The first time we go to Europe or to any continent for the first time is always memorable and always an experience you can never forget about. I had my first Euro-trip to Italy, specifically the city of Naples (Napoli for Italian), which is located in southern Italy. I stayed in the town of Monte di Procida where I stayed with my friend inside her family’s Italy house next to her grandpa’s. Before I came there, I really didn’t know what to expect except for having a feel for the Italian culture because of being exposed to it while growing up with my friend and being around her family and around my boyfriend’s culture. I actually learned the language of Italian for 3 years in high school and some in college but it will never even get close to even being fluent or close to the dialect language but it’s certainly nice to know a couple basics.
I spent 2 weeks there (it’s actually pretty long for a vacation) and to me, the whole experience was such a culture shock. It was the first country I’ve been to that had a completely different primary language but thanks to having friends over there that knows English + Italian, they were able to help me out and translate things for me. I do think the country is beautiful and there’s so much things that I’ve learned from being 4,298 miles away from home.
Instead of writing a series of posts for Italy, which I could have been doing, I decided to simplify my experiences since I spent 2 weeks there, so along with my iPhone taken pictures, here are things that I’ve learned:
The whole city is surrounded by water.
This might be a given but the views you’ll come across is blue, and I mean sapphire BLUE water, mountains, and volcanoes in the background. It’s overall a beautiful scenery.
Houses are on hills and houses are built on top of each other.
You will literally walk going upwards or going downwards on hills to get to another street sometimes. From my friend’s town Monte di Procida, you will almost always need to walk upwards on an open pathway and small road made of brick stones then go up more to pass her neighbors’ houses to get to her home. It’s quite an intense work out but that’s what you expect when homes are on hills.
Also the homes will most likely be built on top of each other or really adjacent that you can literally hear neighbors and their conversations loud and clear. There is sometimes not that much privacy especially if you are placed downstairs and another home is next to you but from upstairs, you have to make sure the windows are closed so there’s no possibility of someone sneakingly peeking at you lol.
The houses will be colored in colorful, vivid colors.
There’s not a house that you will pass by without such colorful exterior. I honestly love it and it gives such a happy vibe the fact you know you’re passing by a pretty town when you see them.
There are beaches everywhere.
I probably came across 4 different beaches in my 2 weeks stay in Naples. Some of them are walking distance but it can be hours to get to, like this one time my friends and I hiked our way to go to the beach for 2 hours and back. This was also a great work out, even though I was really dying walking in the heat.
What I noticed from all these beaches was that the beach water usually did not have violent waves, it was rather very calming and there was very little to no waves that were produced. I loved floating in the beaches’ water because of this. You could even walk for a while until you can feel yourself getting into deeper areas of the ocean; most of it was very shallow at the first couple of feet getting into the water.
Their pizza is very fresh and ultimately the best. You even get a pie of your own rather than a slice served to you.
I have tried so many different kinds of pizza in America as it’s a popular dish over here but some of them just don’t compare to the way the pizza is made in Italy. In fact, the city of Naples is known for founding the food of pizza. They use fresh ingredients and their ingredients slightly differed from the tomato sauce. The tomato sauce, as I have read, you will most likely find olive oil, pureed fresh tomatoes in them. The crust is also very different; it’s more thinned out dough. They will also put light amounts of cheese but just right. That is why they will serve you a medium sized pie for one individual because the light crust and ingredients won’t have you feeling full like a slice or two of American pizza can. I’m getting hungry for Italian pizza as I type this… mmmm.
They have this delicious drink I will never find in America: Caffe del Nonno.
Caffe del Nonno, meaning in Italian for “Grandpa’s coffee”, is their twist for espresso drinks. I’m not a fan of espresso and I don’t think I will ever drink it alone but when it’s made into a frozen tasty drink, I might as well drink it. I love coffee in general and I love the magic of caffeine immediately making me wake up. Thanks to Caffe Del Nonno being served almost everywhere in Naples, I was luckily able to drink this to get a day full of energy started. The ones I had were usually served in such tiny glasses but it was just right and strong enough to work its magic.
Most of the people there are accepting and have a love for freedom.
