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.

      Reply
  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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