“Rome is stately and impressive; Florence is all beauty and enchantment; Genoa is picturesque; Venice is a dream city; but Naples is simply fascinating”.– Lilian Whiting
On the way back to Ercolano railway station we had a little bit of a misunderstanding about coffee and cake. Kim wanted coffee and cake and spotted a café and I rejected it because it was on the shady side of the street confidently predicting that there was sure there would be another one further along in the sun. As it turned out there wasn’t so we stopped instead at a bar with a pushy waitress and had an alternative beer. We should have been eating gooey cake but I was in a sticky situation!
The train ride back to Naples was less crowded and a little more comfortable than the outward journey and thirty minutes or so later we arrived at the railway terminus and our plan now was to walk directly to the harbour and the sea of the Bay of Naples.
The direct route was along the arterial Corso Umberto I (an unfortunate king who was assassinated in 1900) and brought us to a magnificent statue of King Victor Emanuel II, his father and the first King of United Italy in 1861. This was not a pleasant walk I have to say, too much growling traffic and a rather featureless route, I preferred the noisy and chaotic back streets.
We reached the sea at the Castel Nuevo and the Palazza Reale, once a royal palace but now a museum and an opera house. We originally planned to go further but we now agreed that after a long day this was rather ambitious so we turned our backs on the seafront and made our way back to the accommodation passing again through the crumbling architecture of the back streets.
I had a mind to visit an underground exhibition of a subterranean archaeological project called ‘Underground Naples’ but Kim wondered why we might go underground to look at Roman houses when only this morning we had seen them on the surface on in the sunshine. I had to agree with her logic so we went for a drink at a pavement bar instead before going back for a short rest and preparation for evening meal.
There was no debate to be had about this and we returned to the pizzeria that we had enjoyed last night but this time we had double helpings of the buffalo mozzarella starter and we shared a pizza with a house red in a cracked pot to compliment it.
The following morning our plan was to finish what we started yesterday and make the long walk to the seafront and we set off soon after breakfast and after only thirty minutes arrived at Piazza del Plebiscito (the header picture) an elegant square first commissioned in the memory of Napoleon Bonaparte but famous most of all because in a public vote in 1860 this is where the Kingdom of Naples agreed to become part of United Italy. a sort of reverse Brexit as it were!
As we walked north along the side of the Bay we knew that we were in an altogether different area of Naples, no grime here, just swanky yachts to our left and grand expensive hotels to our right. I recall reading once, some time ago, that the Bay of Naples was the most horribly polluted part of the Mediterranean Sea but someone has been clearing it up and not any more it isn’t. The water was crystal clear and people were swimming in the sea and fishermen and a procession of boats were making their way to the shell fish harvesting areas.
At the Castel dell’Ovo admission to the once mighty fortress was free (which is always a bonus) so we climbed to the top and enjoyed views of Vesuvius on one side and the waterfront of Naples on the other. Let me say, no one should miss visiting Naples, it was once part of the Grand Tour of Europe and surely it should be again. Just my opinion.
It was busy today so after the castle we strayed back inland back towards Piazza del Plebiscito where it was time for a drinks break and this is where we suffered the indignity of being thrown out of a restaurant.
It advertised bargain price beer and wine and as we examined the menu a waiter gathered us up like a shepherd and insisted that we go inside. He showed us to a table and provided us with menus. We told him that we only wanted a drink and this tipped him over the edge. His eyes began to swivel, his arms began to flay and he lost all sense of volume control. This is not a bar it is a restaurant, he yelled, withdrew the menus, dragged us out of our seats, pushed us towards the door and slammed it shut behind us with a resounding crash that almost took it off its hinges. I looked back, the staff were sniggering, they thought it was amusing so I gave them a sarcastic smile and a tossed them a dismissive wave to tell them that so did I.
I haven’t been thrown out of a restaurant since 2004 in the Old Town in Prague for exactly the same reason.
Opposite was a pavement bar which also suggested cheap drink prices so we stopped there instead but when I called for the bill it seems the drinks that we had ordered were not included in the offer. I wasn’t going to argue, I should have read the small print – another travel lesson learned!