I am being told Naples is still an unsafe city. Both Rick & Samantha Brown say otherwise. My husband & I (mature couple) travel often , follow saftey guidelines & have never had a problem. I hate to bypass someplace that might be interesting, but don't want our trip ruined if it is really an issue.
thanks to all of you. I think we will just do a day trip or spend a few hours while changing trains from Rome...I actually was born in the Bronx & love wandering NYC...We know how to be smart about street folks and my family jewels are the pics we bring back from our trips. I think we at least have to stop long enough to try original pizza!
Go to Naples. It is a very interesting city and not like any other Italian city that I have visited. The train station has been modernized in the past few years and now resembles the Termini station in Rome. The city itself is very intense in a crowded, very busy way. It is not for everyone, including me. The pizza and archaeology museum make it worth at least a few hours; some travelers make it a daytrip from Sorrento. If you stay overnight, find a good hotel. There are a number of no-star hotels in the train station area, but also at least one or two of the "American big hotel" variety. For my money, the bakeries with all the Neopolitan goodies are the best part. Cannoli, etc. I found the people, on the street and in the shops, very friendly.
By American standards Naples is super safe. If you check the crime statistics of American cities over 500,000 people (I did) and compare them to the crime statistics of Naples, you will discover that if Naples were in the US it would be the safest city of that size, except for Honolulu and San Jose. The bad reputation Naples has is due to organized crime (Camorra), however those mobsters aren't interested in tourists. Yet, in spite of the Neapolitan mafia, Washington, DC is still 3 times more dangerous. If you decide to stay overnight one of the best areas to stay is near Piazza Plebiscito. I don't care much for the area near the station (Piazza Garibaldi).
Naples is the only place in Europe that I truly hated and couldn't wait to leave. It wasn't about crime. The streets were full of trash, especially in the historic quarter. There were more beggars than I've seen anywhere. There's good public transport, but no guide or maps to it. E.g., we wasted an entire morning trying to get to the Archaeological Museum, following the directions given by our B&B host. The reason, which cropped up several more times, is that locals will name a place - - bus stop or transfer point - - by something close to it, but maybe two blocks away. Leaves the tourist kind of lost. Now, admittedly, this was all ten years ago, so maybe things have improved. However, if anyone asks me, I recommend staying in Pompeii for two nights. One to see it and one to ride into Naples and see the museum. Alternatively, basing in Sorrento, from which you can also visit the attractions of the Amalfi Coast.
I also prefer staying outside of Naples and do day trips there. There are frequent commuter trains from the Sorrento Peninsula. From Sorrento to Naples it is only 70 min by train. Naples is overall safe but very busy and chaotic. Traffic is also horrible. Since you live in a small community in NH and probably are not used to chaotic large cities (much like NYC), I suggest you stay in the surrounding smaller towns and Sorrento's Peninsula is perfect. Naples is definitely worth a day trip however, not just for the Archeological museum, but also for the beautiful piazzas and other things. Pompeii is half way between Sorrento and Naples. They did have a lot of problems with garbage a few years back (as late as 2009). The garbage collection and processing business is contracted out to companies under Camorra control and the authorities shut down their dumps because were not compliant with sanitation laws (or any laws), therefore they didn't know where to unload the garbage trucks. Not sure if the situation is back to normal now, but I don't hear it much on the Italian TV news anymore.
This comes up so often and it's so intractable, there should be a book called Debunking the Bad Rap on Naples.
Right up front, I'll say that the only time we've been to Naples was 10 years ago. At that time, we found it much more difficult to enjoy than every other place we had been in Italy. It's good to hear that things may be changing for the better. I had certainly hoped to enjoy Naples, esp. since we really love Rome. Maybe that day is coming soon. I imagine that there's still graffiti everywhere, as there is in so much of Italy. That alone is a big surprise to some people.
I love Naples and go there almost every year, alone. Roberto is right about the safety stats. One thing I noticed was a lack of jewelry worn on the streets. As for trash, in 2011 it was as high as my head in some places, but in 2012 the streets were reasonably clean - some litter in some areas but no mountains of trash. Go for the food (try a sfogliatelle pastry), the views of the bay, the art, and the exuberance of the people.
