If you have only been to Venice or Rome or done an all inclusive holiday in Italy then you really need to see and do more. You are missing out on so much. Carry on reading for a look at local life and get a feel for seeing more of this beautiful country.
We got the bus from Bari to Napoli (Naples). 3 hours in comfortable seats, air conditioned, free wifi and phone charging points in every seat. I’d definitely use Flixbus again ☺
We were only staying for one day before we headed off to Procida (pronounced Pro cheeda). Naples was a HUGE city. The train station was full of different shops and cafes. In some of the smaller places we’d been to the only thing in the train station was the ticket office! 😂
A quick metro ride took us into the heart of the city. It was bursting with people and quite a shock to the system. The back streets were reminiscent of Hanoi in Vietnam. They were full of shops, apartments and a constant pipping of scooter horns warned us to stay to the sides of the alleyways.
Our airbnb apartment was right in the centre of the city in one of these grimy alleyways. I’m saying this like I don’t like it but we absolutely loved the hustle and bustle of Hanoi. After climbing 4 flights of stairs with our rucksacks on our back we reached our home for the night. Omg! I can’t believe they’d rent something like this out. It had a musty smell of wet plaster, there was no kitchen, the bath didn’t have a plug, or a shower curtain to stop the water from going on the floor. The toilet didn’t have a seat, the “white” sofa….well take a look. Thankfully it was only one night to suffer in this place. The first picture is what greeted us when we went into the apartment….”Home” 😂😂
The bathroom ceiling
It’s only saving grace was that the bed sheets were clean and fresh!
We were up bright and early the following morning due to scooters up and down the street outside and sea gulls making a racket! Lol. We headed down the dirty grimy back streets of Naples in search of a coffee and pastry. The apartment didn’t have a kitchen so we couldn’t even have a coffee when we got up! The streets are filled with flags strewn across with washing hung out from all the balconies. Scooters were whizzing up and down and we had to step into shop doorways to avoid being run over by a car!
These are the types of streets we love ❤. There is so much more character and it’s full of life. Shop keepers arranging their fruits to attract passers by and little pop-up stalls selling pastries and pizza to people on their way to work. You can see them all talking heatedly with each other. Kev said if you cut their hands of they wouldn’t be able to speak! Lol. They’re very animated and funny to watch and listen to.
These streets are where you find the best bargains, but not many tourists step onto them! They would rather stay on the main street where they feel safe and pay double the price for the same thing. We got 2 cappuccinos and 2 pastries for €4. In Italy you should only have cappuccino in the morning and on an empty stomach. The thoughts of all that milk hitting a full stomach makes them cringe! The cafe owners couldn’t do enough for us. They moved a local woman (who was just sitting and not a customer!) from an outside table so we could sit down and enjoy our purchase. They brought the Senòra another chair to sit on 😀.
We headed down to the port and boarded the ferry to our next destination…Procida (pronounced Procheeda). 40 mins later we stepped onto this beautiful small little island, which is only 4km square.
Our airbnb in Procida was something different this time……a caravan on a campsite! 😀. It was only a small tourer but had a huge garden and a seperate kitchen at the side of it. It’s all we needed. In Summer, on the Med, it’s all about living al fresco (outdoors). It had 2 double beds a wardrobe and a closet.
We had 3 days to explore the island, visit 2 ports and a marina and see as many of the 8 beaches as we could. We’d bought pasta and some jars of sauce to make a couple of dinners with but we needed to get things for lunch. On recommendation we went to the local “supermarket”. It was more a general food store. It had a lady on the till at the front and a man on the delicatessen counter at the back. Whilst pondering which type of meat to buy we heard the guy make a strange sound. We looked up and he was by the meat slicing machine clutching his finger 😲. He ran frantically to the front of the shop and I could see it was a very deep cut. The lady rang someone to take him to the hospital. Kev turns round and says “So does this mean we don’t get any meat now?” The poor guy could have lost the top of his finger and Kev’s searching in the fridges to see if there is any pre packed ham! 😂 Within 5 minutes another lady had stepped in to help out. Phew! Now we would get the buffalo mozzarella, milanese salami, sun dried tomatoes and prosciutto 😀. It was a quaint little shop on a busy high street.
The streets are extremely narrow and if a car comes you have to quickly rush into a doorway or they can’t get past! I even had to turn my feet sideways as they were that close I thought they’d get run over!!. Kev demonstrating the width of the roads below.
Our first place to visit was one of the ports. It was very much like Cinque Terra. The houses were painted different colours. This was so when the fishermen were out in their boats they could still recognise their homes.
