We woke at about 7 am which is the time the ship docked in Naples. We did not have a tour today and were very glad that we did not have to get up early in order to catch a tour bus. We headed to the buffet for breakfast. My goodness, it was noisy there! Crowded, too, but that is to be expected. By 8 or so, we were ready to head off the ship. We re-read the Rick Steves walking tour information and decided to walk to our first stop (the Archeological Museum) rather than taking the bus.
We stopped at the Tourist Info (TI) desk in the port building and picked up a map; the young woman working at the counter mapped out how to walk to the museum. It is about a 45 minute walk, slightly uphill, so pretty easy to do. The adventure part of walking anywhere in Naples is crossing the street. We were told last year when we were here that traffic signals are “merely suggestions”. Rick Steves calls them “decorations”. Whatever you call them, the drivers ignore them (for the most part). The motorcycles are the worst; they have no regard for pedestrians whatsoever. The first few times crossing the street were really frightening, but eventually we got the hang of it and kind of enjoyed the thrill of crossing without being hit. We remained unscathed until we were walking back to the port; Clayton somehow managed to run into the end of a bus and so got some grime on his sleeve. It was a really interesting walk; the shops were just starting to open, and many street vendors were putting out their wares. Graffiti is everywhere; Naples is known for being “gritty” and run-down; also known for its pickpockets.
The Archeological Museum was really quite fascinating. As you enter, there is a collection of enormous marble statues that were excavated from Rome’s Baths of Caracalla. I took a picture of Clayton in front of one of them in order for you to see the scale of the statues. Gigantic!
There is a grand staircase that takes you to two separate levels of the museum; we opted to start at the top and work our way down. The very top floor did not have much to see; only half of it appeared to be open. More statues (though these were on a much smaller scale) and a 1:100 replica of Pompeii, which is where the statutes and artwork seen on the upper levels of the museum were collected from. We had been to Pompeii one year ago, so it was pretty cool to see some of the actual objects uncovered from that excavation. I saw one strange pan that reminded me of a monstrous abelskiver pan; I am not sure what it was actually used for since the description was in Italian.
We headed down to the next level which had a couple of interesting rooms. I was fascinated by the hall of mosaics. The intricacy of the designs was amazing, and the fact that most of the mosaics on display had been almost fully restored, incredible!
Of course, the most famous room in the museum is the “secret” room; the room of erotica from Pompeii. I must say, the artists of the day did indeed have some imagination! They had some of the pictures from outside the walls of Pompeii where the brothels were located. Since sailors from all over the world would avail them of their services, they had painted “menus of services” on the walls; in other words, pictures of particular sex acts that a person might want to hire a prostitute for.
Moving on from the museum we decided to just mosey through town. We were going to follow Rick Steves’ walking tour, but instead decided to create our own by wandering down any street that looked interesting. We found a narrow street that seemed to be pretty popular with the locals, so turned and followed the crowd. It was a really interesting experience; I think we were probably the only cruise passengers wandering through that part of town; it was definitely more geared towards locals. The shops had so many interesting items. Nativity scenes are very popular here, so there were shops filled with items related to that. Apparently, a simple manger scene is not sufficient; these had multiple stories and places for scene after scene, kind of like a 3 story condo for Jesus! We also found a shop that sold only babas. If you read my blog about our trip here last fall, you know that I had the most amazing baba au limoncello at a bakery in Sorrento. I have been dreaming about having another one, but didn’t think it was worth the trip to Sorrento for just one pastry, so I was pretty excited to find the same thing here in Naples. Clayton and I split one; it was good, but not as good as the one I had before. The last one was oozing limoncello which is what made it so tasty.
I bought a Christmas ornament at one of the stalls which served a couple of purposes. Mainly, I collect ornaments and like to pick up unique ones wherever in the world we might be. Secondly, I was able to break a 5 Euro bill and get lots of pocket change back. We needed change for some of our upcoming excursions, so were now set. We passed by another fascinating shop that was filled with old marionettes. By now our feet and back were both aching, so it was time to head back to the ship to relax for a bit. We found our way back to port with no problem at all, just in time for lunch.