We are also a mature (late 60s) couple. In 2011 we spent three nights in Naples and we loved it. We stayed in a hotel on Piazza Garibaldi for the proximity to the train and metro station. Yes, we were warned off by many posters but we decided not to be afraid and to experience it for ourselves. We spent one day going to Herculanum (having visited Pompeii from Sorento) and 1.5 days exploring Naples. We walked and took the metro to everywhere we wanted to go. Must say we did not wander out after dark as our hotel conveniently had a good restaurant. Yes, there was garbage in the streets - when the bins were emptied in the morning it seemed they filled to overflowing in a couple of hours. We found the people to be very helpful, some stopping in the street when they saw us looking at the map and giving us directions and recommendations. The archaeological museum is not to be missed. Naples also has many churches, piazzas, and the oldest indoor shopping mall, and many interesting buildings. The food is great! You seem to be experienced travellers so you know that pickpockets exist everywhere and you know to take normal precautions. Naples is a vibrant and interesting city but you have to decide for yourselves.
Janet - I'm a big fan of Naples. I've been twice in the last two years, and plan on visiting again this summer. I won't lie to you; Naples IS dirty. But that doesn't mean it's unsafe. A lot of tourists make the mistake of confusing grime with danger. Naples is an incredibly vibrant city, and if you can put up with a little trash in the street and dingy/ramshackle building facades, you're in for a real treat. The city is incredibly chaotic, however. People who thrive in an enviroment like New York City will find Naples irresistable. People who are easily overwhelmed outside of small towns and well-organized suburbs will find Naples maddening. If your idea of a perfect Italian vacation is tooling around in small Tuscan villages, and somewhere like Rome is too much of a headache for you, you might be better served skipping Naples. But if you like the intensity of Rome, Naples is all that and more, dialed up to an 11 out of 10. If you think Naples would be right up your alley, by all means stay in the city. Avoid staying near Piazza Garibaldi... you get absolutely no sense of a city's true character when staying by it strain station. I prefer to be right in the thick of things, just off Piazza Dante (Hotel Correra 241 is a favorite). Sorrento is not my kind of place at all. It feels too Americanized/Anglicized for my tastes, like a resort town for people who want to go somewhere exotic, but not too "foreign." It feels like Italy Lite to me.
I agree 100% with Kat's reply above. I'll just add two quotes I keep coming back to when the subject of Naples is raised. First, Rick's own words: "If you like Italy as far south as Rome, go farther south. It gets better. If Italy is getting on your nerves, don't go farther. Italy intensifies as you plunge deeper." Second, from my old Cadogan guide: "The only subtle thing about Naples is its charm." Kat is right, Sorrento is for people who want to see Italy without the intensity. I'm not criticizing that - people are allowed to relax on their vacation, after all. So, if Rome is "too much," Sorrento is perfect. If Rome is exciting (and it sure is for me), then Naples is...over the top and in your face, but still a great place to see. In addition to the Archeology Museum (one of my most memorable experiences), see the Cappella Sansevero. It's most famous for the Veiled Christ, but I found Disillusion even more amazing.
Naples is very interesting, We spent 2 days in Jan 2013 and wished we had spent more. Yes, it is very trashy, but I would rather be there than New Orleans. We stayed at the Hotel Uno right across from the train station and found it to be a convenient location. Our room was on the fifth floor and had a balcony that opened out upon the main square. Traffic lights?...we don't need no stinkin traffic lights! We are also a mature couple and never felt unsafe. GO
Janet, I agree with Roberto and the others - Naples is a fascinating city and there's no reason to avoid it because of its "reputation". This reputation is so entrenched that a Flight Attendant (from an Italian family) told me "my parents absolutely forbid me from going to Naples". It's often described as "gritty" and that seems to be an apt description. There's a bit more risk with things like crossing the street, as red lights are more of a "guideline" and few drivers obey them. I suppose it could be dangerous if venturing into the Spanish Quarter at night but in most cases the biggest risk is from pickpockets, and Naples has some of the best. If you wear a Money Belt and practice normal precautions, you shouldn't have any trouble. As mentioned in previous posts, that's why it's not a good idea to wear expensive jewelry and Rolex Watches. Spending at least one night would allow a more relaxed tour of the Archeological Museum and a fine meal of genuine Neopolitan Pizza (as opposed to taking a day trip). If you stay in the area around Piazza del Plebiscito, have a look at Hotel Chiaia. While there you could also stop at the fantastic Gambrinus Bar for pastries or perhaps a few glasses of Limoncello. I wandered all over that area with a large Camera day and night, and never felt unsafe (there's usually a Police Van parked in the Piazza in front of Gambrinus). Happy travels!