Is Naples Safe? – The Answer From Someone Who Has Been

 

Is Naples Safe?
The thing you’re most likely to die for in Naples is the views.

 

Beyond stupid in Naples yet strangely safe

It was 3 a.m. and I was wandering the streets of Naples, lost, alone, under the influence of alcohol and with little choice but to check my location on my iPhone. I was breaking every rule on my travel safety list and a few besides. I was stupid beyond belief and yet I walked through the Saturday night streets without trouble.

If you believe the travel forums, it was statistically inevitable that I would come to harm in some way but look as I did, there were no thieves, no Mafia bosses and the dregs of society that apparently patrol the streets of Naples were either tucked up in bed or, more likely, nothing more than a figment of the average traveller’s imagination.

I thought twice about sharing the opening of this post because it falls neatly into the Top 10 Most Stupid Things I’ve Ever Done (I should probably pen a post on that topic) and I’m in no way proud of my carelessness that got me into that situation.

I also don’t want to use this example of stupidity to suggest that you can behave recklessly and all will be fine. I was lucky. I have no doubt. In most cities around the world, wandering the streets as I did puts you instantly into the category of prey and I counted my lucky stars as folded all of my intact limbs into bed that night.

However, my jaunt into stupidity hammered home a feeling I’d had in Naples since I arrived – the city does not present the feeling of danger that the scaremongers would have you believe.

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Is Naples safe? Who are these people who say no?

Is Naples safe?
A lovely local man who agreed to pose for a photograph with his children.

I paused longer than usual before booking a stay in the city that came with strong warnings for safety. Trawl the web and there are countless posts asking is Naples is safe or dangerous. Time and again the reply comes with a resounding yes. I received the same answer when I asked people during my month-long trip through Italy.

But the answer ‘yes’ bothered me in its flippancy. Perhaps it was years as a lawyer that trained me to dig deeper, but my questions were more detailed and no one seemed to have the answer.

Is Naples safe?

Ok, if Naples is apparently unsafe, what does that mean – what does danger look like in Naples? I know in Rio it means I might get shot. I know in India it means I might get harassed by men. I know in Hawaii it means I might get bitten by a shark. So, advisers on Naples, what are the risks you’re warning about? Am I likely to get raped, robbed and shot? And, if so, where in the city? Does this happen in high-end restaurants, in the train station in the small hours or at the castles near the port – they looked pretty safe to me?  Am I likely to be recruited by the Mafia or drug dealers who will send me from Ibiza to Peru to smuggle drugs (I am English, after all!)? Will I wake up and find a horse’s head in my bed? Or is the real risk that I’d fall in love with the famous pizza, gorge on Mozzarella and die of obesity?

No detail could be offered. It seemed people had an instinctive response that Naples was dangerous, but singularly failed to tell me why.

I tried a different approach, conscious that articulating thoughts isn’t always easy –

“Does anyone know (directly or indirectly) someone who has been attacked, hurt, robbed…or recruited by the Mafia…in Naples? Anyone…[silence]….anyone at all? No horses heads? Nothing?”

I checked the Lonely Planet for Italy, my go-to guide for a good, honest overview on a destination’s safety:

“Petty crime can be a problem in Naples but with a little common sense you shouldn’t have a problem.” Lonely Planet, Italy

Seriously, that was it? The risk I’d so often been warned about was one of petty crime? The same could be said for my hometown and most other place around the world. The solution simple – hand over possessions, walk away (ask a travel companion to wait 30 minutes and go buy it back).

With a an internet search, Lonely Planet guide and a straw poll of travellers and locals in my information toolbox, I assessed the advice – the naysayers told me to steer clear, but couldn’t tell me why and the guide book I trusted seemed to think common sense would get me by (assuming I didn’t do something like get drunk and walk the streets alone shakes head at self).

Meanwhile, I’d researched the city and was overwhelmed by the number of historic sights to see and divine foods to taste. There was no competition – to Naples I would go.

Planning your trip: I used the Italy Lonely Planet Guidebook. Although it’s not filled with pictures, it’s got all the details you need including train and bus routes and times as well as city maps. There is also a Naples specific Lonely Planet guidebook if you prefer (also covering Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast).

If you’re after more pictures, I like the DK Eyewitness Guides for their images and 3D guides to major sites.

Safety in Naples – my overwhelming impression

Is Naples Safe?
Seriously, lemons nearly as big as my head. Now, these could be dangerous if they fell from a tree.

I genuinely believe that if you’re told enough times that a place is unsafe, it starts to affect your behaviour, and often for the worse.  Conscious I didn’t want to creep through Naples in the shadow of fear, attracting danger like a magnet, I decided to tackle the fear others had impressed on me head on.

Arriving in the city in daylight and with my most practiced (fake but outwardly confident) ‘don’t f*ck with me’ face affixed, I did the 30-minute walk to my hostel.

It’s fair to say that the train station is not the nicest area in the city. As well as a hangout for the homeless and beggars I was offered an iPad for sale – the previous owner’s data still intact. Petty theft, it seems, is an issue in Naples. But isn’t it the same in many large cities around the world? And aren’t train stations usually in the seedier part of town – look at Termini in Rome?

Is Naples safe?
Naples has some of Italy’s most amazing architecture.

As the train station grew further and further away, the city of Naples opened up presenting one grand building after another. Some crumbling, some gloriously restored. I didn’t feel unsafe. In fact, I felt nothing, – I was simply another nobody blending into the streets of another large city while people went about their business. And it felt good – there was no tourist target on my back and I was grateful for it.

Backpack disposed of and new room-mate/sight-seeing companion acquired, we hit the port, saw the sights, wandered through the city and eventually collapsed into a café – due granitas limone, per favour!

As dusk fell and the ogres didn’t show, we hit a bar for a beer and then some pizza before walking back to our hostel, entirely untroubled. It was a pattern we repeated – shopping, eating, drinking, sight-seeing, talking football with the locals (quick message back to my dad in Liverpool to ensure I wasn’t betraying the country with my lack of knowledge).

Is Naples Safe?
Pizza from the birth town of pizza.

On the recommendation of an Italian foodie friend, we sought out two pizza places that were crammed in amongst the local’s laundry down narrow streets a tourist might not venture were it not for the promise of the world’s best pizza. And we were fine. In fact, when one pizza joint was closed (it was Monday), a homeless lady hobbled over to meet our disappointment with an alternative recommendation. It wasn’t like Florence – she didn’t ask for money. It wasn’t like Rome – she didn’t try to trick us into an unsafe location. She simply recognised our search for good food and helped us accordingly.

IMG_7559

On the night I was silly, we drank wine in the street, the man in the store ready with cups and a corkscrew to facilitate our frugal choice of tipple. We spoke to doctors, laughed with waiters and had an all out good time (my end of night stupidity excepted).

The experience was friendly, the welcome warm, and my experience the exact opposite of what I’d be warned. I didn’t wander out to the station area after dark and even at the hands of my own stupidity I felt safe the entire time in Naples.  And that feeling of safety left me with a sadness.

Where to Stay in Naples

On a budget: I stayed at Hostel of the Sunwhich was in a great, safe location by the port (even if it’s a bit tucked away). I walked there from the station, which took about 30 minutes, otherwise there is a metro station nearby. You’re also within walking distance of the Alibus airport shuttle-bus stop at Molo Beverello Port.

Hotels: the best of the best: Here you’ll find a list of the 10 best hotels in Naples (according to Trip Advisor). On my bucket list is La Ciligina Lifestyle Hotel, for a slice of Naples’ modern and luxurious side (and also with a great location). If you’re after views and don’t mind taking taxis (you’re not near a metro station), then Grand Hotel Vesuvio has views of the volcano itself. 

Challenging the stereotypes

Is Naples Safe?
Narrow streets, multi-rise apartments and laundry hanging off balconies are part of the texture of everyday life in Naples.

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The city of Naples undoubtedly has a reputation, and not a good one, and for this reason many people pass her beauty by. The architecture as grand as Rome in places, the people real and unfussy and the food, oh the food!

The purpose of this post is not to sell you Naples (hopefully some of the images have already done that), but to help you stop and think.  So many people accept the advice of others without question.

“Is Naples safe?”

“No.

“In that case, I won’t go.”

Is Naples Safe?

Who are these people giving this advice? People who have never been? People who rarely leave the comfort of their immediate environment? Concerned locals who underestimate the resilience of travellers who have already taken themselves halfway around the world? People who heard a story from someone who heard a story from someone who heard that Naples is unsafe?

