See Naples Without Dying


The Easter break arrived in time for a cheeky trip to Naples. I’d not been, it’s not far away and it’s weekend friendly. Cultural overload, I imagined, too much to see in a short break. Except that it’s now Saturday and I haven’t even started, because Naples misled me; instead of hitting the National Architectural Museum we wandered onto a boat and ended up having an extended lunch in a lemon grove on Procida, one of the Flegreen islands off the coast of Italy.

I realised that in my youth I defined many places by their museums and bucket-list sights, part of the generation that changed the nature of travel, and not for the better. By the early 1970s cheap tourism had become the punchline to a national joke. Now it has woken many to the threat posed by sheer numbers. No matter how much I’d like to imagine I’m helping local economies I’m adding to the problem.

Now we’re more likely to avoid tourist-clogged sights for backstreets, find a room to rent in a neighbourhood with a strong local identity and avoid traditional guide book suggestions by going on instinct.

Naples reminds me of Marseilles, a working port, run down, noisy, dirty, energetic and wonderful if you can blend in a little (being blond I’ve not much chance of that). One of the best moments so far has been standing in a confluence of alleyways past midnight as twenty or thirty motor scooters all overloaded with passengers somehow negotiate a four-direction crossing in a state of  polite chaos.

There’s a generation coming for whom all travel will be new. At the present time less than 10% of the Chinese population have passports (the figure varies depending on how you check) but the state suggests that the figure will jump to 80% within 10 years. What’s interesting, though, is the list of places Chinese tourists most want to visit; it’s a top ten of Instagram hits, including a selfie with the Mona Lisa (good luck with that) and the Bridge of Sighs (ditto).

It suggests that Paris, London and Rome will get much busier while say Plovdiv and Gdansk won’t grow their tourist industries unless they find something Instagrammable and go viral. The situation is not helped by Tripadvisor, where tourists endlessly plug guaranteed old favourites.

(Top photo taken on the terrifyingly low-walled balcony)




12 comments on “See Naples Without Dying”

  1. Jo W says:

    Good photo,Christopher. Now,what to do with all those lemons? Hmm…….oh yes I remember,when life gives you lemons, make gins and tonics. Enjoy!

  2. Diane Englot says:

    Naples is the only city I’ve been to in Italy that I never want to visit again. I will be there for a day in early October, but I’m planning on spending my time on Ischia in the thermal baths.

  3. Ian Luck says:

    Naples is certainly fascinating, what with the sites of Pompeii, Herculaneum, Lake Avernus, and the Roman Las Vegas, Baiae, with its hot springs, and mysterious tunnels nearby, but recently finding out that the whole area of the Bay Of Naples sits in the crater of a huge (and active) volcano with about 16 likely eruption areas, has made me want to give it a swerve. Enjoy your holiday.

  4. Wayne Mook says:

    Sometimes is good to be a tourist as well. I like to do a mixture of both. Even at home in Manchester every so often I’ll go to the museums and art galleries.

    I’ve not travelled much, I didn’t have a passport until I was 30. When I do I always fell sad when I leave any where, the travelling is usually fun and interesting; I’m a window gazer – even at clouds from a plane; and I always enjoy arriving. I was once almost in tears leaving Manchester on a train such was my melancholy, I was going all the way to the distant place of Liverpool (even on the stopping train it was less than an hour) where I met friends and had a splendid time.

    My father-in-law loves eating lemons like anyone else would eat oranges, he’d be in his element where you are.

    The whole of the med is volcanic which probably brought about the end of the Minoan empire and spawned Atlantis legend. Your probably safer in Edinburgh which is built on a…..oh. Don’t worry we’ll probably be his by an asteroid from outer space, at least no one worriers about a nuclear war any more.


  5. Jan says:

    Wayne wots up with you petal?

    I started off not far from where you are but kept moving along….. For good dosh really and hopefully not stopped moving yet. Different lives me little love for me best to keep moving along. For you something other perhaps better …almost CERTAINLY better in the long run.

    My great grand parents on one side moved down from near Newcastle to work, to build, the Mcr Ship canal. Used to play there and go there when I was a kid.

    Saw the happiest bloke I ever saw in my life down near the ship canal some vagrant fast a kip laying stretched out with his hands behind his head. Not a care in this world did that lad seen to had. Except he would really next meal, safe nights kip….

    You haven’t missed owt by NOT moving ….by staying put. Don’t fret it.

  6. Jan says:

    Seem to HAVE crap grammar me. secondary modern education …dSomeone told me that once

  7. snowy says:

    As the comments seem to be drifting everso slightly, [nothing wrong with that!].

    I’ll just sneak in this little scrap:

    “Shadow Man – a thriller serial by Edward J. Mason produced by Neil Tuson on Radio Luxembourg in 1955.”

    Which I’ve taken from a list of projects involving the Canadian actor Robert Beatty, [very well known in the UK, a very varied career, Film, TV, Radio; too many to list, even provided live commentary of the Blitz.] It doesn’t explicitly state he was the star but it seems quite possible, [link to source under my name.] Doesn’t sound very Horror-y.

    Carry on! [-eating chocolate!]

  8. Ian Luck says:

    Is that the Robert Beatty who played General Cutler in William Hartnell’s last Doctor Who story proper, 1966’s ‘The Tenth Planet’?

  9. snowy says:

    Um.. Yes and lots more.

    [I’m guilty of resurrecting the corpse, {well it was Easter!}, of an old question that Wayne and I were kicking about previously.]

  10. Helen Martin says:

    I sat next to a Scots born ship’s master at a dinner one night. He was shocked to learn that I had never (at that point) been off my continent. He had been all around the world but admitted that I had a sort of point when I suggested that I had a lot of country to see before I had to leave and I could use ships for quite a bit of it, too. We do what works for us at the time.

  11. Peter Tromans says:

    Robert Beatty was the doppelganger in ‘Where Eagles Dare’. I’m fairly sure that back in the 1950s, he was the lead in a TV series where he played a Scotland Yard detective.

    Travel is good entertainment. Living abroad is good education, possibly; that is, so long as it doesn’t reinforce your prejudices. I think that I learnt a lot.

  12. Wayne Mook says:

    Thanks for this Snowy, so it did exist, from your info I’ve found out some other information, it was sponsored by Stork margarine and ran on Tuesdays at 8.30pm. It’s billed as a thriller. Having said that a lot of Appointment with Fear had Gideon Fell stories.

    Robert Odell the Irish Detective (created by Lester Powell.) was played by Robert Beatty, the 1st BBC radio serial was The Lady in the Fog, there were several series and it was filmed.

    Jan I’m fine, I’ve travelled a fair bit around Europe now (I really enjoyed Prague), my in-laws live in Portugal so later in the year I will go and visit & enjoy it, but I’m always a little melancholy leaving anywhere. Being a reader I’ve visited many countries so I don’t feel I’ve missed out. Plus there is so much to see at home as you said.


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