On Saturday, my friends and I left our apartment in Rome and set out for Naples. We took the metro to Termini where we planned to catch an 8:30 train to Naples. I was secretly overjoyed at the prospect of not having to purchase my train ticket in Italian, but the ticket machines proved to be a challenge in and of themselves. The first one didn’t accept bills, the second one was for information only, the third and fourth ones shut down for temporary maintenance as soon as I walked up to them, but I was finally able to find one that worked and buy a ticket in time to make the train. The train ride to Naples took about two and half hours, which went by surprisingly fast between sleeping and looking at the gorgeous scenery outside the window.
None of us had really researched Naples before Saturday, but we were pretty sure that it was a fishing city and we knew for certain that it was famous for its pizza. We wandered through the downtown area and shopped before deciding to go to a tiny pizzeria for lunch. It was an authentic Italian pizzeria; the family that owned it didn’t speak any English and our server was a fifteen year old boy. The pizza was the best I have had in my entire life. My friends and I joked that the pizza itself was worth the 22 euro round trip ticket to Naples. Naples honestly didn’t really impress any of us with its plethora of street vendors, apartment buildings, and crowds, but it’s very possible that we weren’t in the right part of the city because we didn’t do our homework before the day trip.
In the Napoli train station, we bought local train tickets to Pompeii. When I first arrived in Italy, I didn’t realize that the concept of lines didn’t exist here. I know that all too well now and thought it was amusing that instead of waiting in line to buy a train ticket, we had to pull a number and wait for it to be called like at a lunch meat counter in America. Anyway, the train ride to Pompeii was only about twenty minutes and when we arrived, I was surprised that people actually currently live in Pompeii. It’s an adorable small town with Mount Vesuvius looming in the distance as a constant reminder of the town’s past. We walked through the modern town to the archeological site where we could see the ruins of ancient Pompeii.
The archeological site was unreal. Homes and pottery and colorful frescos and bodies were uncovered. This little city was completely wiped out by Mount Vesuvius, but artifacts and buildings survived. Walking through this awe-inspiring archeological dream within a modern town was surreal. We didn’t feel like we were in Italy anymore: there was so much greenery and the area was so open. I would advise anyone interested in visiting Pompeii to do so in the afternoon on a September afternoon. We chose a perfect day to walk through an archeological site: it wasn’t too hot or too crowded. One of the friends I traveled with had gone in July years before with her family and she said it was a terrible experience because of the ungodly heat and crowds. She admitted to getting more out of Pompeii this time around.
The weather, which had been lovely all day, suddenly turned as we were walking out of the archeological part of town. It started to pour rain and we were forced to take cover in the first place we could find: McDonald’s. Eating in an Italian McDonald’s has been the most American thing I’ve done since coming to Italy, but even going to the fast food chain proved to be an almost Italian experience. We ordered in Italian, had to pay for ketchup, and the food came out looking like it does on the commercials.
Our train back home left at 8:30 and we were in our apartment again by midnight. Going to Naples made me realize how comfortable I feel in Rome. I had no idea where I was going or where anything was in Naples, but Rome feels like home. Although there wasn’t as much to do or see in Naples as I had expected, I would recommend making the trip there for the pizza and the opportunity to visit Pompeii.