Naples is gritty in character, old in every way, and dirty. Its streets weave without a linear grid and maps fail to explain its overlapping vertical levels. Around every corner is either a piazza (square), church, or pizza place. Everything looks really old.
The streets even weave vertically. That’s hard to explain, but it’s a real thing. Alleys curl around hillsides bringing you up and down, stairs weave around buildings.
One minute you’re in a grand square and the next your in a tight street where motorbikes barely fit past and laundry is hanging from balconies.
The city is so full of levels that it even goes underground. It has 3 catacombs and a huge cemetery that is pretty much carved into the side of a cliff.
This is the city that invented pizza yet still only charges 5-6 euros for a full pizza at even the most famous places.
This is a city that will steal a tourist’s wallet faster than any other place in Italy.
This is a place where people literally hang out their windows and talk and yell at each other.
This is a place where a big god damn active volcano might rain rocks from the heavens at any point in time.
This city is one of my favorite cities, maybe my favorite city. Maybe it is what New York was, gritty and beautiful… I don’t know, I missed that era. Now NY is a PC nightmare outlawing smoking and large soda drinks.
I think, though, that it is simply Naples. It’s a city where the churches are so old they were Pagan before they were Christian. Its time is not frozen, but certainly moving at a slower pace. It’s got character. It’s dirty and showing its thousands of years of age but character is so short in stock these days that it’s often faked or embellished. Naples has the real thing.