoli!

What we noticed from our experience that unlike in Germany where you might or might not get checked in the train, in Italy you have to scan your tickets (and your corona vaccination qr-code) before going to the platforms. And what's even "funnier" for me, the platforms of the trains were to be shown only shortly before the departure time, and you could only go to the platforms area at least 40 minutes before your train, resulting in lots of people waiting outside of the platforms. 

But anyway, despite all the cons of Napoli, we did enjoy our time there. As I said in the beginning, I did not see myself visiting this city anytime soon, unless I wanted to visit the Island or go to Pompeii again! 

What to eat/drink in Napoli (based on the foodie me xD)

  • Sfogiatelle (you can find them almost everywhere)
  • Fried Pizza
  • Lots of seafood pasta (if you could find a good restaurant)
  • Cannoli
  • Lots of espressos
  • Neapolitan Pizza (sadly we didn't try this)
  • Baba

My recommendation on where to eat:

  • Cafe Gambrinus (https://grancaffegambrinus.com/en/)
    • Offered plenty of desserts, drinks, as well as food. It is a little bit more expensive for Napoli but worth it!!
  • Ristorante Tipicio Napoletano - I Sapori di Parthenope (https://www.isaporidiparthenope.it/)
    • We love their pizza but don't order salad here xD

Thanks for reading my story!
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