Walking is a great way to see the city, and to me is the only real way. Each of the areas of Naples are so distinct, and the only way to get a feel for them is by foot.
You can stop for coffee on a whim, grab a small pizza for a couple of euros, wander into tiny shops and pause to peer onto a gorgeously ornate church. While a little rough around the edges, the most beautiful buildings, churches and paintings await you around every hard earned step. And steps! There will be a few - you will not be missing leg day in Naples.
However, despite these many advantages, it does mean you navigating the Naples traffic with only a bag to hide behind. Therefore, remember to always be aware! Mopeds will not stick to the right side of the street, and may even join you on the pavement. Cars and vans far too big for the tiny streets they are on will perform Knight Bus style fetes to get around tight corners, so always look around for them even on the narrowest of streets! Most people beep, more for warning than annoyance, but some do not.
The main roads require confidence. Most cars will stop for you if you show intention of crossing (i.e... step into the road) but mopeds, of course, will mostly try and go around you. There are places to cross with white lines on the road, and if you're too nervous just wait for an elderly Italian lady to step fearlessly into the road and scuttle behind her. There are traffic lights, but most have the mentality that red only counts as a stop signal if someone is crossing.
Most people are very aware, so don't be too nervous and don't let the close mopeds frazzle your nerves. Just keep your wits about you. And maybe some earphones for the beeping.
Some words for today:
Attenzione - attention/careful
Permesso - permission, let me through!
Posso - can I
Mi potete aiutare? - Can you help me?
Dove sono? - where am I?
Queuing (but not really) in Naples:
I come from the land of queuing, a fact I had not fully appreciated until moving to Naples. While I know no one is being rude, not everyone feels the need to season their sentences with a dozen pleases and thank yous, it does do well to be prepared for your trip to Naples.
- People are incredibly friendly, open and eager to help if you are lost (even breaking out their English for me when my poor Italian fails us both), however this won't always translate to thank yous when you let someone pass or doors being held open. At first it was a little surprising, but I am used to it now. Mostly I have found that taking the lead, smiling as I pass and pausing for people, is usually met with a similar response.
- Be assertive! There isn't a 'one queue' system in most places, including the supermarket and cash machines (in general). The number of times I have stood expecting the next till/cash machine that is free to be mine, to have someone stand directly near it and take it from me. Solution: stand near the one you want. Pick a queue in the supermarket and stick with it!
- This leads us onto, the supermarket... Your things with be pushed through with great speed, don't panic! Once you've handed over the money, they'll leave you to it to finish your packing. There are sometimes people around to help to - though be sure to give them some money if you accept this help.
- The streets are hectic and people will stop instantly in front of you, or veer suddenly to the side to look in a shop window. Keep an eye out! This and the slightly uneven stones... you'll probably trip at some point. Don't worry too much, everyone has.
Be respectful of others, but take care of your own place in the queue! Everyone is doing the same, and if you need help - just ask. I can only think of one truly rude moment, where a man ordering various things from the counter knocked into me twice (almost causing me to fall) as he moved along the counter choosing things as I tried to pay. Luckily my visiting friend caught me. Other than that, just pay attention! You never know when a moped may be joining you on the pavement - speaking of which... look out for the next blog post!
How to coffee in Naples:
A must-do in Naples that is fraught with difficulties for the tourist or immigrant such as myself. While I, and my holidaying visitors, normally opt for the slightly more expensive option of table service and cappuccinos - you should definitely try coffee Neapolitan style at least once on your trip. So, in order for you to stroll in like a seasoned pro, here is your step-by-step guide:
1. First you would have already very discernibly chosen your coffee shop for its excellent coffee and the employees quick coffee making prowess (psst, hint: read our next post on coffee bars and cafes in Naples).
2. You will stroll in, go to the till and ask for "un caffe" with a few extra "per favores" and "grazies" thrown in there if you are anything like me. This should usually cost between one euro and one euro fifty.
3. You then take the receipt they offer you and take it to the bar where, if it is quiet, the person will already be readying your espresso and laying out a saucer and spoon. If the bar is very busy, you will find yourself waving your receipt along with several others.
4. Having been given your espresso, you will rapidly stir to cool it and then just as rapidly drink up. The water you have been given will either have been already drunk, or drained post coffee. Either way someone will tell you you did it in the wrong order. You may also have been asked whether you prefer 'minerale' or 'frizzante' - fizzy - or 'naturale'.
5. Finally, you will leave as quickly as you came in. Now a cool, coffee drinking Neapolitan.
Awkwardly not every bar is the same, some will call over rather than bothering with receipts, others are happy for you to order from the bar (more like I am used to) but the majority work on the above system. Just walk in casually, confidently, test out your Italian and, most importantly, enjoy your coffee.
Happy caffeine fuelling tutti,
Some phrases for today:
Un caffè - one coffee (an espresso unless stated otherwise)
Due caffè - ditto, but two of them
Espresso - small, strong shot of coffee in a tiny cup
How much? - Quanto costa
Can I have? - Posso avere?
Questa/o - This
Grazie - Thank you
Per favore - Please (because I love some politeness - speaking of which, don't miss our next blog post!)