Naples, with it’s traffic-clogged streets and gritty-city vibe felt much further from the quiet countryside of Montepulciano than it’s geographic location would imply. A quick 5-hour train ride and we were standing in the middle of one of Italy’s most notorious cities. Famous for it’s pizza, pasta, and pick-pockets, Naples can be an amazing place to visit — as long as you stay on your toes.
Being wary of the crime-laden center, we booked an apartment in one of Naples more upscale neighborhoods. Posillipo is a collection of pretty, classical italian homes and apartments 6km north of the city center that are built into the steep hillside. The homes here have sweeping views overlooking the Napoli Coast and Mount Vesuvius. The hills are so steep in fact, that the city has built elevators right in — for a small sum of 30 cents the rickety box will whisk you all the way up to the top!
By the time we arrived at our apartment it was quite late and we were more than ready to jump into the pizza scene. Our Airbnb host was amazing and offered to drop us off at his favorite pizza spot in the neighborhood: 50 Kalò. In spite of the late hour the place was packed with crowds of Italians spilling out into the streets. Getting a seat was a lesson in patience and perserverence as we camped out right next to the host. It was all well worth it though, once we were sat and the pizza arrived. With it’s signature Napoli thin, doughy crust, fresh sauce, and variety of topping options we were in pizza heaven.
The following day we set off for the main event of the pizza game: Pizza Da Michelle. Thanks to the research of our culinary expert (thanks, Andi!) and a few hunger-inducing YouTube videos, we were convinced. We were not leaving Naples without trying the oldest, and most famous pizza in the city. We arrived mid-day hoping to avoid the dinner rush that often pushed wait times into the 2-3 hour range. However, a “slow time” doesn’t seem to exist here and the street outside was so packed with hungry patrons-to-be that motorbikes had trouble getting through. Taking cues from locals we ordered two pizzas to go, forgoing the restaurant’s atmosphere in favor of a MUCH faster pizza. We brought our prized pies over to a nearby cafe where we bribed the owner to let us camp out in exchange for buying lots of beer and spritzes. Once again, the pizza did not disappoint. Da Michelle only does two kinds of pizza: a traditional red-sauce-only marinera and, our favorite, a margaritta that adds fresh mozzerella. Both with a crust so soft and plyable it made New York Style pizza seem inflexible by comparison.
On our last full day we hopped a ferry over to nearby Capri for some serious island time. A world away from Naples, Capri was all upscale Italian seaside glamour and cerulean seas. On a whim we decided to rent a boat, scrambling to buy the swimsuits and beach gear we would need from the local shops. Worth it? Absolutely! This turned out to be the best impulse decision of our Italian adventures. With little instruction on how to actually navigate a boat, the friendly boat rental guy waved us off into the open seas. Kyle handled his virgin voyage into ocean boating like a pro, expertly navigating us along the rocky coast, through natural arches and into bright blue grottos. I can’t imagine a better way to end our day than swimming in the clear mediterranean waters off our own private boat.
Kyle and I parted ways with our friends early the next morning to hop a train up to Rome for our flight out. Our plane departed late afternoon, leaving us just enough time to drop our bags at the train station’s bag check and do a quick self-led walking tour around the Colleseum and Capitoline Hill. While we could have easily spent days exploring Rome’s extensive history, our time in Europe was up. We had used up every single day allowed by our Schengen Visa, and were looking forward to the last third of our journey.
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