Naples: What NOT to Do (and How to Avoid Dead Pigeons and Thieves)

January 15, 2018 46 Comments

You can view all posts from my trip to Italy here

Naples was my last stop on my tour of Italy with my friends! I wish we could have ended it on a high note, but our day in Naples was the worst experience we had the entire trip. I thought I would do a post on what not to do in Naples so you don’t have the same terrible experiences we did!

What Not to Do in Naples

Naples was ROUGH. It was the only place in Italy where I felt unsafe, and it was my least favorite place in Italy. I wasn’t a fan of Verona or Venice because I thought they were overrated, but Naples was on a completely different spectrum. I had heard that a lot of people don’t like Naples, but I wasn’t quite expecting this. 

In summary, men yelled at us and stared at us the whole day (even though we were dressed modestly), I was told by locals to carry my backpack in front of me or I would definitely be robbed, Stephanie was swarmed by children who tried to steal her bag, taxis kept trying to run us over when we had the right-of-way, a motorcycle almost fell on top of Stephanie on a pedestrian street, and to top it off, a dead pigeon fell from the sky and almost hit Morgan in the head. Nope, I’m not making any of that up or exaggerating. And I don’t know where the dead bird came from or how it died. Every place we went seemed more rundown and grungy than any other place we visited in Italy, even though we walked pretty far into town trying to find nicer areas. After seeing beautiful, romantic cities like Florence and Bassano del Grappa, Naples was quite the change of pace. Remember the awful experience we had on the Circumvesuviana train at Naples to go to the Amalfi Coast? The places we went to in Naples were like that but on steroids.

Out of the awful day we had dodging dead birds and avoiding men and groups of thieving children, there were only two good experiences we had. I’m sure there are better ways to visit Naples and you should definitely do your research before you go, so I hope you can learn from my terrible experience what not to do in Naples and have a better time there!

Head’s up: I took quite a few pictures (and some of these are Stephanie’s), but I didn’t take pictures of the roughest areas or where there were streets full of men selling cheap purses trying to push their items on every person because I felt uncomfortable having my camera draw attention to me. So know that even these photos don’t do the worst of my experience justice. 

Street in Naples

Photo by Stephanie

Street in Naples

Photo by Stephanie

So the main reason we went to Naples is because it was our stop from our train from the Amalfi Coast and our flight back to Venice, and we had a lot of time to kill so we wanted to visit the famous Christmas Alley on Via San Gregorio Armeno. We walked from the train station to Via San Gregorio Armeno, which is about a 25 minute walk. The walk over there was pretty rough, but Christmas Alley felt pretty safe, other than motorcycles driving down the pedestrian street and one falling on top of Stephanie. 

Naples Nativity market

Photo by Stephanie

Naples, Italy

Photo by Stephanie

Remember how I said we only had two good experiences in Naples? One of them was at the Basilica di San Lorenzo Maggiore near the Nativity markets. It’s a beautiful church, but the coolest part is underground where they’ve excavated a Roman city. And you actually get to go underground and walk around in the city! The church sits on top of the city, and it was really interesting to see how modern cities have been built over historical ones. It was a pretty awesome experience, and there weren’t many tourists there at all. 

Basilica di San Lorenzo Maggiore

Photo by Stephanie

Basilica di San Lorenzo Maggiore

Photo by Stephanie

Roman city excavation

Photo by Stephanie

Roman city excavation

Photo by Stephanie

Roman city excavation

Photo by Stephanie

Roman city excavation

Roman city excavation

Roman city excavation

Roman city excavation

Roman city excavation

We didn’t go on a tour, but they had signs saying what some of the areas are, including a market and a laundry room. After walking through the city, we went up to the museum to learn more about the area and the church. 

Basilica di San Lorenzo Maggiore

Basilica di San Lorenzo Maggiore

Basilica di San Lorenzo Maggiore

Basilica di San Lorenzo Maggiore

Basilica di San Lorenzo Maggiore

Basilica di San Lorenzo Maggiore

Basilica di San Lorenzo Maggiore

Basilica di San Lorenzo Maggiore

Basilica di San Lorenzo Maggiore

Basilica di San Lorenzo Maggiore

Basilica di San Lorenzo Maggiore

Basilica di San Lorenzo Maggiore

After visiting Basilica di San Lorenzo Maggiore, we walked around some more and set out to find some pizza because you can’t go to Naples without getting some pizza. 