Some nights my friends and I would go out drinking in bars, specifically out on the beach, where there are tables set up everywhere on the beach. There would also be DJs and it seemed lots of these youthful people (I believe the drinking legal age there is 16) enjoy a social life, getting with their group of friends and drinking with each other and going out dancing. Some people could be quite friendly towards foreigners and even try to speak or conversate in English, if they did know, towards you. I remember that there was this one night where there was a huge beach party set up by local young adults that my friends and I attended and there were sparklers on the beach, people serving alcohol, while people were dancing on the sand yet swimming in the water all at night time (probably the only beach party I’ve been to in my life to be honest). Overall, it was an insanely fun and crazy night.
They hold this religious parade with a festival every summer.
It’s a very lively festival where Italians hold this religious festival for three days. Many people gather around for this and celebrate with such joy. They hold tents or booths selling merchandise, having food stands, and set up carnival rides and games. The street food for this festival were soooo good and so cheap and the rides are fun. There was especially this one ride where you sit down and have to hold on for your dear life while it spins and I went on it which is something I would never forget because I would never go on a ride unless you convince me to. I actually had fun going on it but it still makes me question how is this ride even still around… I heard from a friend that someone from a different part of Naples died when they went on this ride.
Then the last day, a statue of Saint Mary is carried around with priests and people who work for the church and people all over the town of Monte di Procida follow it around while they carry it throughout the town. A lot of families dress formal for this event in sundresses and things like that too. At night, people and boats crowd around the Acquamorta Beach to watch these huge fireworks go off, which was the most beautiful firework show I’ve seen. And then, they hold a concert event where famous Italian singers perform and have classical music play. I saw this Italian rapper then.
I ate figs almost every night when we had dinner.
I never tried the actual fruits of figs until I joined every night with my friend and her grandpa for dinner and he always offered me figs from breakfast to dinner and it was absolutely delicious. I think I’m going to try to find where they are in farmers’ markets.
Gelato over there is so good and they have some flavors that are rare to find in here.
I always loved gelato and actually prefer it over American ice cream but the gelato from Italy was so delicious especially because the flavors differ from ones you find right away in America. It’s definitely a treat you need to have on hot summer days.
You can get to another island just by taking a boat.
That’s what my friends and I did. For one day, we spent the whole day in this other island called Procida. It’s a beautiful quaint town with a peaceful beach, colorful buildings, and shops at every street. There’s also another well known island that Napoletano (people from Naples) go to spend time at. Besides the beautiful Capri, which I didn’t get to see, there is also Ischia and a couple of other islands in the Naples Bay.
They have places specifically just to relax at pools.
There’s this place called Ammot, located in the “city part” of Naples, where there are so many different luxury-styled kinds of pools you can go in. I’ve never really came across a place like this, usually there would be pools attached to a hotel that I’ve seen in America but this was a resort exclusively for people who want to swim in pools and tan. It was really nice, considering the beach was just outside and you can see the other islands in the background too.
The cemeteries are beautifully designed.
The gravestones in this cemetery were all made out of marble (EVERY one of them) and they have stones placed inside them. It was pretty nice to look at especially when there were flowers placed on top of EACH gravestone.
These 1 euro granitas being sold in the beaches were so useful.
In Italy, during the summer, it gets SO hot especially if you’re lying on the beach all day but these 1 euro granitas (a semi-frozen dessert, almost like a slushy) are so good to have especially when you get thirsty or hungry but there are no food places or stands are near you; it’s a quick fix to quench your thirst. It’s also a good substitute for ice cream/gelato.
There are endless of cafes.
You can find them by the beaches to outside. Anywhere. You can get your quick fix for Caffe del Nonnos, sparkling water, or alcoholic beverage in these cafes or something to snack on.
Places can be walking distance BUT it can be tiring for those who aren’t willing to walk.
I have arrived to a close by town called Bacoli with my friend and her sister. It was about an hour walk if I can recall. It’s also a nice town.
Overall, I believe Italy is a beautiful country with so much sun, delicious foods, and happiness to offer. It’s worth visiting Naples and I can’t wait to have more journeys in other parts of the country of Italy in the future hopefully!!