We arrived in Naples in the evening and, first things first, went for Pizza that night. I was pretty nervous, knowing very little about the city except its terrible reputation for pickpockets and purse snatchers… but here’s how we do it (not just in Naples, but wherever it might be dodgy):
We put all the kids’ gear, and anything else (my sketch book is about it) in the bottom of the push chair, in a re-usable type of shopping bag (our favourite is canvas, but what’s key is that it looks like it contains nothing of value – ours is grubby for good measure). Then Luuk and I keep our phones and wallets on our person. Luuk had the passports in a discreet wee money belt, but we both kept our phones in our pockets. I put my money in my bra. Safe as houses.
So the only concern was my phone, and I made sure to wear tight clothes with deep pockets, and kept my hand nearby. I often had my phone in my hand to take pics anyway.
We did manage to spend most of four days in Naples without incident. Not even a threat of incident. Perhaps it helped that we didn’t go out most evenings (tired kids, tired ourselves, and hotel restaurant was delish) and during the day we tended to be out of the hustle and bustle (and litter).
The first full day we went to Reggia di Caserta, the palace of Caserta, which is where they filmed Amidala’s palace in the star wars movies. And some part or other of ‘Angels and Demons’.
There’s that lion! (And, ahem, Ewan McGregor.)
Hehe! Same stairway! I’ve trod where aliens trod. (And Ewan McGregor was in this film too… hm.)
No holograms wandering about on the day we visited, I’m sorry to say…
There is a select part of the castle set up for visitors, with contemporary art and photography exhibited, as well as the reliefs and paintings that come with the castle, or at least look like they do. We visited that first, and then on to the main event – the gardens!
The view up, away from the palace, to the cascades.
Elena and I at one of the many waterfalls on the way up the garden.
Louis slept on the way up but walked back, post ice cream, happily climbing on the walls and stairs, watching the fish and fountains.
Elena watching the fish, and the ones in the water too.
Elena and I at a waterfall.
Another fountain/waterfall. They did make me thirsty.
Louis trying to catch the fish.
It was a big walk, and slow with the kids, and scorching hot, but so lovely with all the waterfalls and fountains all the way up. I tried to talk Luuk into going back on one of the horse-carts that kept passing us, but we took the shady side of the pools on the way back, and no hurry.
Elena, thankfully, slept on the hour’s return train trip – it was gorgeously calm.
The second day we stayed in the city and visited a couple of sights. First, the Cappella Sansevero, a chapel-cum-museum (two rooms in total) which houses several breathtaking sculptures including The Veiled Christ:
We stood in awe awhile here – the way they made stone appear so soft and delicate and HUMAN! Incroyable. Another of the statues included a fishing net, and we could scarcely believe it was in fact stone.
There are several castles in and around Naples but one in the centre, on a hilltop, seemed a good spot to visit next. Castel Sant’Elmo is at the top of a funicular ride… but we didn’t realise we’d actually walked to the top of the funicular and when we got on it, thinking it would take us up the hill further, it only whisked us down to the base.
Oops. So we got to ride the funicular three times in total! Most of the castle is closed off but there’s an art gallery on the roof, oddly enough, and then you can walk around the ramparts and admire the view.
Apologies for badly lit photo, but this is one of the most interesting Jesus statues I’ve seen on my travels. It put me in mind of discussions in Mike Grimshaw’s Religious Studies at classes at Canterbury University – about imagery of Jesus of Nazareth. Note the woman with the fantastic shoes.
But first, a day in Pompeii… okay, I’ll do that post tomorrow. Maybe.