We sat in silence watching the locals loading up their boats with water, fishing rods, rubber rings etc. Everything they’d need for a day out to sea. Except they didn’t go out to sea. They literally crossed 50 yds to the other side of the port, and got out into the water, where about 5 different families were stood in the sea, at waist height, chatting away to each other! 😁
It was blissful. Blue skies, sun shining on the water, boats bobbling around in the port. Kev said “Does it get any better than this?” He then looked at me and said “Tina I think you are an amazing person, warm and caring and you make my life complete”. Hmm any wife would love to hear this but I was waiting for the punch line! 😂…….he laughed and said “Now do you want me to tell you the truth?”
We walked along most of the coastline in the 3 days. There are little squares with quaint cafes in, and old churches ringing the bells every half an hour, and scooters everywhere!
The beaches are scenic but don’t have the picture postcard white sand, they’re all black sand. To make amends for this the water is clear, calm and inviting on a hot summers day. On one of the beaches you could see Mount Vesuvius in the background letting off some steam!
The harbours and ports are lovely. Filled with different types of sailing vessels but the one thing that disappointed us was there was nowhere offering boat trips. We just sat on a bench admiring the views from each harbour. It was nice to have a few days chilling after being in cities.
Each night after exploring and sitting on the beach we’d come back to the campsite, get a freezing cold shower (no hot ones) then have a huge bottle (66cl) of ice cold Peroni before going back to the caravan to sit outside eating our pasta. Perfect! Made me miss our motorhome. We have planned a week in it on a campsite near Morecambe Bay when we get back but I can’t see the weather being as glorious as it is here. 😎
We treat ourselves one night to 2 huge steaks then did a salad of fresh buffalo mozzarella, olives, sundried tomatoes, fresh cherry tomatoes on the vine and chunks of cucumber. Simple but delicious. I have never liked mozzarella. I always found it to be tasteless. Now the buffalo variety is rich and creamy and heavenly! It’s a lot more expensive and works out around €1.10 a ball but so worth it. We’d buy 6 balls, have a couple for lunch and then save one for and 5pm snack.😁
Our time on Procida went way too fast. Our next and final part of this journey was back to Naples for 5 days.
We were staying in the historic part of Naples. It was a bit better area than our last visit. We paid the same amount for a full apartment this time.
Wowzers someone had turned the heat up since we were here. It was 31 but saying it felt like 36 degrees. Naples isn’t the nicest place to visit. They say they only have a red light on the traffic lights to brighten up the city as it’s so seedy. 😂 The main streets are fine it’s when you go off the beaten track that it gets a bit worse for wear.
The back streets are narrow, grimy and intriguing. You’d think that the whole of Italy is nice and that everyone is smartly dressed…wrong. It’s a great place to people watch though. Haha.
This old man looked very trendy in his linen trousers with no socks! He was in his 70’s sat having a coffee.
The streets are that narrow that you can’t always get 1 car down easily never mind 2! We saw a few cars that had suffered. 😂
Each different region has its own speciality food so we always endeavour to try it. In Naples it is pizza, which have a soft doughy base like a naan bread. Baba (a sponge soaked in a rum syrup and sometimes filled with cream) and Sfogliatella (a crispy layered filo pastry shaped like an oyster shell and filled with an orange and cinnamon flavoured custard)
(Rum) Baba . My mum used to love these in the 1980s!
There is a smarter side to Naples. It has a lovely waterfront where locals will walk on a Sunday evening. The apartments are much nicer and the shops are designer.
There is a marina with a tiny beach which the locals flock to at anytime of day to soak up the sun.
You can see Vesuvius in the distance with boats offering trips and transfers to other destinations.
We took a train to Pompeii. I don’t really like visiting ruins, they just don’t do it for me but I thought seeing as we are here and so close….The site was huge. They were charging €15 per person to have a guided tour, plus your €13 entry fee! Being from Yorkshire we decided to just walk around ourselves and save money 😂. A couple of the sites were quite scenic and photo worthy.
But there’s only so long you can walk around looking at things like this…😣
Then again there were some highlights. This was snuggled up in the shade of one of the ruins 😍
We left and went back to Naples. We had planned to climb Vesuvius but what I thought was steam turned out to be huge fires on it and residents had been evacuated so they had closed it to the public. It seems the mafia had been accused of starting the fires by setting fire to petrol soaked rags tied to cats tails and letting them run into the forests on Vesuvius. There were loads of dead cats found in the carnage. This is not the first time it had happened. It’s the mafia’s way of showing their power or disapproval to situations. This one seems to be because there is an illegal landfill site and also the government wanted to start construction work nearby. The fires were stillstill destroying the woodland 5 days after we arrived so it was closed to public visits.
You can’t get bored in Naples if you enjoy city life. We can do so many cities but then yearn for some form water, the sea, a lake or a river. The city is big enough to wander around for days discovering palazzos to have a coffee in, wander around round looking in the bread, ham and cheese shops, grabbing a bargain in the markets or popping into a church to admire the paintings on the ceilings.
