Edgy Napoli

I came to Napoli with only a few prejudices; firstly the reputation of their hostile football fans and secondly the need to keep an extra keen eye on my wallet. But after a nervy journey finding the hostel I quickly become a huge fan of this quirky place full of passionate, strong characters.

The vespas tear through the city weaving through the crowds at ridiculous speeds. The pizzerias jostle at every corner and if you escape the tourist piazzas into the back streets you will find the restaurants running at factory like precision. We were pointed to 'Di Matteos', one of the top 5 pizzerias in the city according to the hostel owner, and found ourselves surrounded by Neapolitans and without a fellow Brit or American in sight. 

These places survive through word of mouth, otherwise no one blindly following their nose would wander into Di Mateos; It looked closed when we first walked past and only when we tentatively stepped inside were we gruffly pointed upstairs to discover a whole new world of food delight. Dozens of families tightly packed into 3 rooms all chomping down on humongous pizzas in routine fashion.

The pizzas range from 4 to 7 euros with the extra suicidal option to go for 'maxi' which is only recommended if you are trying to push for diabetes or to give added padding to your vespa waiting outside. Despite our best efforts at the cool, casual Neapolitan dress  (I wore an Australia tank top, flip flops and shorts), we all failed miserably and one waiter finally plucked up the courage to approach the Brits.  I ordered a Diavolo which translates to pepperoni but means devil in Italian. After making it clear that I couldn't handle the 'picante' version our pizzas arrived in  the purpose built pizza lift a short while later.

Unsurpringly the restaurant was packed for a reason and as Bjorn, an American traveller we met at the hostel, pointed out, sometimes the food here is so good here you want to cry. I didn't cry but I realised that my love for pizza has, despite many fond memories of post night out dominos, grown stronger.

Aside from this anecdote of a few short hours in Napoli, we have visted the ancient Greek ruins of Agrigento, climbed the smoky volcano of Mount Etna from Catania and endured a brutal overnight train flying through the south of Italy.

Rome now almost feels a bit too clean. I will miss Napoli, maybe one day I can wear the slightly aged black leather jacket and ostentatiously over-sized aviators and fit in with the cool, young Neapolitan crowd. Well, we can all dream.