Buildings in Naples

Naples, Italy

We got pizza at Pizzeria Donna Sofia, and we hadn’t done much research to find a pizza place but they’re all over the place in Naples so we just stopped in one that looked good. For just picking a restaurant at random, it was pretty good! It wasn’t the best pizza of my life, but it’s a good place if you’re just looking for a quick bite at an inexpensive place. 

Pizza in Naples

Naples, Italy

Naples, Italy

Naples, Italy

Naples, Italy

Naples, Italy

Naples, Italy

Naples, Italy

Naples, Italy

The second good experience we had in Naples was at a pastry shop called Cuori Di Sfogliatella, which is conveniently located across the street from the train station. The one thing I wanted to do in Naples was get a sfogliatella because Naples is known for them. They’re called the “lobster tail” pastry and Matt (who is Italian American) introduced me to them a few years ago (if you’re in Philly, you can get them near the Italian market at Isgro, the oldest family owned pastry shop in Philly!). All the sfogliatella we tried were delicious, and my favorite was the chocolate! 

Sfogliatella

Sfogliatella

Sfogliatella

Sfogliatella

To end our horrible day in Naples, we had an awful experience with our airline! We finally made it back to Venice for our flight home in (mostly) one piece, and we spent the night at Venice Resort (one of my favorite places that we stayed!) and had dinner at Ai do Fogheri.

I hope this post on what not to do in Naples helps! I’m not sure if we just went to the wrong areas and didn’t spend enough time in Naples so we didn’t get to really experience the area (like what happened in Verona) or if all of Naples is like what we experienced. So if you do go to Naples, try to avoid all the awful experiences we had. Make sure you do your research on where to go so you don’t feel unsafe, carry a secure bag and keep your valuables hidden, look out for crazy taxis and motorcycles, and keep an eye out for dead pigeons falling from the sky, and hopefully, you’ll have a better time in Naples than I did!

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46 Comments

  1. Reply

    Jennifer

    January 15, 2018

    Wow. Thanks for the heads up. I’d not heard anything like this about Naples so it’s always good to have the most information you can while traveling.

    • Reply

      Julia

      January 15, 2018

      I hope my advice helps!

  2. Reply

    Julia

    January 16, 2018

    Thanks for the honest post! Funnily enough, I’m going to Naples with two friends in March – and even after reading this, I’m still really looking forward to it!
    What’s interesting to see in all the things that happened to you is, maybe, the difference from a Western European person versus yours as an American. Thus I’m really not surprised about the taxis and motorcycles or the catcalling, I am more so about the children who harassed your friend, however no surprise about children thieves in themselves – even in Paris, I see so many of them. It’s a lot more frequent that we’d think.
    Naples is a rough city, it’s a poor city, and clearly not the prettiest! But I’m hoping to avoid unsafe areas as you said, and have time to see all the wonderful cultural side of Naples – especially Pompeii, I can’t wait to go back there it’s a beautiful place!

    Julia x
    Last Post: On Resilience and What 2017 Taught Me | http://juliaspeaksbeauty.blogspot.co.uk/2018/01/lifestyle-on-resilience-what-i-learned.html

    • Reply

      Julia

      January 16, 2018

      I hope you have a great time there! I think I would have enjoyed it more if we had done more research, and didn’t have to dodge dead pigeons haha! I also wish we had time to go to Pompeii because I’ve heard it’s incredible to see. I have been to more “rough” parts of cities before, but Naples has been the worse so far so I hope you stay safe and have a good time there!

  3. Reply

    Rachel

    January 17, 2018

    I went to Naples in 2001 and I loved it, even though it was the grittiest city I visited in Italy. At least it gave you some dramatic stories to share!!

    • Reply

      Julia

      January 17, 2018

      Gritty is a good word for it! I’m glad you liked it!

  4. Reply

    Jessica R

    January 17, 2018

    Oh my gosh! I’m so sorry to hear about your crazy experience in Naples! It’s definitely good to have this heads up before planning a trip over there!

