Italy: Pizza, Ancient Ruins, and a Healthy Dose of Creepers

As soon as I started thinking about planning for my Easter break, one thought immediately came to mind – Italy. The long stretch of winter had been wearing on both my spirits and my body, and the idea of sunlight was utterly refreshing. And what better place to go for the biggest Christian holiday than the seat of Catholicism itself?

Unfortunately for me, I procrastinated for too long and missed out on my chance to go to Rome. Turns out I wasn’t the only one who thought going there on an Easter holiday would be a good idea. Therefore, I turned my sights to a nearby location – Naples. Why? It had the cheapest airfare, plain and simple. After a quick Google Images search, I was sold.
A typical Naples street.
Excited to the extreme, I packed my bags and set off. Now, I had done a bit of preliminary research but not a lot. I had read a short note about some people saying it was a dirty and crowded city, but didn’t think much of it. Stumbling onto the Alibus at the airport and travelling to the city center opened my eyes. Cars and scooters zoomed everywhere, while empty bottles and discarded fast food bags littered the streets. It appears that in Naples, there were no traffic laws whatsoever, as scooters could go in between cars, on sidewalks, or in pedestrian zones with no consequence. Needless to say, it was a very scary thing at first, but one does acclimate to the chaotic traffic.
Another thing I had been warned about was the, for lack of a better word, creepiness of Italian men. They certainly do have a reputation as being “suave ladies’ men”. This was utterly apparent as soon as I stepped out from the train station where the bus had left me off. A man approached me nearly immediately, and asked me to take his picture. Being a generally nice person, I obliged. Then he started to nonchalantly ask me personal questions, preventing me from leaving. He eventually coerced me into friend requesting him on Facebook from his account (which I declined later on that evening, ha). Then came the real request – did I want to go get some coffee with him? He wasn’t actually an Italian, which may be counterproductive to my point; however, he said he has been living in Italy for some time, so I believe this counts in my favor.
Some crazy architecture found under some family’s house.
I didn’t think too much of it, and after escaping, proceeded on my way. Not five minutes, 100 yards later, another man approaches me as I am walking. He begins to ask me questions, and being a generally nice person, I oblige him with answers. After a few minutes came the request – did I want to grab a pizza with him? I was able to decline and duck away, but only after an exceedingly long goodbye sequence.
A bit overwhelmed, I decide to go sit down in the main square just to get myself reorganized (and take a few pictures). I went to one of the statues and put my bag down, when a man asked me for the time. I get out my phone and show him, since he appeared to be speaking Italian. At this point, I was done, and though I could tell he wanted to keep talking, I simply left.
From that point on, I tried a new tactic – pretending I didn’t speak any English or, in extreme cases, simply deciding not to be a nice person and ignore people. It worked pretty well, leaving me to enjoy the rest of my trip without a male escort.
Being forewarned of the creepiness of the Italian male specimen, I was very wary of finding someone to stay with visa Couchsurfing. As soon as I posted the request on the website, I got a ton of replies from Italian men begging me to stay with them, almost to the point of harassment. Gazing at their profiles, I could see that they had made advances on their female Couchsurfers in the past, so I politely declined them all. All seemed lost, and I thought I would have to stay in a hostel, until I received a message from a kind man named Azli. He was Malaysian, had all positive reviews, and seemed to be a genuinely nice person. Grateful, I accepted his offer.
Pompeii, Italy
It was a wonderful thing I did, because he was an awesome host. First of all, he lives in a splendid apartment right in the middle of the city with an empty spare bedroom. He has roommates, but they were all away for Easter. Second, he graciously offered me food for every meal, preparing a nice salad with fresh mozzarella my first night, grabbing us some pizza for dinner my second night, and making delicious pasta for lunch my third day there. Third, he was a superb tour guide, taking me for a walk the first two nights after he was finished with work, and then spending his entire Saturday morning giving me a grand tour of the Naples coastline. Overall, it was my best experience Couchsurfing ever, and I hope I can someday return the favor.
Worries about having a place to stay and being creeped on aside, I had a nice time exploring the city. The first day, I merely stumbled around the city, taking in the traditionally small cobblestone alleyways with row upon row of clothes hanging across the windows above the streets. I visited several churches, and eventually made my way to the ancient aqueducts which extend like catacombs beneath the city.
Ercolano, Italy
On my second day I decided to take a trip to some ancient ruins: Pompeii and Ercolano. First stop of the day was Ercolano, an ancient Greek village that got destroyed by an eruption from Mt. Vesuvius. Surprisingly, I was allowed to roam free through nearly all the ruins. I could climb, sit, touch, and even lick the weathered rock if I so chose. Perhaps the most exciting part of the day was the discount I received for having a Czech Republic visa. The ticket seller counted it as an EU ID card, meaning that I got 50% off my admission! That was the single best part of living in the Czech Republic for a year.
Pompeii was a little more sheltered, but not much. It was also a Roman establishment completely destroyed by another Mt. Vesuvius eruption, burying people alive in lava right in the streets. It took archaeologists years to uncover it all.
Kristy in Naples
Naples, Italy
The way home was a bit long, as the Circumvesuviana Railway literally has to go around the mountain to get back to the town. My third and final day in Naples, I spent with Azli. He took me on an extended walking tour of the city, bringing me to the coastline that I had been unable to find in previous days.
Later that day, I left on a train for my Amalfi Coast excursion. But perhaps that will be another tale, as it doesn’t actually focus on my Naples adventure.

Kristy Snyder

I'm a creative and quirky woman just looking to make her mark on the world. Writer, thinker, crafter, doer. Loves playing ice hockey and curling up with a good book. Traveling is a foremost passion and the road is always calling. Above all, I try to be an enjoyer of life.

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