- Ryan Kretch
The unwelcoming skies welcome us to Napoli
By the time we stepped off the train at Napoli Centrale, the first droplets we had seen this month had started falling, a not-really-needed addition to the chaos already surrounding the bustling train station. But this was expected. When one comes to this area of Italy in November, one must be aware that it is the rainiest month of the year. Ill-prepared, umbrella-less, but hopeful that all research surrounding this topic was fake news, the droplets nevertheless grew and became more frequent as we made our way towards Trattoria da Nennella in Quartieri Spagnoli knowing that we could seek refuge there until the rain subsided over a fabulous local meal.
But at 1pm on a Friday, we were once again too optimistic as we arrived at the restaurant and saw that about 20 other people, a mix of tourists and business-people, had precisely the same idea as us, waiting in a disorganized crescent in front of the door under a few make-shift umbrellas hoping to be allowed in quickly. At this point, we either join the cattle-like swarms of hungry, wet humans or make a run for it and settle for something nearby that might not be as satisfying. We went for the second option, turning a few tight corners all the while, hugging the sides of the buildings so that whatever awnings or balconies above our heads would shield us from the enraged skies. That was when we suddenly found ourselves drawn in by the bright lights of another local trattoria.
Hopping from restaurant to bar, bar to restaurant
We entered Trattoria da Concetta without much grace; both of our hair-styles, which typically defy gravity, were completely matted down by the forces of mother nature. But the waiter, Alessandro, found us a table amongst all the commotion of the little restaurant. We scanned a qr code to grab the menu, as many restaurants in Italy have implemented since covid and were immediately pleased by the prices and options; much more affordable than Milan up in the north. We ordered a bottle of house wine for 8 euro, plus a massive starter of mussels, fresh octopus salad, and two delectable pasta dishes. And in between bites and two power outages from far too many appliances being used concurrently, we were ultimately revived back to contentedness. Nonetheless, the rain didn't seem to have an end, so upon leaving the safety of the trattoria we quickly sought shelter at a candy shop cum cafe cum bar creatively called Bar sitting caddy-corner from the restaurant drawing us in with a sign promising 1 euro spritzes. We immediately had entered another world, one with a few older Italians watching the 1960's film Quattro Giornate di Napoli on a hanging television. The bartender/barista/boss-man quickly whipped up a strong plastic cup of Campari spritz as we took in the incredibly local moment we were having.
A quarter of the film over and our spritzes long gone, we decided we had overstayed our welcome and with an "Arrivederci" to our new friends, embarked back into the charming, but soaked alleys of the Quartieri Spagnoli. We finally succumbed to buying a pair of umbrellas from one of the many bargain shops, knowing that they would be a necessity if we were ever to get where we wanted to go that day.
Trekking up mountainous Naples towards Museo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte
The touristy, but gorgeous Quartieri Spagnoli faded into other parts of Naples. But you didn't need to venture far before encountering another obelisk and magnificently designed church.
Gradually, the flatness of the city was no longer as we began the mountainous and never-ending trek towards the Museo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte, which during the autumn/winter months boasts a night at the museum; where for just 2 euros, you have unrestricted access to endless classical works within the palace.
By the time we got to the top of the 'hill', not a millimeter of our shoes were left unsaturated by the water and juices flowing through Naples. After another quick and incredibly local take on aperitivo, we pulled ourselves into the complex and were immediately in awe of the palace and palm trees swaying in the blackened skies. With the company of just a few other guests, we had the whole monstrosity of the museum/palace to ourselves. Rooms upon rooms and rows upon rows of classic works, mainly focused in on religious scenes, were ours to take in with the most intricate backdrops. The highlight of the night was walking into an empty grand ballroom with an older man playing classics flawlessly at the grand piano. The entire experience was sublime and surreal, and if there is anything one should do in Naples, it is this.
Ending the night with Napoli-style pizza
After nearly two hours, we finally parted ways with the palace, probably the closest we will ever be to that type of royalty, and left the complex in dire need of Napoli pizza. Fortunately, right outside the gates of the museum was our answer at Pizzeria e Trattoria Regina Vittoria.
Since all the rest of Naples decided rightfully to ride out the rainstorm at home and order delivery, we were the sole guests at the restaurant alongside the sole worker at the restaurant, both chef and waiter. He brought us out two plates of heaven and enough white wine to send us into a stupor. After mountains of cheese and toppings, we descended back down the mountain and straight to the hotel to strip ourselves of our rain-soaked belongings, take a hot shower, and fall into a deep and dream-filled sleep ready for Part II of our 24 hours in Naples.
Me experiencing my total happy place right here