    • Reply

      Julia

      January 17, 2018

      I hope this post helps if you ever go there!

  5. Reply

    Sarah

    January 17, 2018

    My family is actually from Naples. I have heard so many of the statements you have made so I appreciate you sharing this experience because it has happened to others so better to be honest about your experience 🙂

    • Reply

      Julia

      January 17, 2018

      That’s cool that your family is from there! If you ever get to visit, I hope this post helps!

  6. Reply

    cecillia

    January 17, 2018

    holy cow! sounds like quite the trip. definitely a good title to catch my attention (and i’m sure anybody else’s for that matter haha) though naples wasn’t the best, you and Stephanie did seem to catch the beauty of the city! the photos are absolutely stunning. i’m glad you kept your camera out of sight most of the time so little kids didn’t steal it and you were able to share these images. xx – c

    • Reply

      Julia

      January 17, 2018

      Thank you!

  7. Reply

    Iulia

    January 18, 2018

    I also heard not so good things about Neaples, that it is quite dirty and unsafe as you get away from the central squares. But would still be curious about it, I’m sure there are also many interesting places to check, it has after all a rich history as you also highlighted.

    Julia
    https://egodiary.com

    • Reply

      Julia

      January 18, 2018

      Yes I did love the historical parts!

  8. Reply

    Hanna

    January 18, 2018

    Wow it sounds like you guys had quite the misadventure in Naples! I think I felt the same time about our stay in Rome (mostly the hotel). We might have stayed in a different part of Naples (close to Castel Dell’Ovo) so thankfully we didn’t experience any of the horrors you guys did! What was your favorite part of your trip to Italy? Mine was probably the Amalfi Coast or Cinque Terre.

    • Reply

      Julia

      January 18, 2018

      I’m glad you had a better time there! I loved the Amalfi Coast, too! And I really enjoyed going to Bassano del Grappa to visit a smaller town.

  9. Reply

    Kim

    January 19, 2018

    Sorry about your experience. We did a Mediterranean cruise and made a stop at Naples. We didn’t have to roam the streets on our own. That would’ve been scary.

    • Reply

      Julia

      January 19, 2018

      I’m glad you got to see at least a glimpse of the city!

  10. Reply

    Deborah Regen

    January 19, 2018

    Refreshing to read an honest appraisal of a location. I prefer smaller towns in Italy myself. At least you were not planning a multi-day visit in Naples.

    • Reply

      Julia

      January 19, 2018

      Yes I’m glad I didn’t plan to spend much time there!

  11. Reply

    Hazel

    January 19, 2018

    We had a similar unnerving experience in Naples, but Your photos are so very beautiful that I don’t think it’ll put me off- I like how you made it into a positive, I will go back to Naples and try again!

    • Reply

      Julia

      January 19, 2018

      Thank you!

  12. Reply

    Emma

    January 19, 2018

    What a shame! Italy is one of my favourite countries, though I haven’t been to Naples. I’m terrified of birds so a dead pigeon would end me 😂 thous pastries look delicious though!

    • Reply

      Julia

      January 19, 2018

      Yes the pastries did make the day better!!

  13. Reply

    Addie

    January 19, 2018

    I’m sorry to hear you didn’t have the best time. I haven’t been to Naples, but was hoping to go to southern Italy this summer. I guess I might need to look at my options.

    • Reply

      Julia

      January 19, 2018

      If you go, the Amalfi Coast is a great place to visit!

  14. Reply

    Olivia

    January 19, 2018

    That totally sucks that you had a bad time. I mean, Naples looks absolutely beautiful, but if you didn’t feel comfortable and it left a bad taste in your mouth, then that puts a damper on things.

    • Reply

      Julia

      January 19, 2018

      Yes parts of it were beautiful! But I’m not dying to go back anytime soon.

  15. Reply

    Tracy

    January 19, 2018

    Naples is a dreadful place and best avoided totally. We like you had to change trains for the Amalfi Coast and we were appalled – children begging and even fighting over a cigarette end that their father gave them !??! We will never go again and did not feel safe at all – ironically we were scammed in Rome (where we did feel safe!)

    • Reply

      Julia

      January 19, 2018

      Wow, that sounds like a crazy experience!! I’m glad you got out safely!

