Wednesday 5 April 2023

One day in Naples

I'm still writing up content from my October 2022 cruise on the Marella Explorer, can you believe it? But life is so hectic sometimes and I've been on other trips since then too - so I'm still working on getting everything up to date here on the blog. If you've got a port call at Naples, Italy on a cruise this year then here are some ideas for what you can do in the city!

Excursions from Naples

There are a few different excursions you can do from Naples, which will take you to all manner of places: Pompeii, Sorrento, the Amalfi Coast, Mount Vesuvius, Herculaneum and Capri. All of these are brilliant in their own right, and it's up to you to decide what sort of day you want while docked in Naples. There are also guided tours around Naples, too - walking tours, cycling tours, history tours and more.

How we spent one day in Naples

We decided not to go on an excursion, and instead stay in Naples itself. We got off the ship and headed towards the town - it was one of the busiest ports we experienced on this cruise in terms of the number of people trying to get off at once and also the number of locals trying to sell you knock-off designer goods and taxi tours. Also it needs to be said from the get-go, as I didn't realise: the roads in Naples are quite honestly lethal. Cars and scooters just run amok, and it was really stressful for me at some points!

We went across to Castel Nuovo just to check it out and get our bearings, before heading to the bus stop. We had booked tickets in advance for the Catacombs of San Gennaro, which was our main focus of the day. The bus dropped us off just around the corner - I had mapped us to Basilica Madre del Buon Consiglio, and it was quite cheap & easy to get bus tickets using the Gira Napoli app. We admired the view and took some photos, and we were a bit early for our tour so we had a drink while we waited. 
There's a cafe and gift shop at the entrance to the tour, so it's really handy.


The Catacombs of San Gennaro tour

I absolutely loved everything about this. We started off with a brief introduction to the tour and the catacombs, then it was time to head down with our guide and see them for ourselves. You get to see ancient burial chambers, very early Christian paintings, and some incredible tombs including that of Saint Gennaro himself. Our guide told us all about the saint, as well as why catacombs and crypts were used to bury the dead in this way - there are all sorts of interesting facts, like the burial hierarchy...

'There were different types of burial: the simplest type were dug in the ground or along the walls and peripheral corridors of the ambulatory. The tombs of the most wealthy, the arcosolia, were arched in shape.The decorations of the tombs served to underline the importance of families, and could feature frescos or mosaics.'

The tour was brilliant, and didn't feel too long or too short. It is also completely accessible for wheelchair users and there is also a route for blind and visiually impaired people; this is the only catacomb site in the world which is this accessible! They are also a non-profit, employing local young people and giving back to the community, so I'd definitely recommend checking the tour out if you're spending your day in Naples rather than heading further afield.

Back to town

At the end of the tour we made our way back towards town, through some narrow and (it has to be said) fairly dodgy streets. There is quite a high crime rate in some parts of Naples, and at times I definitely didn't feel 100% comfortable, but overall it was fine! We were going to get the bus back towards the centre of town, but ended up walking instead - even in October it was a very hot day, and being such a busy city the heat felt quite oppressive. There is plenty of street art and cool architecture to admire, though, and it's also nice to do something at a bit of a slower pace.

We stopped at McDonalds because I don't know about you, but testing out fast food in other countries never ceases to be fun to me - they had these little pizza pocket things which were absolutely delicious, and we've never had those in the UK! It's just cool to try something new but familiar at the same time, if that makes sense...

The funicular

If there's one thing I absolutely love, it's a funicular. In fact, Naples has a really interesting array fo transport on offer - during our one day in the city we used the bus, an outdoor escalator, a street lift (elevator) and the funicular. Amazing! There are 4 different funicular routes, and we chose Funicolare Centrale - it takes 5 minutes and there are 4 stops, and you get out at Piazza Fuga. We bought our tickets from the kiosk at the station, and they were €1.20 each way per person.

I really like funiculars, which might sound quite sad, but there's just something about them! So we got on, and it was quite full of people but we managed to get seats - they're really regular, so if it's too busy for you then just wait for the next one and you'll be fine. We got out at Piazza Fuga which is a small square, with nearby restaurants and bars. From here we walked to Castel Sant'Elmo, which took around 10 minutes; it is a very hilly walk, so do bear that in mind as we didn't realise beforehand. 

We didn't visit the castle itself, but the main reason we'd walked up here was to see the view over the city and it didn't disappoint! It was super windy up here but still breathtaking, and I was really pleased we did it.

After snapping some photos we headed back down on the funicular and walked back to the ship to rest our aching feet and grab a cold drink! I made it back in time for the quiz in the Squid & Anchor, which was fun, and then we got ready, had dinner, and watched the show. You can read more about my cruise HERE if you're interested!

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