I’d not suggesting you take a risk, but I’m recommending you make a challenge – to everyone who tells you Naples is unsafe. Ask them how it is unsafe (if it’s petty theft by the station, this can be guarded against), ask them who they know who has been. Do your research and make an informed decision. And hopefully that decision will be yes, because the sights of Naples are worth it.

The Lonely Planet guide is right – with a little common sense you shouldn’t have a problem in Naples….and even without it, you’ll probably be fine, too.

Note: I kind of believe in karma so the night I walked home alone, I had €20 in my purse. It could easily have been taken from me, but it wasn’t and I was so grateful to get back safe with all my possession and body parts intact that I paid my penance by depositing my last €20 note under the makeshift pillow of a homeless lady sleeping on cardboard boxes in a doorway. It seemed a fair trade with karma and served as a good reminder to keep my stupidity in check for future trips.

Have you been to Naples – what was your experience? Did you find Naples safe or unsafe?

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88 thoughts on “Is Naples Safe? – The Answer From Someone Who Has Been”

  1. Jo, Thank you for writing this article. I am of Neapolitan descent, and I have lived in New York City. Of course, as you mention, you need to take precautions wherever you are/travel to, but I didn’t find Naples to be any more dangerous than any other city I’ve visited. In fact, I felt safer there than in NYC. I think, as one poster mentioned, there is a detailed history there that goes back to the period after unification in 1861. I think it stems from the fact that Southern Italians fought the invading Northern army and were labeled “brigands” and “bandits” instead of people protecting their homeland. There has always been a strong anti-South bias in the North of Italy. Unfortunately, I see this bias carrying over into our foodways with food media predominantly from Northern Italy discrediting the food of Southern Italy and the Southern Italian immigrants who brought their foodways to the United States from Italy. This is one reason I wrote my book, Authentic Italian, which I would love for you to read. Let me know if you want a copy. I can send it to you.

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  2. Unfortunately our bad reputation is part of seriously historical mistakes being made after the unification of Italy. Once it was a great and advanced city but was left to its destiny after 1861. We went through a bad economical and industrial crisis because we’d been stolen of all our patrimony by the new state. This is still quite evident in today’s attitude of the average Neapolitan citizen towards central government. All we have achieved throughout these last few years, we’ve done that on our own. We are gradually building back our city. Of course it’s got some problems but I can tell I felt more unsafe in Milan than I do in Naples by night. It’s a beautiful city and it deserves to be given a chance. The only danger in Naples is for your diet.

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  3. Hi Jo,
    thank you for your article about my city. Of course there are a lot of issues living here (public administration, traffic, lack of services, “hidden” mafia, much more for the neapolitans themselves than for the tourists…) , of course there are some tourist experiencing bad situation, that has been robbed and similar , but i think there’s only a very minimal percentage, perhaps in the average of any big chaotic city (i left all my luggage in a car in Oslo, and everything was stolen, and i did because “I am from Napoli, nothing can really happen to me in Oslo” ahahah!) . But , if we come to be really “unsafe” (rape, armed robbery or worse), i have never heard something similar in Napoli. And , living here for my 49 years life, i still find my city fascinating, even the wide crumbling down areas. And , finally, i cannot judge by myself, but i think we have the best food in the world (sorry for this lack of humility ahahah!) .

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  4. Hi, thanks for a great article. I saw this while researching my current trip (which doesn’t include Naples) and had to laugh. I went a couple of years ago with very little research and didn’t realise that it even had this reputation before going. I have to admit the first night we got there (in day light) I felt very unsafe as our hostel was near the port and didn’t look like a great part of town, we got out of the taxi down a random side street and the hostel looked like it was in an abandoned building. But we went up the elevator and it was the best hostel we’ve stayed at in Europe! That night we went out searching for good pizza, the hostel worker told us to not go near the train station as we would be mugged and robbed… We took a wrong turn and ended up at the train station at 11pm at night.. there were empty wallets all over the ground and even a couple of empty pants and homeless people. We tried to look casual and not like tourists but felt like everyone was staring at us (I’m sure they weren’t). We ended up getting hopelessly lost down random back alleyways and only found the hostel as we walk downhill figuring that was were the port would be. Not once were we troubled or harassed at all! By the end of our week in Naples it was the highlight of our Europe trip!

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  5. We, or I for that matter booked our honeymoon here after getting married in Malta. And as all things go, I never heard this place was “horrible” as a lot of people that have never been there put it, until after I was there. We had a great time. I admit, certain areas were dirty and it seemed every wall on every building was spray painted from 0 to 6 feet, but we never felt unsafe. We drank and walked everywhere and almost every night was a late night out (wandering drunkenly) and we had no problems.

    I’m not gonna say I wasn’t prepared and captious of something happening, cause I certainly was, however this is the case in a lot of European cities. Be aware and beware. In fact, at one point I thought we were about to get robbed, or possibly something worse at one point. (mid day nonetheless) anyways, the guy I thought was gonna do what he needed to do, waited for us in a street elevator, then asked where we were from and warned us about the area. I laughed..

    At any rate, like most places in Europe, be careful. These are places people are in dire situations and will do what it takes for survival.

    Great article. Thank you

    D

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    • Glad you liked the article. I’m even more pleased you had a great time in Naples – what a great honeymoon destination and the story about the guy in the street elevator is fantastic! Thanks for taking the time to comment.

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  6. I visited Naples in November 2017 and enjoyed my time! (Jo, I found this post right before I took the train there. Thanks!) As with many other locales, the city does warrant an awareness of your surroundings to ward off potential annoyances and avoid getting run over by a scooter in the crowded, narrow streets. However, I really feel like the ‘dirty and dangerous’ description is undeserved.

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    • Hi Ann, glad you found my post and it’s also good to hear that you also didn’t find dirty and dangerous to be the defining features of Naples.

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  7. Elena hahahah of course the only negative review of Naples between these comments comes from a Northern Italian. Guess what, keep hating us, we don’t care. The rest of the world is flooding to Naples. Tourism was 24% up the last year alone. People in Napoli finally understood that Northern Italy is its only real enemy and we are communicating with the rest of the world without your interference. My girlfriend is German and guess what? she loves Napoli. Her friends are German and guess what? They love Napoli. I invite people from all over the world to come to Naples, here you find a concentration of monuments from Greek, Roman, Norman, French and Spanish ages, some of the best food you can possibly taste and some of the most beautiful sea locations such as Capri, Procida, Sorrento, Amalfi, Vetri and so on. It’s worth it. Neapolitans are friendly and open. You should avoid some peripheral areas, but this is true for any city of the world. My brother was robbed in the center of London, yet he never had a problem in Napoli. Don’t mind the Northern Italians… it’s their goal since 1861 to send only negative messages about our city, to incentive tourism in their towns. Listen to the experiences of other foreigners, those of Northern Italians are totally biased an unreliable. Elena, guess what, we hate you too.

    Reply
    • Be nice to each other – I’m all for differing views but let’s not resort to hate. I LOVE Naples and I love the diversity of people who read my blog.

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  8. Napoli isn’t a safe city: there’s a lot of rubbish on the streets, pushers, criminals, peddlers; the city smells really bad and you can’t take a bus or a metro smoothly, because of robbers.
    Napoli (in art and architecture) is a beautiful city, but…. but Neapolitan not. One of my close friend goes to Napoli for a trip last summer (2016) and she was shocked how Neapolitans live: shouts, shootings between neighbors, very and very dirty streets, loud horn and 4 persons (four!) on one scooter without helmet, homemade bombs throwed from balcony […]

    In Italy, Napoli is the most hated city. I’m Italian (from the north-east) and I can guarantee that Napoli isn’t a safe city. People can be cheerfull or generous, but It’s only a mask, a lie, only for attract tourists; you can be robbed in every moment and, generally speaking, you’ll may be cheated because when they see a tourist, they’ll add an extra charge on what you want to buy.

    If I were you, I’ll not go to Napoli and in south Italy in general (an exception for Puglia). I went to Calabria and Sicily… and the visit was very, very horrible.

    And no: Napoli isn’t a safe city.

    Reply
    • Hi Elena, thanks for stopping by to share your thoughts. I do wonder whether you have visited the city personally – you just mention a couple of other places in the south that you’ve been: Calabria and Sicily. I also think it’s important to distinguish between unpleasant and unsafe factors – a lot of rubbish, horn honking and a bad smelling city doesn’t make it unsafe. If that were the case, most large cities in the world would be unsafe. Equally, getting ripped off happens to tourists all over the world (usually by taxi drivers in my experience). And in places like Thailand, 4 people on a scooter without helmets is considered a normal way of life. As I mentioned in my post, I didn’t experience any of the things that you mentioned – shootings, robbings, homemade bombs. I’m also not convinced you have experienced it either. I’d be interested to hear from your friend first-hand. Do ask her to stop by because at the moment this feels like one of those ‘someone who knows someone who had a bad time in Naples’ examples I entirely dismiss for lacking in real proof. Once again, thanks for sharing with me and I don’t mean to antagonise but it’s these kinds of sweeping generalisations my article intends to cut through.

