Napoli is a city, as many before me have iterated and I will re-iterate, that either you love or your hate. My first impressions of Napoli are not wholly positive albeit not wholly negative. My biggest issue is the amount of garbage that piles up on some streets; this is an issue that I recall on the news three years ago when I was in Roma. And here we are three years later and the situation seems to have become the status quo. Compounding this is the amount of road construction currently underway; I cannot tell if this is some momentary blip that when complete will elevate Napoli into the beautiful metropolis that I believe it rightly deservers per its grand heritage, or whether this public works will, too, become the status quo of Napoli streets. We do need to keep some things in perspective. Most everyone, including Italians, like to caution you against Napoli as a city of extremes so I was already a bit tense to visit it. In addition, the days I have been here it has been overcast and raining. And more so, given it is November the sun is rises around 6:30 AM and sets up 4:30 PM. Add all of these things together and it can make for seemingly very short, very oppressive days.
However, at the end of my second day in Napoli and after a long day of walking around Pompeii I decided I might try to walk some of the streets to get a feel for the city. What I saw and experienced makes me think that it is indeed possible, even easy, to fall in love with this city. It is gritty both with modernity and antiquity, an obvious menagerie of ideas and styles that have infused themselves into each other to such an extent it is hard to know what bit comes from what century or millennia. The city pulses with an easy intensity that southern Italians exude out of every pour. There is not a single person who will not meet you eye to eye; but there is not a person who will try to intimidate you. I even got the wink of a few women and possibly one transexual so one cannot say Italian women are timid. And you might say I am naive thinking they were not prostitutes. But you have your version and I have my version. The city is, like any great city, alive. I do not think it is possible to see beneath the skin of Napoli on any length of visit; I sincerely suspect it is a city that defies outsiders effortlessly, subconsciously. The only way to experience Napoli, or so I suspect, is to crawl deep into the heart of Napoli and live inside of it.