Thanks to Trenitalia's "mini-fare" discounts, I took the fast train down to Naples and back on Saturday, my first visit to this chaotic but fascinating city.
One day certainly isn't enough time, but I did lots of walking up and down Naples' many hills and besides getting a peek at the city's street life, I also saw two beautiful churches, including the Duomo, as well as parts of the National Museum of Archaeology.
Of course, a real highlight was tasting some of Naples' very famous pizza. I have never quite believed all the hype around this: why would pizza in Naples be all that different from pizza anywhere else? Now, however, I am a convert. I still can't explain why, but my 5-euro pizza was the best I have ever had!
Perhaps it was the crust: very thin on the bottom (just as they are here in Rome) but tender and just a bit chewy. Even the thick outer edges, which everyone usually gives up on -- me included -- were delectable! I had a vegetable pizza with pieces of eggplant, plus red, green, and yellow peppers. Every bit was so fresh and delicious.
My first stop of the day, after a hike up from the train station, was Naples' Duomo, the Cattedrale di San Gennaro and named in honour of Saint Januarius, the city's patron saint. Apparently, it is actually dedicated to the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Which perhaps explains the medieval mosaics in a lower area of the cathedral, the Baptistry.
From there, I walked through some incredibly hectic streets (the pedestrian-only areas are filled with racing motorcycles!) to Santa Chiara, a real oasis in such a hectic city.
After lunch, I dragged my pizza-laden tummy up, up, up to the National Museum of Archaeology. Except for a large group of French students in their early teens, the place was very, very quiet. And not so well tended. Still. It was fascinating, and I joined the students (and every other visitor) in snapping a few photos. No flash, of course!!! Many of most fascinating exhibits have been excavated from the city of Pompeii.
I was especially struck by this 4th century BC sculpture of a girl (or, possibly Eros/Cupid) wrestling with a scary-looking dolphin. I guess these were the pre-Flipper days when dolphins still had teeth!