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    • Dear all, Elena’s comment is just the maximum expression of ignorance (and envy) of many northen italians, who come from horrible places with no history and no love for each other. I’ve been travelling around all Europe and I can tell you, dear Elena, that wherever you will go you will find people who will add extra charges to tourist. Once, in Slovakia, I paid a packet of cigarettes the double price, just because the old lady understood that I was a tourist just landed there. Naples an be a contradictory city, but it’s so beautiful, as well as their citizens are, although, of course, they are no perfect and, exactly like everyone else in the world, they should try learning new things and how to improve behaviorus (respecting rules, social sense etc..) that for sure are not their best feature. One thing though: they don’t judge without knowing stuff (like you do) and they are so proud of their roots, whereas you can’t be that proud I guess.. Where are you from? Well, I dont know your birth city, but after all, you must almost slovenian or austrian 🙂 I am Neapolitan and much more italian than you. I don’t comment articles about your bloody regions and I don’t talk about things I don’t know well. Dear Elena, you better learn how to cultivate love rather than hate. Another trip to Naples might help you 🙂

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  9. Good day, I realize that I am responding much later than this article is written. Thank you for a great article. I have been reading about the nuclear waste issue in Naples and the “triangle of death.” Is that a concern to others?

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    • Hi K U, tbh I had to google Triangle of Death. Is it actually nuclear waste? I just read ‘toxic’. Of course, neither is good news. From a tourist perspective, I personally wouldn’t let it stop me from visiting, especially as it doesn’t seem to be near the tourist sights and most people affected are long-term residents. But that’s horrible for the local people 🙁 And its the government who is supposed to have the job of protecting its people. Very sad and thanks for brining this to my attention…I’m off to go do some more reading.

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  10. Completely agree with you! I am in Naples after a lot of contemplation. Staying at the Hostel of the Sun!

    The city has a character of its own and must be experienced by all who can.

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    • Hi Namrata, hope you found the hostel and location to be good and I’m pleased you got to Naples. Such an amazing city, isn’t it!

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  11. They made a huge survey a few years ago about safety in Europe. Irish were the ones feeling the most unsafe. Why? Because at that time, when spitting on the floor in continental Europe was unfortunately seen as a normal behaviour, it has only started in Dublin.

    When I was in San Francisco, people told me not to go next to the civic center, it was dodgy (people told people who told people who… and then they missed a beautiful place). I went there. No trouble. Only homeless everywhere. I was attacked near the Painted Ladies, in a very touristy spot. I was the only one with a dslr and I did not listen to my little voice telling me to be careful as I passed next to robbed cars. Well, I kept the camera, they took the bag. Police found the bag 20min later with everything in it but 2 empty memory cards and 15$. The point being, if I had listened to me, my camera would have been hidden and I would have changed course.

    Never had any trouble other than there, never, and I am the kind of explorer getting lost in dodgy districts because I am stubborn…

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    • Amjen, that’s really interesting! The truth is that you can’t spend your life according to other people’s unfounded worries. It seems like you’ve already figured this out and it was quite liberating moment when I realised the same. Instinct is also a powerful thing – I bet you’ve paid more attention to every time since you had your camera grabbed.

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  12. Great blog post!

    I’m going to Naples in just over three weeks. I have my qualms about it from things I’ve read and such but I think it’s mainly nervousness for my first solo holiday. But the more research I do into it, (inc. checking google earth to familiarise myself somewhat) of where to go and what to see I feel reassured. I have already booked day trips to Amalfi coast and Pompeii & Vesuvius which eases the nervousness and overrides that with excitement! And let’s not forget about the food!! Oh the food, I can’t wait!

    I will have small carry on suitcase with me but I’m also thinking of a small backpack. Would a backpack be preferable to let’s say an over the shoulder little bag would you say? I can use the backpack for the day trips?

    Also, lastly, do you have any tips to not stick out like a touristy sore thunb?

    Loving this blog post – great info.

    Thanks

    Maria

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    • Hi Maria,

      I’m glad you’re doing some research about Naples rather than just accepting gossip from people who haven’t been. I’d always try to wear a cross the body bag compared to a shoulder bag as it’s less of an opportunity snatch. I usually wear a crossbody handbag/purse and a boring black daypack (that doesn’t scream ‘traveller’. Check your route before you arrive so you know where you’re going and can walk with confidence and also generally just walking with your head held high and without a look of fear on your face will get you a long way in my experience. Oh, and no ‘I <3 Naples' t-shirts, fanny packs or baseballs caps with the leaning tower of Pisa on them will also help you blend ;p Have an amazing trip!

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  13. Hi, I am Joe, planning to visit Naples in coming August for only a day trip for Capri. Please advise, is it safe for me with my wife and little son? We planned to come Naples in early morning by train from Rome, then avail the Capri ferry service from Molo Beverello or Calata Porta di Massa to see Capri, back to train station to catch return train to Rome before evening. Is it the right plan for my family? Is it safe at all? what are your travel tips for our plan? Is it safe to carry expensive camera, cell phones, watches and some money with us? Regards,

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    • Hi Joe, as I’ve mentioned in my post, I had no personal safety concerns when I was in Naples and although I can’t predict the future, I have no reason to assume you’d have any trouble in Naples. That said, I would leave your expensive watch back in your hotel and only carry as much cash as you need. I’d also be discreet with your cell and camera – keep them in a bag rather than around your neck, dangling like bait from your hand. There are opportunists in every city and this advice stands as much for visiting Rome, London and New York as much as it does for Naples. I hope you have an amazing trip!

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      • Thanks for reply. One more question – what is the easiest way to reach Molo Beverello or Calata Porta di Massa from Napoli train station to avail ferry service? My concern is budget but safe transportation with family. Regards,

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  14. I’m happy I found this blog as I’ve been questioning whether to visit Naples or not. It will only be for one night in August. My 14 year old daughter and I will be ending our self-guided tour of Europe either in Rome or, perhaps now, Naples. The plan is to leave Rome in the A.M. & head to Pompeii on the train, then back to Naples to stay the night and fly back to Canada the next morning. We will both have 60 litre backpacks and now I’m wondering if we should carry these in our hands or just on our backs when we are in the Naples train station. Also, any suggestions on a place to stay that will be easy to get to the airport in the wee hours? I would appreciate any tips!!
    Gwen in New Brunswick, Canada

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    • Hi Gwen, glad my article helped. To be honest, I’d wear your bag as normal. First of all, I always think clutching a bag or putting it on your front scream fear, which screams prey. Also, from a practical perspective…and not that I think this will happen…but it’s a lot easier to grab a pack out of your hands and run off than it is to pull it off your back. Most opportunist thieves wouldn’t bother with a bag that’s secured on your back. This is one of my favourite booking sites (with links to all the Naples accommodation listed by guest rating): . Otherwise a taxi is about 20 euros. Hope that helps – have an amazing trip!

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  15. Hello there! Would you consider Naples a student friendly location? I’m taking this option into account for studying one semester abroad. I’ve always heard of the southern area as being “the dark side of Italy” but is it really that bad? I mean, robbery happens everywhere, people fight, even get shot, etc, but I’d rather get stabbed in my hometown than somewhere 2000 km away from anyone and anything I know. Don’t get me wrong, I would really like to go but I also want to enjoy my time without being afraid of getting spotted as an easy to rob foreigner while taking pictures in the street or shopping for groceries 🙁

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    • Corina, I’d definitely consider Naples to be student friendly. Every place I went into the locals were very chatty and helpful and friendly and I didn’t feel unsafe once. I completely understand your fear but I’m pretty sure you’ll have an amazing time and (save for some very unlucky circumstances or unless you decide to pick a fight with the biggest guy in a biker bar – of which I didn’t see any), you’re not going to get stabbed!!! 🙂 I’ve said this many times to travellers over the years – often out biggest worries about a place occur BEFORE we get there. Fear of the unknown is scary as are stories aimed at perpetuating fear…which is why I wrote this article, to share my experience. I would have no problem looking you or your parents straight in the eye and saying – study in Naples, it’s an amazing place. I hope that helps and, if nothing else, remember, there’s very little in life that can’t be undone. If you don’t like it, go home or change your program. Better than spending the rest of your life wondering what life might have been like if you’d taken the chance.

