Naples, Napoli, capital of the south, home of the Mafia and gangsters and exploding Mt Vesuvius and Pompeii frozen in time. A risky place; a place with a reputation.
The moment I stepped into the sunlight eight hours ago and began the trek to our accommodation down Via Toledo I knew that this place had something special for me. Rome has elegance and ruins and history, but Naples has the edge - charm, energy to burn, street life where the locals outnumber the tourists, rough edges abound and superb old palaces and civic administration centres sit in a state of decay Rome could not cope with.
Palazzo Reale is enormous and sits at the end of Via Toledo fronting the expansive square which is Piazza del Plebiscito (the name says it all). It is a functioning administrative centre but almost impossible to navigate and it is in great need of some tender loving care. There was a protest going on by some builders on the Pallazo scaffolding (they've begun restoration work) exhorting the lavorare (workers I think) to take action about something. They banged metal rods against the iron work creating a shocking piece of music.
Naples just seems to speak in a really unpretentious way while full of contradictions and surprises. A case in point - the Central Station where I fully expected to be mugged and robbed as I arrived has been transformed into a shiny piece of world class architecture.
That was my first shock. And then it just kept getting better. I love it L.O.V.E. IT.
My apologies for my over enthusiastic review.I'm not usually one for superlatives - in fact i am normally an enemy of the over use of the superlative. In this case I make an exception. Of course day two may prove me to be a naive fool.