Hurrah! We’ve finally made it to the end of what should have been a 3-part series about my weekend in Pompeii. If you’ve made it this far, congratulations! I’m now going to finish off by telling you about visiting a castle, eating the best and original pizza, and the utter fear I felt when witnessing a small dog having some kind of seizure because of its stupid owner.
So, it’s now Monday morning. Adele had to leave early to go to work so I got the train later to meet up with her. It was a pretty uneventful trip but the views of the coast were breathtaking. When I got into Naples, I waited for Adele in the metro. As I was waiting, I noticed a stray dog curled up in a ball. He was pretty dirty and had a sore nose. This is one thing I will never get used to in Italy. The amount of dogs you see running around is heartbreaking. He was obviously wary of people but at one point, an older lady approached him and threw down some sausages for him to eat. You can’t imagine the joy and gratitude I felt at this lady’s small gesture. My faith in humanity was restored just a little. I even started googling dog rescue organisations as I waited for Adele. If I lived in Naples, I have a feeling that I would spend my days walking around feeding all the strays.
When Adele arrived, we headed outside of the station. As we walked out, I noticed that there were loads of giant, brightly-coloured, plastic snails all over the station. I asked Adele what it was all about and she didn’t know for sure but surmised that it was perhaps a dig at the local public transport for being so slow! As I stopped to take a picture, we witnessed our second dog-related drama. A woman started screaming and freaking out because her small chihuahua was having some kind of fit. It turns out that she had managed to drop him on his head. How on Earth this could happen, I have no idea but it always angers me when I see people with these little dogs and they treat them like fashion accessories. I’m sat in my flat now and have just witnessed a chihuahua running off down the street while being chased by its owners and then being stepped on. If you are travelling with your dog, especially in a crowded area like the metro, keep it in a carrier. Adele got the details of a vet and the woman and her partner left to find it. The dog seemed to be a little better as they left, so hopefully he was just a bit dizzy from the fall. Adele and I continued on our journey, both very shaken by the event as we are both big animal lovers. It took quite some time for our hearts to stop racing. Poor little Pedro.
We headed to Castel Nuovo, also known as the Maschio Angioino (please don’t ask me to pronounce it), which is situated near the Municipio metro station. Entrance was €6 (Hooray! I’ve finally figured out how to use the € button!) so we went inside for a look around. We looked around the first floor, where we saw The Baron’s Hall, The Armoury Hall (where you can see Roman ruins under the glass floor, including human remains), Purgatory Chapel and the Palatine Chapel. After a rather confusing journey up and down in the wrong lift, we finally made our way to the third floor of the museum to check out the various works of art they have on show. You can also see an original bronze door that used to be the entrance to the castle. The door depicts the historical battle by the rebels of baron Ferrante d’Aragona who defeated Giovanni of Anjou and took over Naples. There is also a cannon ball lodged in the bottom part of the door. The explanation for this is that the door was taken by Charles VIII after a battle. As the ship was heading back to France, it was attacked by the Genoese, who won the battle and sent the door back to Naples.
We spent perhaps almost two hours in the museum looking at the various rooms and artefacts. When we finished, we headed to L’Antica Pizzeria Da Michele. For those of you who have seen the film based on the book “Eat. Pray. Love”, this is the pizzeria from the famous scene where Julia Roberts eats pizza. Adele warned me that we had to get there early otherwise we could end up having to wait two hours. “Two hours for pizza?”, I thought, “This had better be good!” Da Michele first opened in 1870 and they have been making the pizza the same way ever since. There are only two pizza options available – Margherita or Marinara – as they say that a pizza should be simple, without any fancy ingredients, as all that “junk” detracts from the true flavour of the pizza. In fact, there is a poem on the wall dedicated to this exact opinion. Luckily, margherita is my favourite pizza, despite many of my friends’ despair when I order it in a restaurant, so I was more than happy!
When you arrive at the restaurant, you have to go inside and tell them how many people are in your group and they will give you a number. You then have to wait your turn. We arrived a little after 12:30, which Adele warned me was a little late. The best time to arrive is at around midday. If you go at one, be prepared for a long wait. So we got our number and waited as patiently as possible outside. The restaurant has tables of mostly four, so if you are fewer than four, you will be seated with other diners. Adele and I were sat next to two young Asian tourists who were very excited by the whole experience. There is not much room to move once you’re inside, so if you don’t like eating in close quarters with people you don’t know, this restaurant is not for you. Once seated, one waiter will take your pizza order, remembering everything without writing it down, and another will take your drinks order. They really are very efficient considering the chaos that is going on all around them.
As we waited for our pizza to arrive, I sipped my beer and took some photos of the little restaurant I was in, all while the father next to me tried to get his kid to finish his pizza. I looked at the size of the pizza and realised I was in trouble. How on earth was I going to eat all of that?! As Adele warned me when I arrived, “Qui si mangia!” And then it was my turn. Our pizzas arrived and I simply didn’t know where to start so, like all good Italian girls, I chose to just dive right in! It seems there are two kinds of pizza eaters: 1) Those who use a knife and fork (what is with that?!) and 2) Those who eat with their hands, like me. Listen, I’m all for good table manners but pizza is designed to be eaten with your hands. Just cut a slice and get stuck in. So was it worth the wait and the hype? Absolutely. I don’t know if the pizza really is better there or perhaps it’s just the atmosphere that makes it that way, but I will definitely be going back for more. Although, the pizza did beat me, unfortunately, and I wasn’t able to finish it.
It was now time to go home, so Adele and I headed to the station where I had to get the bus back to Sulmona and she had to head off to work. I bought my ticket and had half an hour before my bus so went in search of a toilet. I found them in the main train station where they charged me 1€ for the privilege. Seriously, peeing in Naples is expensive! As I headed out of Naples on the bus, it started to rain. It had held off all weekend and it seemed a fitting way to leave.
I will be back soon.