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  16. Hi there…..love this blog and the great info about Naples. I will be visiting in April and just booked Hotel Piazza Bellini in Spaccanapoli (near Dante metro station). Any comments about staying in this part of the city? And what is the best/safest way to get from the station to my hotel with luggage?

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    • Hi Michael, that’s a great part of the city to be in – you’re right by the main attractions and there’s a bunch of side streets with good pizza and bars. I personally walked from the station to my accommodation (about 30-40 minute walk) and I thought it was fine though it was summer and the middle of the day. If you’re nervous, just take a taxi from the station – it might be more convenient with your luggage anyway (I was just carrying a small backpack). Have an amazing trip and have some pizza and lemon granita for me!

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  17. I lived in Naples ’91 through ’94. I was stationed there with the US Navy and worked as Military Police. We seemed to see it all on our shifts. My lasting memories of the place are of the crazy traffic (red lights are only a suggestion) and petting crime (pickpockets and theft mostly).

    I was in the city day and night at all hours. We went into sketchy bars and nightclubs. Sometimes on duty, sometimes not. In short if you look like a naive tourist someone will be glad to steal your wallet or jewelry or smash your car window to grab your bags. This might happen parked at a hotel or sitting in gridlock traffic.

    For a tourist who has never been far from home, it’s quite a shock. For a well traveled explorer it’s typical of a chaotic big city anywhere and easily anticipated.

    It wasn’t until I read Robert Saviano’s “Gomorrah” that I realized several of the places I was frequenting day and night with local Italian friends were the very towns Mr. Saviano pegged as the hotbed of Camorra activity. These villages were quiet and subdued as I came and went. Even a dog won’t soil it’s own bed so I suspect that’s why these towns were relatively quiet and safe. I can’t count the number of times I drove home after midnight by myself from these areas.

    Unemployment is quite high among the youth and migrants. They are going to earn a living one way or another.

    Other’s here have pointed out the common sense strategies of being left alone. Don’t be flashy. Don’t show your whole roll of cash – just pay for bills from a small stash in your pocket. Maybe carry two wallets, and only draw off of the little cash. Put that flashy camera away and the same probably goes for the $650 cellphones. A few times I was moving around with large sums of cash (like buying a car), I put the money in my boot!

    When my parents came over they were nearly robbed by two 20-something men near the Colosseum in Rome b/c my parents were not aware of their surroundings. It would have been a snatch and grab purse theft. My friend and I were walking 15-20 ft behind them and saw what was about to happen and surprised the thieves and yelled at them. They fled. They were neatly dressed to blend. I watched from an overlook near the Colosseum in Rome another time and watched what i believe were two pickpockets casing tourists. They were watching each other and the people more than the ancient architecture. One grabs the wallet and passes it off to the second, they both leave the area separately. Was “swarmed” by a Gypsy lady and a half dozen kids once. They had a piece of cardboard that they shoved into my belly under which I suspect the theft would occur. I simply distanced myself with a stern “NO”. My naive American buddy questioned why I was so rude to them. I explained the possible scheme and he got the picture quickly. Another scheme was a gypsy lady who hands you a baby which you of course don’t want to drop – and then she has your attention and you “can’t leave” until she gives up begging for money. Let me say i drove out to a gypsy camp one summer that set up in a field near our rented house. They drove larger cars – some quite nice – and towed caravans. Every summer the neighborhood theft rate would go up sharply but I can’t only blame this on the gypsies as the highs chool kids were also out of school. Same thing happens here in my American small town to a certain extent. Unemployed youth… The gypsies that camped near us might have been doing seasonal work. Who knows.

    We constantly wrote mil.police reports on thefts in Napoli. Very, very rarely did we write any assault reports. I felt safer in Napoli than I’ve felt in Atlanta, NYC, Philly, and parts of Nashville for example.

    We wrote reports on guys who put branded speakers on the package shelf in the their car’s back window only to get them stolen. The brand logo would light up at night and shout “STEAL ME”. Folks had their apartments broken into whule they were at work. They were sometimes easy to find b/c they’d have an American brand car parked right outside their Italian residence or they disposed of their new TV/Stereo/computer boxes right outside their gate at the dumpster. They kept a fixed schedule (not easy to alter for some jobs). We were robbed too – I lost $150 worth of gadgets and my roommate lost $2K worth of stereo and TV plus other misc. I didn’t have anything to steal.

    I wouldn’t hesitate to go back to Naples. It was messy and chaotic but also a wonderful place to explore. the people there that I knew best were very generous and warm.

    Sorry for the length of this comment – it’s just not an easy thing for me to sum up in a few sentences.

    Reply
    • Wow Joe, what a fascinating read! Thanks so much for taking the time to share your experience. And I agree, there are definitely many other places around the world that feel less safe than Naples. And now I want to go back! Thanks again for posting this comment. Amazing.

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  18. Naples its an Italian city but completely different, you can find a lot of things on it on The web but The thruth will know it just The People Who lives there everyday. You can be safety and get an amazing experience just if you find The right people…It’s more than Pizza and spaghetti but like in all The world if you are in The bad moment and in a bad place everything could happen but remember that between The most dangerous city in Italy Naples It’s just 36th on The list! First of all Milan so i leave ti you The chance to think about it;)

    Reply
    • Guido – that’s interesting about the list of most dangerous cities in Italy – don’t suppose you have a link? And I completely agree with you – it’s usually the wrong place, wrong time that causes the problems.

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  19. Sorry, but to simply dismiss the statements and opinions of those of us who have had negative experiences in Naples is not fair and a bit shortsighted. My wife and I took a day trip from Rome to Naples a few years ago and I have to say that it was an absolutely horrible experience. From the moment we arrived at the central station we knew we had made a mistake in choosing to go there; the staggering amount of garbage and graffiti, the endless requests for handouts…just everything about the place screamed “danger”. The Archaeology Museum was the only saving grace…it was spectacular. I suppose that some folks enjoy the gritty, tattered feel of a place like Naples. I am simply not one of these folks. I have traveled extensively, from London to Mexico City, Quebec to Prague, Paris and Rome; Naples will always be etched on my brain as the very least of these.

    Reply
    • David,

      I don’t believe I dismissed the negative experiences of others out of hand, I simply challenged them to explain to me the real as opposed to imagined dangers they felt when they were in Naples. And without wanting to offend, I’d like to challenge you on the same. It’s very common for people to confuse dirt, poverty, a high prevalence of struggling immigrants and graffiti with danger but one does not necessarily equate to the other. Sure, I understand that it might make people feel uncomfortable and cautious but a sense of safety is a very personal and often internally exaggerated matter. My point is that many people dismiss an entire place – like Naples – as dangerous when the sense of dangers is born from their own perception rather than based on anything real e.g. robbery, assault, etc. As I say, I’m not trying to be offensive, just trying to uncouple fact from opinions. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on this.

      Reply
    • That’s a disappointing comment David: apparently garbage, graffiti and desperate people asking for money made it an ‘absolutely horrible experience’? For someone who self-identifies as ‘extensively travelled’ you seem to have a startling lack of worldliness. Jo writes about the security risk that tarnishes the city’s reputation being overstated by many, and you’ve only served to confirm it. Look beyond the superficial next time and don’t dismiss a city based on preconceived ideas that fit a narrative of what you expect it to be: ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’, as it were.

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  20. Hi Jo

    Thank you very much for this article!
    I’m from Napoli, now living in UK – Bristol

    You might already know about the great history of Naples but unfortunatelly, after Italy was created from nothing, the northern rules decided South will never thrive againand this still continues today. The continous disciminatory campaign against my city and the complet lack of investment in infrastructure (I’m sure you find services not adequate to the beautiful places the city is capable to offer) is only a strategical approach to quit any kind of possibility to prosper with turism.
    We are treated as a colony, nothing more than that.

    Reply
    • Francesco, I’m sad you feel that way about Naples versus the rest of Italy. I was aware of the country’s history and have just spend some time in the south travelling through Puglia but I’m not well enough in the know to comment on how the situation is currently. I hope Naples is able to improve things on the tourism front because I loved your city.

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  21. Sorry, but I think this ‘muri puliti popoli muti’ thing is rubbish. Also southern Italy having been invaded so many times, and people now only being able to communicate by smearing graffiti on walls is just a lame excuse.

