Like many others, I’ve received a lot of good advice through this forum, so I would like to pay it back by describing my time in Italy as a solo traveler between two Rick Steves trips. I started my five week adventure in Italy with the Rick Steves southern Italy trip, which I enjoyed tremendously, but which I will not cover in this trip report. I ended my trip with the best of Switzerland Rick Steves trip, which was also enjoyable, but which is also not covered in this report.
Our Southern Italy trip ended in Naples, and I stayed on an extra two days in order to discover more about this fascinating city. Although it is accurately described as gritty and dirty, it is also a place of indescribable beauty and very friendly people. I stayed in an Airbnb near the train station. This location was not my first choice; however, the Airbnb host had notified me only two weeks before my trip that my original apartment choice was not available, and offered me this secondary choice. With such a short time until my trip, I didn’t have a lot of other choices. The apartment was beautiful and recently renovated, but the location was not optimal. However, it was convenient for me to access the train station on the day I left.
The Rick Steves tour does not include a visit to the Santa Chiara Church, which I would highly recommend for the beautiful tile work in the cloister. I also enjoyed a tour of Napoli Sotteranneo. Together with several of my RS tour companions, I attended a free choir concert at the beautiful Gesù Nuovo church on the night my tour ended. The concert ended with an unforgettable Pie Gesù solo. For a panoramic view the next day, I rode the funicular up to the Castel Sant’Elmo and then walked down the approximately 400 steps back to the Spanish Quarter. I ran into a very large political demonstration with a parade stretching around a km. down the main street. While the demonstration was peaceable, it was really large, so I took the opportunity to pass between parade units and go to another part of town. Unbelievably, while I was walking on SpaccaNapoli, I ran into the granddaughter of a friend, who was bumming around Europe. We enjoyed the concert together and then I took her and her travel companion out for dinner afterwards. On the recommendation of an Italian friend, I had been to Nennella a few nights earlier for dinner and thought the girls would enjoy the singing, dancing waiters and the friendly atmosphere. What I found out was that visiting Nennella on a weekday was far different than visiting on a weekend. We waited over a hour in a smoky, large crowd for a table (they don’t take reservations), and the restaurant was overcrowded, full of noisy bridal parties and students dancing on the tables and chugging cheap wine. Not at all enjoyable for me, but my two young companions enjoyed it. After a very late dinner I returned to my air BnB, did a load of laundry and got ready for my trip to Bologna the next day. (Continued)