Sunday, January 25, 2015

Naples Take One

Upon arrival in Naples, a well-dressed man named Mario (not pictured) showed up with three rental bikes, helmets, some patch kits, extra inner tubes, locks, a GPS, and panniers.  He then grabbed our suitcases and said, "You bike to B and B from here, eh? No problem, eh?  Okay. Ciao!"   The bikes weren't exactly top-of-the-line touring bikes, but they would do (Mark was happy to score a Bianchi cruiser, even though he later learned it was cursed).  So, off we went.  It was only supposed to be eight miles to the B-n-B. No problemo, right?

While Mark tried to calibrate the GPS, Leaf decided to check out his rented wheels. He wanted to carry his gear in panniers and Mark and Monet were more than happy to let him do so.  (He is an amazing 8 year old if you ask his biased mama.)

Ten minutes into the ride, things didn't look so good.  The GPS took our crew into north Naples. . .   Below, you can see Mark banging on his GPS to no avail ("Wait a second, are we seriously in Secondigliano? This is not safe. One wrong turn and we'll be swimming with the fishes!") and Leaf formulating a carefully constructed argument over which direction is north.  Meanwhile, Monet decided it was time to set up her tripod and capture the grittiness of Naples. After checking various maps (and the location of the sun!), the crew decided to ignore the GPS and wing it, heading south towards the water, gripping a printout from the B-and-B, and following the smell of pizza through the old city of Naples.

An aside on graffiti from Monet. "Maybe the illustration above is what to do when you get plugged up from eating too much pizza? Seriously Naples graffiti is gorgeous.  I read somewhere that Naples is like a beautiful woman with dirty bare feet and I think that is a perfect way to describe it."

Anyway, when we saw the above graffiti we were actually pretty close to our B-and-B but had no clue. Well, no clue until a silver car started chasing after us, honking, and a strange man stuck his head out and whistled. "Monet? Is this you?  We have looking all over for you!  You were supposed to arrive an hour and half ago! It is repose!"  The man turned out to be a friend of the owner of the B-and-B and he kindly directed us through the broken streets, where we stopped not less than a quarter-mile away. When we stopped, the man let us into our new lodgings.  He was agitated and spoke broken English and immediately needed to see our passports. We apologized over and over, but honestly we thought it was a miracle that the man found us in the middle of Naples. Mark, embarrassed at his poor navigating skills, became convinced that benevolent people like this must pop up all the time throughout southern Italy to help lost cyclists.  (Thank you, Naples!)

So, here we are in Naples. . .

Above, Leaf and Monet get somewhat settled in our B-and-B. Our next goal, after no sleep and surviving our first bike ride in Naples was to get pizza. We had scored a list of a few of the best pizzerias in Naples (provided by Caleb Shiff of Pizzicletta in Flagstaff, the greatest pizzaiolo in the states. . . Thanks, Caleb!).  His out of this world pizzas were definitely an inspiration for this trip.

We aimed for the first on the list, and after meandering through the old city and finding the magic spot, we discovered the wait at pizzeria Da Michele was 5 hours long (see below) so we took a number and went to check out another pizzeria thinking we would come back for a second serving or have a very late dinner if nothing else panned out.

We wandered down the list and found the bigger and zanier pizzeria, Di Matteo. The crowds were just as large and an old cook stood out in front barking names and back-talking with the natives. We're not sure how we got into Di Matteo so quickly (twenty minutes).  We were convinced Leaf's pleas had something to do with it.  He kept going up to the old cook and saying,  Mangia!  When we got in, we ordered Margarita and Arugala pizzas and they were both stellar.  Afterwards, Leaf was dancing in the streets (see below).

The next day. . .

The morning was gray and drizzly. We went out in search of breakfast and stopped at the first hole in the wall that we saw AND. . . it was amazing. Espresso and chocolate croissants, the perfect breakfast. Also, Leaf discovered the wonders of Nutella. He suddenly started wearing it like war paint. Before we hit the road, Monet managed to sneak into a store and buy some Italian boots, but with no extra room in her panniers, she left them in the hotel with the stored luggage.  Also, we managed to shoot a few photos near the docks (below).

Leaf (above) captures something amazing on film (below). . . although we are not sure what.

Monet's Mileage Count:

  • Napoli Airport to our AirBnB 8 miles (not including wrong turns)

Travel Tip:

If you have a smart phone, go to a train station and buy a local sim card.  This makes life much easier.  You can call your B-and-B and tell them how late you will be.  You can use the phone's GPS and compare results with your wonky Italian GPS. And when completely befuddled, you can google various words and phrases (and place names!).


Leaf getting ready for Pompeii. He looks determined doesn't he?

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