We didn’t see any “houses” whilst there. Everyone seems to be in apartments that stand around 4 storeys high. You often see a delivery driver turn up on a scooter with a loaf of bread and then a long rope with a bucket attached gets dropped over the side then pulled up once the bread has been put in.
Ambling along the streets you can hear families shouting, above you in their apartments, at each other or across the street to their neighbours. When it’s hot they will sit out on the tiny balcony watching the world go by whilst trying to catch as much of the breeze as possible. You expect the shutters on the windows to be thrown open and bucket of water to be thrown out of the window at any time…it just has that feel 😂
To get away from the rat race for a bit we took the train to Sorento, we had been told it was beautiful and so many people we know that have been have loved it. We couldn’t wait to be “wowed “.
Unfortunately we didn’t get the wow factor. In the Lonely Planet guide it did say that it was a place specifically for tourists and it was right! So many people have said to us “Italy is expensive”. Well we have never found this until we came here! We had a walk to the Marina Grande. There was a tiny beach and they were charging €10 for 2 chairs and an umbrella. .not bad for Italy. It was an “ok” marina and was filled with people taking in the sights, little restaurants with all their menus in English, and over priced bars. They were charging €3 for a small bottle of water and €6 for a beer!! 😲
We decided to explore more of the resort. We got chatting to a couple from Derby. They loved it as they didn’t need to move from their room in the hotel if they didn’t want to. It had a huge balcony with sunbeds on and they were staying half board. They’d been in Sorrento for nearly a week and only came down to the main town twice! I suppose if you have a busy life and just want to chill out and relax on holiday then I can understand. Thankfully we all like different things from holidays. That would be our idea of hell, we don’t seem to spend more than a few days in one place before we feel we need to move on and explore.
We wandered through the town of Sorento and every shop seemed to be a souvenir shop, all the shopkeepers spoke English to us, we really didn’t like it, but each to their own. There was French, German, American, Scottish, Irish and English accents but didn’t hear very many Italian accents. We weren’t used to speaking in English in shops. We’d normally go in and say “Parlo Inglese?” And get a shake of the head or a “so so” move of the hand. Then I’d speak in Italian to them. We love the authenticity of different places and to walk down the street and see an English pub advertising fish and chips and full English breakfasts, seeing the Daily Mail on tables in cafes just doesn’t do it for us and it’s not the real Italy. Luckily this seems to only be in Sorento.
The town of Sorento is quite high up so you have to walk down to the “beach”/sea. There were private beaches with signs saying “Pete’s Beach” etc. They were basically cordoned off areas with a small pier with sunbeds on it. They were cramming people in for the heady price of €16 EACH!! How the hell people can go for a week and pay this every day I don’t know. It must cost them a fortune. Maybe this is why people stay in their hotels and make use of the pool.
The birds eye view of the people packed piers
Some young teenagers were sat on the walkway/pavements rather than pay for the sunbeds haha. We carried on walking round and found a deserted beach with only 2 people sat on it!? It was near a harbour so not sure if people knew about it but we sat and made the most of the sun and threw bread in the sea for the fish. We’d taken our cooler bag so had plenty of ice cold water to keep us going but we had managed to find a shop that sold bottles for 50 cents 😉. If you freeze a couple of small bottles of water overnight and put them in the cooler bag it keeps everything else cold and your water lasts all day 😁
We were laid on the beach when Kev turned and looked at me and said “I still love you even though you’re ugly….I like fat ugly women! ” 😔 good job I know he’s joking!
A few photos of the town of Sorento. Nice place but not for us and not like any part of Italy we have ever been to (and we’ve been to over 45 different places in Italy).
We are planning to come back to see more of Southern Italy next year and was planning on staying in Sorento for a few days and visiting a few places on the Amalfi coast. Instead were going to hire a little car (like the one below we spotted 😂) and drive down the coastline to the Cilento and Calabria regions making our way to Sicily.
I love this little Fiat Uno 😍 and it’s perfect for getting around the streets in.
On our last day in Italy we decided to do the underground tour of Naples. There is a whole underground world under the old town that was excavated 5000 years ago by the Greeks. The Neapolitans used this as an aqueduct but had to be closed in 1884 due to a cholera outbreak that got into the water. In the second world war the water was drained and it was used as air raid shelters. It was cold and damp and sometimes quite confined walking through the tunnels but very interesting.
We finished the day off by taking the funicular to the top near the castle to see the view of the city. It was probably the nicest city view I’ve seen. All the streets were going in different directions, the buildings were facing different ways and were multi coloured.
We headed back to our apartment for a home cooked pasta dish. Orrichiette (little ear shapes) with a ragu sauce and grated Pecorino on top 😊
We fly back to the UK in the morning to spend a week in our “home” before we do our next house/pet sit.
We love our little home but will miss Italy.
Thanks for taking the time to read this. It’s much appreciated 😀