    Other regions of Europe (and Italy) have been invaded all the time as well, and yet they are clean and successfull. The country of Italy exists since 1861 and Naples is right in the middle of it. Naples is no more disadvantaged than Milano or Torino. It should be a thriving city.

    As long as people/politicians don’t understand that cleanliness, security and reliabilty are economical assets which will attract investments and hence a better quality of life, nothing will ever change for the better.

    I have close to zero tolerance for littering, nonsense ugly graffitis and petty crime and the people who let it happen or shrug it off. And no, I’m not a conservative or a braindead republican. Actually I’m a progressive, pro equal rights, against racism and rather leftist person. But I believe in respect and positive attitude. And in green energy. All of the formentionned derive from negative attitude and lack of respect.

    Yes, I would (and probably will) visit Naples. Because I also believe that “normal” people get along in almost any city. However, any city which does not care about itself is like a person that has lost its self-esteem. You don’t want to hang around with those people, they depress you and you feel sorry for them. And they attract the weirdest people… Same with cities.

    Reply
    • Louis, I like your comments and thoughts on the topic. While I’m a fan of street art, I completely agree that senseless graffiti is disrespectful. As for littering, it was ingrained in me since childhood what a horrible act this is but even more fundamentally, I don’t want to walk through streets filled with litter…and I can’t understand who would. In fact, I spend a fair bit of my time picking up other people’s litter (and tutting and shaking my head in a very British way). Hope you do get to Naples to see the city for itself. Beyond the grime, it truly is a diamond (in the rough).

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  22. We just got back from a weekend there. The things on the dodgy side I would say are the gypsies on the train to Pompeii, a mum, son and daughter crowded around us, I know my wallet was sticking out like a sore thumb. I live in Prague so am always aware of gypsies on public transport, so we just moved away.

    Secondly as we were looking out of the coffee shop window in the bottom floor of the main train station some African guy smacked an Asian guy in the back of the head for no apparent reason. There could have been something that happened before they arrived in our view, so I cannot say for sure but the Asian guy was with his girlfriend and had a suitcase, so I would say he was a tourist. The funny thing the Asian guy was quite stocky and manned up square to the aggressor and you could see that he was a coward and he ran away.

    That said we had no thieving, nothing nasty happened and had a great time. The streets are like a mixture of Turkey, North Africa and Italy, with all the cubby holes sometimes I even felt like being back in India. definitely worth a visit.

    We took the slow train there from rome for 10 euros and the mega fast 300km train on the way back for 43 euro.

    Reply
    • Max, not a great experience on the train. I experienced a lot of begging and potential scam artists throughout many of the main train stations in Italy last summer including Rome and Florence so it makes sense that the same would be prevalent, if not more likely on the tourist route to Pompeii. I didn’t experience it personally but then the train was so full it was barely possible to move! Glad the rest of the trip was good (the fighting guys sounds strange but glad that the aggressor ran off in fear in the end). Yes, I’d never made the Turkey, North Africa connection with the streets in Naples bit I can see it now you mention it 🙂 And as for the train, isn’t it fun experiencing the extremes of speed and price? I did the same with my trip to Rome! But overall glad you had a great trip!

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  23. Just back from a week in Ostuni, followed by a week in Naples; two sides of Italy for sure. The first week was just me and my wife and then we drove to Naples to be joined by our 19 and 22-year old daughters for the week in the city.

    We stayed in a beautiful, private rental apartment in Piazza San Domenico Maggiore, in the very heart of historic, old town Naples. A great location for exploring all the most interesting parts of this amazing city but not for the faint-hearted; it’s very lively, very, very noisy but it is the real deal.

    So, as a 50-year old dad with his young daughters, how did I feel about their security, as well as my wife’s and my own? To be honest, not much different to how I felt in most of the places I have visited, including: Mexico DF, Ulaanbaatar, Sao Paolo, Hong Kong, Yerevan, Ho Chi Minh City, New York, Las Vegas, Almaty, Tashkent, Beirut, Rome, Milan, London, Bucharest, Liverpool, Glasgow etc. (not trying to show off, I’ve been lucky with my job; just demonstrating that I am speaking from experience). As others have already stated, just be sensible, positive, confident and a little streetwise and you won’t go far wrong.

    It’s a city you will never forget and I know we would definitely return, as a year would probably not allow enough time to experience everything it has to offer.

    BUT….

    It is a disgrace that the city fathers have allowed this international heritage site to be so disfigured by litter and graffiti and shame on those Italians who have been party to this mass act of wilfull vandalism. Most walls are daubed with pathetic tags and pointless slogans (ACAB), even including memorials to those who died in combat.

    The steps of the church beneath our balcony were a favoured meeting point for a small group of what we guessed were homeless alcoholics, who would sit there most of the day drinking cheap booze. But on more than one occasion I saw one or more of them trekking across the square to deposit their empty bottles into the recycling bins and clearing up their litter. Only to witness minutes later a group of young, well-dressed local youths crossing the square and tossing their cigarette packets, empty cans and bottles into flower beds or anywhere else that was not a bin. This of course is not unique to Naples or even Italy. As anyone who has ever traveled can testify, many other countries’ citizens passionately declare a love of their country whilst happily chucking their crap wherever’s easiest. But in Naples I picked up the strong feeling that, as the authorities had allowed it to be defaced to such an extent, how could young people be expected to show the ancient city much respect.

    So, don’t listen to the scare stories, get on the plane and visit – you won’t regret it. But it may make you angry/depressed.

    Reply
    • David, thanks for the comment. It’s always good to hear a view from someone who has travelled so widely but also had his own as well as other people’s safety in mind (your wife and daughter). I’ve been to a number of the cities you mention and was, in fact, born in Liverpool, and couldn’t agree more than street smarts should keep you safe most of the time. And yes, the litter and graffiti is a disgrace. One of the other commenters who is from Italy claims it is part of the culture, but surely there is a better way (and place) to express your political opinions than defacing what would otherwise be a thoroughly stunning city. The same issue bothered me in Andalucia, where the problem was dog crap instead of graffiti and in India where the entire floor is treated like a bin. Sigh. Maybe one day the people in charge will see it as their elected responsibility to keep their cities and countries clean.

      Reply
  24. A must for your next trip to Naples: book cultural tours and art experiences with Musement! You’ll get interesting insider knowledge and skip the line for many museums and attractions, saving more time to explore the city

    Reply
    • Thanks for the suggestion, Musement. I’ll check out your tours next time I’m in Naples. I see you have a piece on your blog about saving money with City Cards. I’ve written an extensive comparison about the Firenze Card – do feel free to add a link to it on your post if you think your readers would find it helpful:

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  25. Hi Jo!

    Great article, great blog…as for Naples. I love it and I hate it. I lived in Naples from 1978-1980 then again from 1985-1988 in the Navy. Then I lived there again from 1988-1995 as a civilian worker. I learned Neapolitan and Italian. I married there. I left.

    My last trip was in 2003 from London.

    Something I read from an English writer was quoted as Naples being “a dung hill studded with Diamonds”.

    The good things:
    Naples has so much to see: walk on a Roman road (a block) beneath the church of San Lorenzo. See Naples underground. Visit Virgil’s tomb a short walk from the metropolitan stop at Mergellina, there’s a great photo of the bay from there. Visit the Palazzo Reale (Royal palace) at Piazza Plebiscito. Castel’Sant’ Elmo on top of the hill. Parts of the Greek ruins of Paleopolis and Neopolis exposed in several areas. The San Severo chapel “Cappello San Severo” with the Fisherman and Veiled Christ statues…
    The story of the 1799 revolution and the tragedy that followed. The heroic Neapolitans of the Fortress of Vigliena – a national monument in ruins. The National Museum…and so much more…

    And the food in Naples – Pizzeria Brandi which invented the Pizza Margheritta’. La Scimietta for Neapolitan ice cream off of Via Roma (now via Toledo). A fantastic pizza place in an alley off the Metropolitana stop of Montesanto. Café at Gambrinus near Piazza Plebiscito. My all time café espresso favorite is around the corner near the byzantine tower. Al Frustino d”oro restaurant behind the Hippodrome. Sitting at Piazza Bellini.

    The not so good:
    And then there is the other side of Naples, the micro – criminality of the small gangs that pick-pocket. Those unfortunate to be injured in a “Scippo” when those on a motorbike grabs a woman’s purse or a mans watch in broad daylight.(On 27 May 2011, a Puerto Rican man died after having his watch pulled from his arm; on April 14th 2014, a man was injured in a similar attack in front of his wife being hospitalized)

    The prostitutes along the via Domiziana burning tires. Then there are also the gypsies that wander the train station and bus station. All criminal involvement.