  16. Reply

    Julia

    January 20, 2018

    Okay that dead pigeon falling from the sky thing is just bloody awful, and so unlucky! I’m scared of birds so I’d literally run for the hills if that happened to me. So sorry to hear you really didn’t enjoy your Naples experience either! I’ve been to Naples twice and both times we were warned about how unsafe it was etc etc, but both times we found it to be absolutely fine! I don’t know if it’s because I’m from an Italian background or if it was pot luck, but personally I felt way safer in Naples than I have just walking around some of the Melbournian suburbs :p

    Julia // The Sunday Mode

    • Reply

      Julia

      January 20, 2018

      I’m glad you enjoyed it! I think we didn’t do enough research and didn’t go to the nicer parts of town, so I’ll have to plan out my trip better next time!

  17. Reply

    Hollie

    January 20, 2018

    I appreciate your honesty and openness of everything that happened and I cannot even imagine how stressful that was. I’ve never been to Naples before!

    • Reply

      Julia

      January 20, 2018

      I hope this post helps if you ever go!

  18. Reply

    Carly

    January 20, 2018

    It’s nice to know I wasn’t the only one who wasn’t overly enamored by Naples.

    • Reply

      Julia

      January 20, 2018

      Yes I’ve been hearing from so many people that they had similar experiences!

  19. Reply

    Sarah Shumate

    January 20, 2018

    Oh, no! I’m so sorry you had such a rough go of it in Naples! We also flew into Naples on our way to the Amalfi Coast, but didn’t see more of the city than what we could see out of our taxi window from the airport to the train station. I’m about to go read your experience on the Circumvesuviana train as soon as I finish this comment. We had no issues at all with the train and used it many times while we were in Italy, but that was back in 2015, so I’m curious if it’s changed!

    Despite the terrible experience, you and your friend actually did come away with some rather lovely pictures! I’m glad at least the food was good and a couple of the sites you visited weren’t a total disappointment. I have heard similar tales from other travelers about Naples. One of my friends even had her rental car stolen while she was there. So scary!

    • Reply

      Julia

      January 20, 2018

      Yes I’ve been hearing more and more horror stories from people about Naples since I posted this! It’s probably a good idea that you didn’t visit!

  20. Reply

    FunFitnessFam

    January 20, 2018

    I felt the same way about Naples! It is where my Great-Grandma is from so I made a special stop there en route to Rome. Agree with your point that the pizza is really good, but it is just as good in Rome and Venice. I was disappointed that it felt so much like New York City, but still glad I went to see where my Great-Grandma was from. She was a tough lady, so seeing Naples explained a lot 😉

    • Reply

      Julia

      January 21, 2018

      That’s great that you got to see where your family came from! Yes I can see why she was so tough!

  21. Reply

    Emily

    January 21, 2018

    Each and every photo featured on your blog just blows my mind!💕 They’re gorgeous.
    I’ve heard a lot about Naples, and this post was brilliantly written, as per usual…!
    http://www.beautynbrushes.co.uk 💛 🌼

    • Reply

      Julia

      January 22, 2018

      Thank you!

  22. Reply

    Susanne

    February 13, 2018

    Actually I’d never go to Naples! They say it’s a beautiful city but I prefer going to the countryside and mountain areas with small towns and villages where everything is safer and nicer.

    • Reply

      Julia

      February 13, 2018

      Yes I love visiting smaller towns, too! The small villages in Tuscany were some of my favorites.

  23. Reply

    Sarah

    February 16, 2018

    I really didn’t like Naples either. So much of it felt dirty, grungy and unsafe. I was constantly leered at and propositioned (even dressed modestly and travelling with a male), it was impossible to cross the street without nearly being run down, and a creepy guy tried to steal my friend’s wallet. No dead pigeons, though!

    Perhaps it didn’t help that we happened to be there over the Easter weekend so much of the city was closed. It seemed like a lot of the locals were away and the only people left besides tourists were scalpers and dodgy scammers.

    I know people who LOVED Naples so maybe we were just unlucky or picked a bad part of town to stay in.

    • Reply

      Julia

      February 17, 2018

      I’ve been hearing from so many people that they had a similar experience in Naples! Hopefully there are nicer areas there!

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