Posted by inka on Nov 21, 2012 in italy
, Travel tips
True to style – robbed in Naples
A few days ago, my condo has been burgled and an entire safe been ripped out of the wall. I’m trying to come to terms with the trauma (I nearly walked in on the thieves ) by remembering a previous bad experience which I was able to leave behind. Hence this re-post:
True to style: robbed in Naples/Italy
I’m getting pretty disenchanted with Italy. First there was the train ride. I choose to go from Genoa to Napoli by train, not any old train either but an IC. Being used to the fast, clean and luxurious ICs of Germany, France and Spain, I got the first shock when the old, green so called fast train from Turin to Salerno coughed into the station.
Previously, I had managed a unique feat: I got lost in Genoa’s train station. Luckily I had come to the station with an hour to spare and that was really good, because I wasn’t able to find platform 20. This had to do with two things: indications are mis- leading, the signs and arrows pointed in one direction and after I ended up deep down in the station in a totally abandoned area and had made my way back to the surface, it turned out that I had to go in the opposite direction. Walking along a path, platforms 13 ,14 and all through to 19 turned off, but 20 was blocked by building works, scaffolding and wire mashes. Foiled again. Then I walked up to platform 19 and low and behold, a tiny bridge lead finally to platform 20.
Normally indicators are displayed on the platform which show in which section your carriage will come to a stop. Not so in Genoa’s central train station.
By luck I stood right where carriage 8 stopped when the sorry, old train appeared. The steps to get on are chest high and you have to swing your bag on with a flourish which means you are well advised to carry only as much as you can easily lift. That done, I found my seat, in a compartment which had last been cleaned in the 20th century. I won’t even mention that state of the toilets but equally bad was the fact that a train on a 12 hour journey did not have a restaurant car.
Only a trolley dolley came through with a few (warm) soft drinks, coffee which tasted like dish water and some very dubious sandwiches. In other words, I went thirsty and starving for the entire 8 hours my journey lasted. I left my seat alone and sat in the aisle on a fold out seat because I could at least stretch my legs, had a large – albeit appallingly dirty – window to myself and didn’t have to sit on upholstery the original color of which could not be identified.
I finally arrived in Naples at 10pm, took a taxi and found my hotel a very pleasant surprise. As you can see, there is always a silver lining, but not for long.
This morning, being a Sunday, I decided to go to the National Museum. I found my way, using the Metro and spent a few hours in a fabulous museum, admiring many of the works of art which have been excavated from Pompeii. Visitors were even allowed to take photographs and I happily snapped along. Where are they, you might ask? I’m coming to it.
Back in Piazza Garibaldi at the main train station I made my way to my hotel and was waiting at a traffic light to cross the road. And there is happened, true to style: a Vespa whizzed past and the guy on the back seat ripped my bag out of my hand. Puff… all gone.
The irony of the matter is, that I had taken precautions. I was unobtrusively dressed in black and wasn’t even carrying a bag, only a small brown plastic carrier bag with a little money, my street map and…my camera. Wisely I had left everything of importance in the room safe of my hotel room, but the loss of my pictures hurts more than the loss of the camera. And of course, my pride is hurt too.
The fact that despite being a seasoned traveler who knows how to be careful you can still be hit is troubling. To add to my miserable mood, I have to say that Naples is dirty, noisy and populated by dubious characters. Guys are lingering at every street corner, people are rude and I’m seriously thinking about cutting my stay short. I’ll sleep over it and see how I feel tomorrow, but right now, the next airport and the next plane out to anywhere looks like a very tempting option. I’ll see, but writing about it already helps and maybe doing something good to fellow travelers who think about visiting Naples: believe all the bad you hear about the place, it’s true.
Posted by inka on Apr 8, 2012 in italy
I have to thank Sophie of Sophie’s World for alerting me to the fantastic competition ‘Go with Oh’ has on. You can become their autumn blogger by entering the competition and following the rules. Then, if you are lucky, you may be the chosen one to spend a whole month in the European city of your dreams and tell everybody about your experience and adventure.
I would love to go to Venice. I have only been once before, on the occasion of Carnival and, apart from joining in the festivities, like attending the opening ball in a palazzo and strutting around in my costume, I haven’t had much opportunity to visit the places in Venice I have dreamed about for a long time.