    There are bombings at businesses in areas that many Americans don’t go, announcements to who must pay to keep their businesses open. There are shootings that occur between the Camorra criminal kings (Read Gomorra by Roberto Saviano). I saw the bloodshed of the Saint Valentines Day massacre in Afragola outside Naples at the Barber shop. There are Camorra clan shootings monthly in the periphery towns as well as downtown (several in April 2014 and again in May).

    I too saw the aftermath of the bombing of the Naples USO (United Serviceman’s Organization) at 8:05 PM on Calata San Marco on 14 April 1988, if you look up – the bomb shrapnel still marks the 4th, 5th, and sixth floors…it killed 5 and wounded 17 (one who I knew).

    The Military police used to say in the welcome aboard briefing “one out of every five of you will file a police report the first year you are here”. The window smashed in on moving cars to be able to snatch the purse or suitcase or briefcase. Houses burglarized. And car accidents.

    Its not horrible, but be careful. Wear loose clothing, don’t take the Rolex. Don’t carry a purse. Put money of different amounts in different pockets. Use your camera wisely and keep it put away. Keep your wits about you and look.

    Reply
    • Bob, what a life experience you’ve had and fascinating relationship with Naples. Yes, there is crime but there is abundant beauty to and the trick, which I think most tourists can achieve with a good degree of caution, is to sample all of the good and none of the bad!

      Reply
  26. Hi Jo,

    Great blog.

    I’ve done a lot of travelling around the world over the past few years, but have largely ignored Europe for no obvious reason. I’m heading to Florence this September for a friend’s wedding, and thought it was a perfect opportunity to explore Italy. I was planning on heading to Rome and then further south afterwards and, like yourself, had heard a few scare stories about Naples.

    Rest assured it is now on my list after reading this.

    Looking forward to exploring the rest of your site.

    Reply
    • Hi Mike, that’s great news – happy to have inspired your trip to Naples – have some amazing pizza for me! Florence to Rome and then Naples is a fantastic route – one I took last summer. I’d highly recommend a slight side trip to Frascati (famous for the wine but also excellent gelato and cheese). I did this short trip from Rome – popped in for lunch before heading on to Naples. Have a great time!

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  27. I really enjoyed reading this, thank you! My husband and I recently dropped everything and moved all of our belongings into a tiny storage unit in Southern California and bought one-way tickets to Europe. We’ve only been over here since March 26, but it feels like months. We have done so much in such a short amount of time, I feel like we are actually living, as opposed to sitting in an office watching the months go by doing the same thing day in and day out. It’s so freeing! Anyways, we are looking for a month-long accommodation on Airbnb in Italy. There is one option in Naples, which is what led me to search online for safety, since like many others, I have heard that it’s unsafe. But it looks beautiful, and the pizza delicious. Just one question, have you spent much time in Pitigliano? There is also an apartment option there. We don’t have a car, so I worry about getting to the smaller towns and things like that. Any advice would be appreciated!! Thank you!

    Reply
    • Thanks, Lily. What an amazing adventure you’re on. There is nothing in life like finding that freedom and no longer wishing away your weekdays all for the weekend. An apartment stay is an excellent idea – I recently did something similar in Berlin and it really enhanced my experience..as well as letting me pretend I was local for a short while 🙂 I’m afraid I’ve not been to Pitigliano – is there any way you can visit before you decide whether to take a month-long rental? If you’re looking to find out about bus and train schedules, I love this site – it’s fast and comprehensive and provides costs. As a whole, Italy is pretty well connected by bus and train, even down to the smaller towns. However, the more remote places are likely to have a more sporadic timetable so there may only be a few buses per day, which won’t be great for exploring. However, if you’re looking to simply get there and stay put for a while, it may not be so tricky? I stayed in a rural village in France for 3 months without a car and I learned to eat local, shop just from the market and it was an amazing experience. Otherwise, I couldn’t recommend Naples enough – have an amazing time and please pop back and let me know how you get on!

      Reply
      • Thank you so much! I’ve been using rome2rio.com, it’s so great! I found out that there are some buses to and from Pitigliano, but it’s not the best as terms as accessibility goes. I’m more than okay with spending my days staying in the village and going to the market and getting to know the area, but my husband would like to be closer to a bigger town. I think I found a great rental in Turin, and have heard good things about it. The apartment is centrally located (good for my husband), but also close to a big park (good for me!). Thanks again for the advice! If you’ve been to Turin or have some recommendations, I would love to hear them!

        Reply
        • Hi Lily, rome2rio.com is great and also a lot of fun. I can lose hours just tapping in random locations and figuring how to get between the two! Turin sounds like a great option. I’ve not visited myself yet so actually I’ll be coming to you for tips 🙂 Hope you have an amazing stay and do come back and let me know how you get on.

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  28. I wanted to share my positive opinion of Naples! I went last weekend, and was nervous about going alone as a solo female traveller, even though as an Aussie in London – 12 years and counting – I’ve travelled to some dicey places (such as Sierra Leone!). It was the negative online reviews about Naples that had me worried. If only I had found your post in advance of the trip, to set my mind at rest 🙂

    Naples is wonderful, and very safe for tourists. I had no hassle from men as I’ve had in other European (and Italian!) cities. I confidently pulled out my map and looked lost all day long, and no one bothered me. I strapped my big DSLR camera to my wrist and snapped away everywhere, and no-one bothered me. There’s little point in trying not to look like a tourist when you’re a tall, naturally blonde female. Prices are so cheap for food and wine compared to elsewhere in Europe. Everyone is lovely. I stayed in a local AirBnB house with a lovely Napoli couple, right next door to the Duomo. Picture perfect.

    I’ll be honest – I was pick-pocketed within an hour of arriving and almost cried. Thankfully they didn’t get away with anything: I felt my entire backpack being zipped open and quickly whipped it to safety under my arm. It was my own fault. I was wearing a backpack and carrying a suitcase and camera bag onto the metro, with a huge crush of people around me. I should have simply taken a taxi from the airport to ditch the luggage, and I most definitely shouldn’t have worn a backpack.

    I also got to experience a legendary taxi ride, sideswiping another car down a narrow lane. It was exhilarating!

    My main tip is to hang out at night in Chiaia if you want a more local experience (cleaner and quieter) away from other tourists.

    Naples is chaotic and colourful and unique and full of character. Everyone deserves to experience it.

    Reply
    • Michelle, thanks for taking the time to post your own experience here and reinforce my point about the beauty and (relative) safety of Naples. Completely sucks you got pick-pocketted but I find it positive that you realise you could have done things differently – the only times something bad has happened to me (so far – touch wood for superstition), had been when I’ve been at fault and done something less than sensible. On a brighter note, I completely agree about the food and wine being way cheaper and thanks for the tip about Chiaia – I’ll check that area out next time I’m in Naples – and I will be going back!

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  29. Thanks for this post. I’m in Naples right now (been here for three days, seven more to go) and although I’ve felt quite safe during my stay, I stupidly decided to google “Naples safety” just today (in my defense, was trying to figure out if the flea market “Shoe Alley” was in a decent enough area). Despite my own judgement gleaned from three days of walking the city nonstop, what I read on google nearly convinced me to never leave the apartment again! Goodness – they would have you believe that the city is a cesspool of crime and pollution.

    That said, I think something worth mentioning is the importance of looking like you belong. I can pick out tourists half a block away — they’re wearing seasonally inappropriate clothing (natives are wearing winter coats and scarves in early April, tourists are wearing shorts and t-shirts), backpacks and weird waist pouches, and questionable footwear (everyone is wearing boots or sneakers, they’re in flip-flops). They’re dangling cameras from their necks/wrists and have maps sticking out of their pockets.

    Despite being blonde, blue-eyed, and fair-skinned I’ve had a number of people speak to me in Italian … why? I wear sunglasses (gotta hide those eyes), a jacket and scarf, and sensible shoes. I carry a normal bag under my arm. If I want to take a picture, I take my camera out of my purse then put it back inside immediately afterward. Of course, as soon as I open my mouth, my cover is blown. So, if anyone tries to talk to me on the street, I pretend I don’t hear and just keep walking.

    [….. or, maybe the thieves can tell that I beat up a guy who tried to rob me in Chile (true story) and that’s why they decide not to mess with me.]

    Hope I don’t jinx my karma by posting this, here’s to common sense and safety for all in Napoli!

