Being back on the coast after the sweltering heat of Rome was a blessed relief, the sea breeze doing its best to cool us down. We’d be travelling by the coast for the next couple of days and we’d stay at San Felice on our first night, a campsite that was fairly hard to find and had no drinking water. You had to buy water from the onsite shop, hmm, not a rip off at all then !! We met a fellow cyclist here, a guy called Hans from Germany, we invited him to join us for pizza but he declined as he already had food. We went out and found several pizza places and eventually settled on one that took our fancy, I had my first ever Napoli pizza and it was so good I had another one! Naomi and Thijs also enjoyed their pizzas and with a couple of beers to round things off it was a very pleasant evening and so back to camp.
The morning saw us heading along the coast, not to far I admit, to a place called Formia and a campsite right on the beach.
We should have been staying a couple of kilometres along the coast at Baia Domizia campsite but they wanted over 75 euros for just one night, funny thing is that was the discounted price after we objected to the full price. Still their loss and our gain as our eventual camp cost us about half and they were really friendly. It was a very Italian camp with no other overseas visitors other than us, still we weren’t bothered and had a very pleasant evening.
Next day our route had us heading for a campsite at Pozzuoli, the nearest campsite we could find to Naples, only about six stops on the train !!
The campsite was an eye opener for a start as its actually in a volcano and its still letting of sulphurous steam in several places, we did take a tour around it eventually and found it very interesting.
Meanwhile the pitch was ok, the prices reasonable by Italian standards and the facilities more than adequate. We’d been fortunate to end up in another good campsite on our rest day, we arrived early which gave us time to go into Naples in the afternoon.
We walked about 1km down the hill and caught the train into the City, our first impressions weren’t great, no surprise really as the route towards Naples on our bikes was one of the worst roads for rubbish we’d been on. Seriously we’ve cycled in Africa and India and this was comparable, also the amount of broken glass on the roads was astonishing, what makes people just throw glass bottles from cars, it’s ridiculous !! We found out later that the mafia control the rubbish collection in Naples which effectively means they hold the city to ransom, who’d have thought that Italians, be they mafia or not should care so little for their own country, they should be ashamed !! Ok back to Naples, most of what we saw once you’d got used to the rubbish and graffiti was ok, just ok though, not big wows like Rome. We started with the old area of the city and its narrow little streets, the advice here is to make sure your not here after dark !! The place was a little seedy perhaps but none the less interesting for it. We stopped for a bite to eat and a beer before continuing our walk but it was getting dark so we headed off back to camp, we’d continue our look at Naples in the morning.
Naples, day 2. We knew how to get into Naples now so no messing about, we got in mid morning and went straight for one of the funicular railways, there are three in Naples.
Arriving at the top most platform we headed for the museum, it’s only a short walk and offers one of the best views out over the bay of Naples. The museum is a beautiful old mansion, mostly restored to its former glory and with some fabulous gardens which offer some much needed shade. We walked through the gardens to the back off the museum and down the very grand steps that lead to a fountain and pond. The pond is full of turtles that just seemed as if they were posing for photos.
Then past the pond and up a few steps through the shrubs and you find yourself on a walkway with a substantial wall protecting you from a very long drop. From here the view is fantastic, out over the rooftops and down to the sea beyond, certainly worth the effort to get there !
From the museum we stopped for an early lunch on the way to Castel Sant’Elmo, pizza and beer, both very good although a bit pricey, still it is a tourist hot spot so what did we expect ? The Castel is a fair walk from the museum but fairly easy to find as its well signposted. We arrived and paid our money before taking the lift to the ramparts, the views are incredible….
Naples is so far below that it actually looks clean from here, a bit naughty but its true ! We spent a fair while taking photos before heading back to the funicular railway, back down we continued our tour. Firstly with a very grand shopping arcade with a stunning glass roof, then onto a huge piazza with a church at one end which was locked shut. At the other end was a fairly sombre looking building and in the middle some very grand statues on high plinths which had been defaced by graffiti !! The piazza itself was strewn with rubbish and overgrown with weeds !
I’m not kidding, this place really isn’t somewhere I’d recommend going, if your passing maybe but otherwise don’t bother. Next we headed for the harbour, on route we stopped to look at castle number two.
Looked ok from across the road it was only when we got up close that we saw all the rubbish and disused equipment down in the moat, not a great first impression ! We couldn’t get into the castle either as they were setting up for a concert. Oh well, onward round the harbour past lots of expensive boats and the small fairground to castle number three !
This one was free to enter and was good fun to wander about and taking photos, it offered some good views back up the hill to Castel Sant’Elmo and Naples, it was even quite clean and tidy.
We seemed to be in a bit better neighbourhood now, better looking cafe’s and restaurants so we stopped for ice cream before continuing our walk. We found some nice interesting looking side streets that took us back up the hill and towards the station, it was time to go back to camp.
My impressions of Naples weren’t great and as I said before I wouldn’t recommend it but if you do go make the effort to go to Castel Sant’Elmo it was certainly one of the highlights for me.
The following morning we found ourselves cycling through Naples, along the seafront and harbour we’d walked the day before, it was a Sunday and therefore nice and quiet.
The only bugbear was the cobbled and flagstoned streets, they are not bike friendly and continued for about 15km along the coast. We stopped for lunch as soon as we could find a suitable place, it was a relief to get off the bike after the bloody awful roads. Next stop Pompeii, hopefully with a visit to the ruins and to Vesuvius, find out in my next blog 😉