- Carnival in Venice
- 1 Having chocolate cake in Café Florian
Every big city has an emblematic café or restaurant no self respecting visitor can pass up. Venice is no exception. Café Florian under the arcades in St. Mark’s Square is the place where Tout Venice stops by for coffee, chocolate cake and to see and be seen. This pastime has a very long tradition, as Café Florian first opened its door in 1720 and the establishment is a contender for older coffee house in continuous operation. Artists, writers, painters, journalist and other celebrities frequented Café Florian since the beginning, among them Goldoni, Goethe and Casanova, the latter maybe attracted by the fact that the Florian was the only coffee house which allowed women.
It’s not only the drinks and cakes which make the Café attractive but also the opulent decorations. I want to look at the Sala degli Uomini Illustri, the room of famous men, depicting portraits of the 10 most famous ‘sons’ of Venice.
2. Going on a Mystery Tour
Venice is nearly an epitome of drama, intrigue and mystery. Her grand palazzi as well as the narrow alleys, the countless canals and dark squares evoke images of conspiracies, murder and mayhem, of bodies floating in the Laguna and masked men and women hurrying along under cover of darkness. To my delight, I saw a Mystery Tour on foot advertised, the tour guide being an actor in period costume. Hearing the tales of the past, finding Casanova’s hiding places and much more is an adventure I’d love to experience. The tour will lead into hidden corners of Venice a visitor might never find on his own.
- Guide for the Mystery Tour
- 3 Watching the glass blowers on Murano
In 1291, when glass making already had a tradition in the city of Venice, the Venetian Republic ordered all glass blowers to move to the island of Murano for fear of fire to the many wooden houses from the furnaces. That’s when the history of Murano glass really began. The artists invented the finest methods to produce outstanding objects made from glass, incrusted with gold thread, multi colored, imitating jewels and incorporating enamel. Their craft was passed on over the centuries and to this day, Murano glass is appreciated and collected all over the world.
Glass sculpture in Murano
I want to see the glass museum in the Palazzo Giustinian and to watch the glass blowers in fascination as they produce the most delicate vases, flowers and chandeliers out of a red hot lump of glass.
4. Rialto bridge and market
The Rialto bridge is one of the architectural icons of the City of Venice. The current stone structure, consisting of two ramps leading to a portico in the middle, dates from 1591. There were a few predecessors to the current bridge, the first a floating bridge and the others wooden bridges which burnt down. The importance of the bridge increased with the expansion of the Rialto market, a paradise of the freshest fruit, meat, fish and vegetables and a place no self respecting Venetian housewife will ever pass by when shopping for the ingredients of the daily meals.
Having the chance of living in Venice for a month in autumn/winter, when the summer tourist hordes are gone and the locals have reclaimed their city, is a unique experience to live, shop and cook like a Venetian. I want to rub shoulders with the haggling shoppers and to taste the samples, proffered by the vociferous vendors. Then I want to cross over the Rialto bridge with my string bag full of the freshest delicacies and enjoy the splendid view of the palaces lining the Grand Canal. And along the way, I might make a few more purchases at the shops and stalls which line the bridge.
5. Enjoying an opera at La Fenice
I love opera. The music, the drama, the costumes and I can’t think of a better venue that Venice’s opera house: La Fenice. Not least, because the building itself has plenty of drama in its past. Again, fire was the culprit. Twice the opera house burnt down and then, in 1996, disaster struck again. This time it was arson, two electricians deliberately caused the fire because their company was facing heavy fines over the delay in construction work they were carrying out on the building. They went to prison and yet, again, La Fenice rose from the ashes to open with La Traviata in 2004.
Using old plans and photigrphas, the opera was rebuilt in the original style, which pleased many but annoyed a few who thought Venice should have used her spirit of self invention and design a totally new opera house. Many famous names of the world of opera , in particular that of Verdi are connected with La Fenice and I’d love to dress up and enjoy an evening of Italian Opera at its best.
Apart from my five favorite spots there are of course St. Mark’s Squre, the Palace of the Doge, the length of the Grand Canal, a ride with a Gondola, a visit to the cemeteries of Burano and much much more to see and do in Venice. A month will fly by like a day.