    Reply
    • Jennifer, glad you’re enjoying Naples and managing to blend. It’s a VERY good point and one I completely agree with. I saw similar “stand-out” tourists in Spain recently – wearing their flip-flops, weather regardless. At least in Spain there was limited risk they were marking themselves out for robbery. Also pleased to be able to provide one post amidst a sea of negativity. There is so much beauty in Naples and the crime is very isolated from what I gather. I’ll keep my fingers crossed with karma for you – I always feel a bit weary about tempting fate too, so I completely understand! Hope you enjoy the rest of your trip. Have a lemon granita for me!

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  30. Dear Indiana,

    I came across your blog while i was searching around for safety informations about traveling to Naples, Italy. First off, thank you for writing such a beautiful piece! I’ve got so inspired after reading. I’m a 28 years old girl from Switzerland who has done quite a few solo trips to Milan, Rome, Florence, Paris,Amsterdam… I love traveling by my own, having the freedome to do things i want. However, i have always seemed to feel lonely whenever it comes to night time or dining alone in restaurants. Would you please give me some tips to cope with this problem?

    I’m planning to attend to a 2 week Italian course in Naples this September. The reason why i chose Naples among other big cities like Rome or Florence, Milan is i have never been to Southern Italy. And because someone told me ” you must go down South to see the real Italy!” The safety reason is not my biggest concern as i’m Vietnamese who emigrated to Switzerland at the age of 15. I travel back to Saigon, Vietnam once a year ever since my parents resided back there.You mentioned previously in this post that you have traveled months in Asia so i bet you surely know what is safety there in the south east country like Vietnam 🙂 i’d be really appreciated if you could give me some more advises about daily local life in Naples, meeting people, making friends etc… ah, someone tried to scare me away by saying” the men in Naples won’t leave you alone as you’re a petie good looking girl and men over there they just love women” To be honest, i don’t really bother about this thing and i’ve experienced it in Rome. They’re just harmless after all. But of course i’d love to hear from you. 🙂

    Look forward to hearing from you.
    Best and warm regards from Switzerland.
    Annie

    Reply
    • Hi Annie, thanks for getting in contact. Glad you enjoyed my article. Can I ask about the kind of accommodation you’ve stayed in when you visited Italy in the past? As you know, I too solo travel, and most of the time I book into hostels. Of course, there is a cost benefit, but most of all it is the single best way I’ve found to meet people while I’m travelling. Even in a smaller place with only a small number of guests, you’ve instantly got at least a dozen potential people to hang out with. I was in a three-bedroom dorm in Naples and made great friends with my room mates – one was an artist and the other an opera singer and we hung out my entire stay. I know that dorms aren’t for everyone, but most hostels also have private rooms so you can have the benefit of the common room/kitchen where you can meet people while having your own space when you sleep. Other than meeting people at hostels, couch surfing is another option or using an apartment rental company and renting a room. In both cases, try to find a host that is willing to show you around. Another option is to pick a place (cafe or restaurant) listed in any of the backpacker guide books like Lonely Planet – those places are often over-run with other travellers and finally, taking a tour is a good way to meet people – many cities do walking tours and you might meet some other solo visitors there. Hope that has given you some extra ideas? As for eating alone, I have become very good at solo dining. I admit it took years to become brave enough to wander into any restaurant I wanted, find a seat and not feel awkward. I tend to take a book or journal and occupy myself that way while I’m waiting for my food. I do similar in bars if I’m in the mood for a drink – a book is a pretty good way to indicate to unwanted male company that you’re not interested! Hope that helps! Let me know if you’ve got any more questions and have a great trip!

      Reply
  31. Hi Jo!
    Thanks for your post about my beloved city!
    First thing, I’d like to give my suggestion to Brian too, regarding the best pizza:
    -antica pizzeria da michele, Via Cesare Sersale, 1-3, be prepared for a long queue, you go there, give your name, wait in the street with others and you will be called. Inside is the best way to experience the old real pizzeria. Common tables, no menù, only 2 pizzas that you can choose, either margherita or marinara (no mozzarella, with garlic). Those are the real pizza! any other extra ingredient spoil the pleasure and the taste of the Napoli’s pizza.
    -pizzeria i decumani, Via dei Tribunali 58, open on sunday at luch too. Very good pizza (always talking about margherita), with a small tasty mozzarella di bufala served on the top that makes a difference
    -pizzeria di napoli, Via Marc’Antonio, 31, outside the city centre, nearby fuorigrotta and the football stadium, reachable by metropolitana train.

    Now…regarding the safety, when you asked me ‘is Napoli safe?’ I replied ‘No’ and I’m still sure about it.
    Napoli is not safe for locals too, it’s a jungle, not only petty crime goes on, everyday.
    People and travellers should be awared of it.
    However, by using common sense, avoiding wearing and carrying valuable things, avoiding people offering you ‘great deals’ (especially around the railway station, anyway with the dark it’s really an off limit area!), being careful with your wallet and bags…it’s ok.
    For the 40 years I’ve been living and now visiting my city, it never happened anything to me, however this doesn’t mean it’s a golden rule.
    The beauty of the city will pay back the concentration you have to pay for staying safe, the views and panorama you can admire from the top spots are the most beautiful and incredible for an european city, people are warm and always willing to help, talkative and rich with genuine kindness and hospitality (in the past they would have invited tourists at home for a coffee!).
    Napoli is an extreme city, closer to south america than to europe, you can either find one of the kindest person or the worst criminal (camorra, local mafia, exists for real).
    I was told by many friends visiting south america the same stories, people are so nice that you will forget about hypotetical bad experiences.

    One thing about litterieng and graffiti.
    Littering, no excuse, the city is dirty and messy, it’s also this part of our ‘culture’
    Graffiti, many are simple vandalism but there is a deep reason for that.
    In italy we say ‘muri puliti popoli muti’ something like ‘clean walls dumb people’.
    Italy (and especially south, has been colonized and invided so many times, under other countries rule, local people have a chance to express something only by writing on walls (as official media are controlled by power).
    Think about murales in northern ireland.
    The graffiti you will see in Napoli are, most probably, the first attempt of freedom for a teenager that very often will spend his life ‘working’ for a camorra clan, at the same time its also a challange, to break a rule and show how brave he is, in a city (again) where you have to be strong to survive (and it’s not an euphemism…).

    Ok, I’ve just realized that I wrote too much and in a confusing way, after 40 years I’m still struggling to understand my city, I’m always in between ‘hate and love’ feelings.
    That makes Napoli unique!

    Reply
    • Hey, thanks for leaving such a detailed response…especially one that includes some good pizza recommendations – I’m writing those down for my next visit. We talked about the danger of Naples when we met in Spain. I agree that there are risks and perhaps they are greater compared to other parts of Europe due to the organised crime, but on the whole, good street smarts should see you through. Yes, the train station isn’t a pretty area and I was glad to get past it, but Termini in Rome also feels pretty sketchy and I’d try to avoid both after dark. Litter bothers me. I’ve visited many countries in Latin America where the poverty levels are high and yet the people maintain a great level of respect for wha crumbling and broken buildings, pavements and park spaces they have. I agree that is a cultural thing and agree there is no excuse – Spain is not much different in parts. The amount of dog “debris” littering the streets is staggering and disgusting. As for the graffiti, I think there is a line between pure vandalism and scrawling “Indiana Jo Woz Ere” and political statements. The former is usually at the hands of teenagers and to some extent is a form of expression (but looks ugly), the rest I actually completely understand and would suggest the ties with Latin America are found in this respect also. You didn’t write too much at all. Naples is one of Europe’s more complex and interesting cities. If nothing else, it deserves debate!

      Reply
  32. Hi Jo,

    This is a question rather than a comment. I’m thinking of going to Naples (on my own) around Easter time. I’m a keen street photographer and want capture the real life in the back streets. What would be the best areas to hang out and can you recommend some good pizza places?

    thanks
    Brian

    Reply
    • Hi Brian, the walk from the port towards the train station will take you past many fascinating streets you can take a detour around, taking that bit extra care with your camera around the station. There seems to be laundry hanging off every balcony and life everywhere in Naples so you don’t have to look far, just find a main streets and turn left or right. I got lost a lot, which made it all the more interesting. My friend, a food journalist from Italy sent me these three recommendations for pizza and I ate at the second one (amazing): La Notizia (via caravaggio 53), Sorbillo (via dei tribunali, 32) and Da Attilio alla Pignasecca (via pignasecca 17). Just check the opening days and times. I tried one of them on a Sunday and it was closed. Hope that helps. Have an amazing trip and if you want, I’d love for you to share some of your pics with me on Google+

      Reply
  33. Dear Jo,
    I am from Naples. Thank you for your wonderful article!
    I write for a local newspaper. Can I use some bits of your story?
    Thank you very much in advance.
    Vince

    Reply
    • Hi Vince, I’m glad you liked my article and I’m flattered – please feel free to use what you need from my story. I just ask that you give me credit with a reference to my blog. I’d love to see a copy of your final article when it’s finished. Let me know if you need anything else.

