We took a late morning train out of Rome on the 21st and headed to our last stop on the mainland of Italy, Naples. There was just one thing we wanted to be sure to do while here and that was visit the National Archaeological Museum which is where the original artifacts from Pompeii are housed. The next day we would be touring the actual ruins and Pompeii was high on both of our must-see lists for Italy. I remember being fascinated when I learned about Pompeii in middle school and I have always wanted to see it in person!
The train ride was fast and easy and then we hopped in a taxi to our hotel, the Renaissance Naples. It ended up being in a great location for what we wanted to do (we walked to the museum, the shopping we needed and the harbor quite easily) and our room had a view of the harbor, one of the castles and Mount Vesuvius which was really nice.
Our first task once we unloaded everything into our room was figuring out where to do laundry. The hotel's service was still pretty expensive (although not nearly as much as in Rome) but they were able to direct us to a little laundromat around the corner from them. We walked over and "talked" to the sweetest woman who ran the business. She spoke no English so there was a lot of hand gestures and writing numbers on paper, etc. She was pregnant and we found out that she was having a boy and has two girls already. I showed her on my phone that we have the same and it was so fun! She thought Preston was beautiful and it will be one of my favorite memories from the trip making this special connection with her!
We stopped and ate a little gastronomia (we loved these places for lunch!) that isn't on Trip Advisor yet called Bistrot Cervantes near our hotel and the laundromat. It really hit the spot for us! Fresh, light, great quality food.
From there we started our walk up to the National Archaeological Museum. We really enjoyed walking around Naples because we didn't feel like tourists. Everyone else walking around were students and workers on lunch breaks, etc. and it was nice to be somewhere where we felt like we were seeing a little bit of a more normal day.
The museum was once again huge and had some amazing amazing things to see from Pompeii and Herculaneum. Quite a few parts of the museum were closed which was annoying but we still saw a lot and it made us more excited to see the ruins the next day. I took a lot of pictures while there. I just couldn't believe we were seeing the actual items recovered!
these little guys were playing cards and I loved all the flowers for sale in Naples!
we walked by a McDonalds that advertised gluten free hamburger buns!
I loved this skeleton because it was completely different from everything else!
the secret room...it was hilarious to watch a group of students going into it on a school field trip
just lots more ancient stuff piled around outside the museum :-)
The other thing I really wanted to do while in Naples was look for a presepe (nativity). I had read that there was an area in Naples that had the highest concentration of shops selling them and thought it would be a great souvenir for us and for our parents.(an article HERE talks about it) In my mind I was picturing some elegant white marble ones...everything we saw in every city was made of marble! When we started going through the many shops I realized that is not what I was going to find and was actually pretty disappointed in what I did see. I finally found one little shop where I thought the pieces were actually done beautifully. They were more expensive than we were expecting, but they were hand painted and when will be back?! The little family was so cute. The wife and baby were out in the shop when we started shopping for which pieces we wanted and then the husband, who is the one who actually paints them, came out and helped finish up the sale. It will be fun this Christmas to unwrap them all and remember buying them here.
Before we left he gave us a red cornicello, which we thought were red peppers and which we had seen for sale all up and down this road.
We headed back towards the hotel, picked up our clean clothes (hooray!) and dropped things off at the hotel (I had also picked up a few old Italian books on the way to the museum and they were HEAVY to lug around that whole time!). We walked south from the hotel this time towards the coast. We wanted to eat in a castle but when we got out to the pier where it was it was a little creepy. Maybe we were just too early but we decided to head back towards the main road instead. On the way we came upon a little restaurant that was full of some local moms and their kids so we decided to stay and try it out and were pretty disappointed in our food. It really was the only time it happened though, and we ate a lot of meals on our travels so it was bound to happen at some point :-). We tried out some of the yummy looking snacks along the street on our way home and then made a second stop to what ended up being some of our favorite gelato of the trip, Il Gelato. So, we made up for the dinner in no time ;-)!
Overall we enjoyed Naples. There isn't as much to see as in some of the other cities, but as a result you don't feel like just one more tourist packing into the place and that was definitely nice.