Saturday, January 4, 2014

Sunday, November 17, 2013 – Naples, Italy – Sunny - 68F

Distance from Civitavecchia to Naples: 161 Nautical Miles

A beautiful, sunny, and warm day in Napoli…

Local Information.  Napoli has a population of about 1 million people – Capital of the Campania Region of Italy.  The city has nearly 2800 years of history.  Founded by the Greeks, Naples sits between Mt.Vesuvius – an active volcano - and the Phlegraean Fields Volcanic region.  Vesuvius last erupted in 1944. Today, Naples is known for its volcanic enhanced pizza and its status at “pickpocket” capital of the world.

It is so clear today that visibility is unlimited.  From the deck of the Equinox, I can get great pictures of both Naples and Mt. Vesuvius.

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Views from the Ship

We are both on tour today.  After the all day tours in La Spezia and Villefranche, we are ready for a more easygoing tour and we found it in “Panoramic Naples” (Luca is my guide).  The comfortable bus starts out by driving in a circular pattern through Naples (probably a results of the one way streets).  The driver pays no attention to either stop lights or stop signs as he makes his way through the streets.  Near the port, many of the buildings are in terrible disrepair and graffiti encrusted.

As the bus ventures deeper into Naples, there is some improvement in the buildings. 

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Spaccanapoli is the longest street in Naples (below)

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The tour continues through some very posh areas of Naples where flats can run into the millions of Euros.  The tour then climbs to the top of the hill overlooking the Bay of Naples – where we leave the bus for photographs of the Bay.

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Mt. Vesuvius (just waiting)

The Isle of Capri is supposed to look like a woman lying in the water.  What do you think?

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Isle of Capri

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Sorrento (end of the land strip)

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Naples and Vesuvius

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Sail boats practicing

The bus continued up and over the hill to get a view of the other side of Naples and the Sea.  Of particular important, according to Luca, was the abandoned factory in the valley below.  No one had thought to rebuild it and add to the economy of the area.  He was proud of the soccer stadium below (Naples is a contender this season).

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The Valley behind Naples

The island on the left side of the photo below is a juvenile detention facility.

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After that depressing segment of the tour, it was time to stop for the ultimate Italian delicacy, Gelato.  On our way, Luca pointed out a statue of a “Siren” indicating that some believe the name Sorrento comes from “siren” (Sirentum).

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Siren Statue

The buses all stopped at different Gelato places – ours is shown below.  We all got in line and chose our flavor – while everyone was going for the chocolate with hazelnuts I tried the mocha flavor.  The cone contained a humongous scoop that I ate at one of the outdoor tables.  The place also had Wi-Fi and freshly cleaned bathrooms (I waited in line for 10 minutes watching the complex process of cleaning the facilities). 

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Clearly the highlight of the tour

The tour also took us along the beach front street and on this Sunday, the promenade was very crowded (the soccer team had a bye). 

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Statue along the beach promenade

Our final stop was free time at the largest square in Naples - “The People’s Square” (Piazza del Plebiscito).  We would meet back at the statue of Victor Emmanuel II (below).  My history is going to get mangled here but Luca said that VE II’s Son, Umberto, the first King of Italy invented the Marguerite Pizza for his wife, Marguerite.  He wanted the three colors of Italy represented on this special pizza – red (tomatoes), while (Romano cheese), and green (basil).  Now, there’s a good trivia question.

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I walked around the square looking for WiFi, which I found at Ciao Pizza (thanks).  This allowed a pretty good catch up of things going on back home. 

The Square is immense (looks like a perfect concert venue) with the focal point being the huge Church of San Francesco di Paola.

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Church of San Francesco di Paola

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Royal Palace

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While searching for Wi-Fi, I walked along the main shopping street in Central Napoli – Via Toledo.

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Via Toledo

The area has its share of street performers (not La Rambla caliber but they do try).  The monks below look like they are defying gravity but the supporting poles are hidden in sleeves and tunics.  I saw this done better in Cozumel, Mexico. The real trick here is sitting so long without any bathroom breaks – now that’s magic.

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Celebrity Equinox from People’s Square

Our route back to the pier took us past the Castel Nuovo ("New Castle"), a Medieval Castle repeatedly restored since its construction in the late 13th Century.

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Castel Nuovo

Once back on ship, we caught one of the lounge acts in the Grand Foyer - “Union Station” plays soft folk-rock stuff.

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Union Station – Grand Foyer

The Headliner tonight is Steve Caouette – he is a very funny comedian that we saw in 2010 on the triple Caribbean Century cruises.  He adlibs his whole show starting from hassling anyone who comes in late – he is a total hoot.  Tonight is no exception – his show was just as funny three years later.

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