      Reply
      • Dear Jo,
        thank you very much for your answer!
        I will write an online article about your experience in Naples. Our newspaper is both printed and online, and I use to write online. Now we are rearranging its graphics but it’s going to be ready in a few days.
        I will tell about your wonderful visit against prejudices raised by people. The only issue is that it’ll be in Italian 🙂 But I can make a summary if you want!
        Sure, I will write a reference to your blog.

        Reply
  34. Hi Jo,

    I’ve just returned from a 5-week RTW solo adventure inspired by great blogs like yours. Italy was probably my favourite destination and I spent time in Rome, Florence and Naples. I agree with you that getting unsolicited advice from people who have never been out of their home town is unproductive, bizzare and inevitably negative. I went to New York last year, solo, had the time of my life but was ribbed mercilessly beforehand by multiple people telling me how I would be shot, robbed, stabbed and mugged on every corner. When in reality I had an amazing adventure, and talked to friendly, helpful people all the way – while of course remaining alert and aware of my surroundings.

    Similarly in Italy and particularly Naples. Yes, I got a shock walking outside the train station where I was hit up by no less than five gypsies, homeless and lighter/trinket sellers. Then through the gauntlet of dodgy IPad sellers. I noticed the litter and graffitti in some sections. However, what I will remember, is the incredible mix of old city and new city, the amazing National Archaeological Museum of Naples and the food and service I received at every restaurant I visited How can you complain when you get pizza, beer, chocolate covered profiteroles and coffee for less than 15EURO! My accomodation was clean, safe and central, with a terrific balcony which gave me a view across the city. After a day of getting my bearring, I found some really nice areas in Naples and could have stayed longer and explored even more!

    Ahh itchy feet just thinking about it and it’s only my second week back home (Australia).

    My advice, be alert, aware and outwardly confident. Life is an adventure and needs to be experienced. The naysayers can sit back and miss out – I’ll see the world and love every minute of it.

    Cheers,

    Kyne

    Reply
    • “The naysayers can sit back and miss out” – love it! What a great sentiment and you’re absolutely right. I get beyond frustrated at the non-travellers who try to put the rest of us off from doing the things that THEY fear. Glad you had a great experience in New York, I adore that city and have visited 5 times and will continue to return whenever I get a chance. I genuinely believe that if most people’s entry point into Naples was somewhere other than the station, the city wouldn’t have such a bad reputation. I saw a guy selling an iPad and it still had the previous owners family photos on it – seriously! I think you Aussies are a bit like us Brits – can’t keep us tied to the same spot for too long 🙂 Where next?!

      Reply
      • Hi Jo, thanks for the reply 🙂

        Why are people so scared? Even now, on return ‘friends’ are telling me how lucky I was not to get stabbed, robbed, scammed – ‘I’m like – no dude – it was fine, I was fine…great people, great food, amazing history, beautiful countries…can’t wait to go aagain’. They almost want me to have a disaster story and look crestfallen when I tell them nothing major went wrong. As you and I have both mentioned – just be aware, alert and confident – I also think when you are solo, you are forced to do this more and it makes for an incredible adventure because you discover more and meet great people and do cool things.

        As for the people back home, it’s like we are so conditioned to do the same thing, day in day out – that stepping out from that is foreign and scary…But that’s what I love and I’m sure you are the same.

        Next trip? Well I’m planning to move to London to be closer to the action. The travel bug has well and truly got me!

        Cheers,

        Kyne

        Reply
        • Kyne, I know what you mean. Somebody asked me the other day whether a place I’d been was dangerous and the only response I would have was “It depends on your definition of dangerous”. To some, it’s fear of spiders, others robbery, me it’s staircases without sides (!) and death by boredom – now that is the biggest danger of all! Let me know when you’re in London, I can share some good tips with you. Happy travels.

          Reply
          • Death by boredom…yes I’m most scared of sitting at a computer in an office for 40 years, doing work that’s just OK and dealing with people who are barely OK 🙂 I’ll have to watch out for staircases without sides. I would appreciate any London advice!

            Thanks,

            Kyne

            Reply
            • Kyne, I was just reading an article about the biggest regrets people face on their death beds and two resonated 1) I wish I’d worked less and 2) I wish I’d travelled more. Not surprising to me these both sprung up. I hope to never have those regrets. Definitely get in contact when you land and I’ll send you some hints and tips beyond “See Big Ben!”.

              Reply
  35. I’m actually in Naples, Italy right now for the first time. I’d like to qualify the rest my comment with following statement: I’ve spent thousands of nights on the road in hotels, renting rooms, sleeping in cars, and even in the wild outdoors. I’ve been to very poor countries like Vietnam and Mexico and spent time in border towns in Mexico and major metropolitan cities all over the world (New York City, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., New Orleans, Bankok, Hanoi, Paris, Rome, Madrid, Barcelona).

    Naples is a BEAUTIFUL city but you do have to be careful here. There is a lot of litter and graffiti. The traffic is abominable and people will try to rip you off (as in most big cities). For example, our first taxi driver charged us double the fixed rate (we should have known better). After arriving, my wife and I immediately dressed down and stripped all jewelry (wedding rings, necklaces, watches). Pickpockets and petty theft are your biggest concerns here, not violence.

    This sweet old lady that is staying at our same hotel had her necklace snatched off her neck and robber jumped on the back of a moped and sped away. One night in town.

    Pros: There’s amazing history here, beautiful sites, great food.
    Cons: It’s dirty, littered, graffiti’d, traffic is like east Asia, there’s a lot of pickpockets and scams.

    Reply
    • Thanks for the comment, Kenji. It’s good to have an extra perspective. I didn’t really notice the litter, but perhaps that was because I’d spent the previous months in Asia 🙂 The pickpocketing is unfortunate but, as you say, no different than other cities. Barcelona is particularly rife for it but the Sagrada Familia and beach seem to keep the tourists pouring in. I did notice the graffiti. In fact, I got off at the wrong stop at Herculano because the sign was covered with so much spray paint. If only the culprits could be as talented as the graffiti artists in Latin America. Enjoy your trip through Naples!

      Reply
  36. Good article.
    I was worried about going through Naples to get to Capri. Other than a wild ride in a taxi, a local woman on the boat who warned us of pickpockets and a rat that ran before us on our way into the train station Naples is only dangerous if you don’t use common sense and certain areas to avoid like ANY city in this world.

    Murissa

    Reply
    • Completely agree, Murissa. It’s such a beautiful city with so many lovely locals, great food and amazing buildings that it’s sad people pass it by on the basis of a fear that seems to exist mainly in the minds of strangers or opinionated people who have never visited. Still, the plus side was that with fewer tourists, Naples had a much more natural feel compared to the more touristy alternatives of Rome and Tuscany – every cloud… 🙂

      Reply
  37. Actually, the guy concerned was a bit of a pratt. Later on, after the above episode, he when on a wine tasting and buying trip to the Beaujolais. In the hotel restaurant he was boasting about the great deals he had done on wine that day, how he had haggled with the producteurs. The following morning all the wine had disappeared from his car.

    Reply
    • 🙂 So he didn’t learn anything about not storing things in his car. That’s some good booty, a stash of Beaujolais. Think I’d take that over a stranger’s luggage!

      Reply
  38. When we lived in Switzerland, a friend and his wife drove to Naples for a short break. Now, every Italian knows that cars with Swiss registration plates have gold bullion in their trunks. Sure enough, all his luggage was stolen from the trunk of his car outside the hotel. That evening in the bar, he was lamenting his loss when he was approached by a guy who said that for a reasonable sum in Italian lire, information about his luggage might be available. He payed up, and the luggage turned up, undamaged and unopened in the hotel lobby. He was also given a sticker to put on the windshield of his car, the gist of which, in Italian, was “This guy has paid. Leave this car alone.”

    I will email you two more stories of our own brushes with the Mafia in Southern Italian towns.

    Reply
    • Can I say I love this story without sounding insensitive to the couple who were robbed? 🙂 Glad they got their stuff back even if it was for a price (hopefully less than their insurance excess) – they probably also learned a good lesson about not leaving their stuff in their car! Ooh, do send me the other stories but remember your freedom from self-incrimination ;p

      Reply

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