Naples, Italy



chaos explore good/better/best
series extreme far/further/furthest
plunge wander overwhelming
style scooter deep/deeper/deepest
dodge vibrant exquisite
crazy admire birthplace
traffic mosaics smoldering
taste slumber think twice
climb volcano amazing
lip connect fascination
ruins century commercial (2)
bay kingdom independent
thrive survive unification
jungle lament swallow up
join provide fascinating
wealth glamour large/larger/largest
fund rule (2) populated
status enforce expansion
urban comical off putting
lack commit merchant
dense decency observant
gritty humor impressive
knack eclectic collection (2)
tangle raise (2) con artist
corner mass (2) manage (2)
accent breathe spirit (2)
laugh wiggle provincial
squirt delivery eye-catching
fresh wander competition
scene surprise easy-going
suffer way (2) reputation
fun chronic unemployment
piazza captivate set an example
screen cautious law and order
jostle assume commotion
thief sidewalk smoke screen
beggar quarter clever/more clever/most clever
timid thrilling hide/hid/hidden
fellow stall (2) discretionary
curb jaywalk get across
local straight quick/quicker/quickest
site faithful archaeological
proud literally in the shadow of
saint heart (3) lead/led/lead
split symbol remarkable
echo tumble tour guide
intact consider pickpocket
lane field (3) announcement
scene chitchat argument
occur curbside medieval
wide temple dream (2)
crusty miracle in the form of
fold dedicate superstar
tiny star (3) trade (3)
chapel remain celebrate
bucket baroque stream (2)
tears raw (2) capture (2)
lavish routine worship
hero core (2) movement (2)
adore disease sainthood
cure preach fast-track
exvoti ailment private (2)
pray display possession
lung intense hang/hung/hung
sick destroy able-bodied
vivid slice (2) characteristic
raw balcony Neapolitan
yard look up forget/forgot/forgotten
steady traditional


Video (First 10 Minutes)




I’m rick Steves, back with more of the Best of Europe. This time, we’re exploring Naples. It’s a city that’s living in the streets today as it has for centuries. Bella napoli. It’s loveable chaos.

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Naples is Italy in the extreme. If you like Italy as far south as Rome, go further south. It just gets better. If Italy’s getting a little overwhelming by the time you get down to Rome, think twice about going further. Italy intensifies as you plunge deeper. And plunging deeper, that’s exactly what we’re doing this time as we explore Naples.

We’ll go shopping Neapolitan style, dodge scooters in Naples’ crazy traffic, explore the city’s vibrant neighborhoods, admire exquisite ancient mosaics, taste pizza in its birthplace.

Then we climb the lip of a slumbering volcano and wander the amazing ruins of the roman town it destroyed.

So many European travel dreams take you to Italy. The bay of Naples area, about three hours south of Rome, is filled with fun and fascination.

From Naples, we’ll climb smoldering mount Vesuvius and visit the ruins of Pompeii.

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Centuries before Christ, Naples was a thriving Greek commercial center called “Neapolis,” or “The New City.”

Over the ages, it became an important center ruled by a series of foreign overlords. In the 18th century, Naples finally became the capital of its own independent kingdom. Then, with the unification of Italy in 1861, Naples fell from being an important political capital to just another provincial town.

Neapolitans lament that after their city joined the newly united Italy, its riches were swallowed up by the new country. As the city’s wealth was used to fund the industrial expansion of the north, Naples eventually lost its status and glamour.

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Today, Italy’s third largest city feels in many places like an urban jungle. Its lack of open spaces or parks makes it Europe’s most densely populated city. Watching the police try to enforce traffic sanity is almost comical in this gritty city.

The vast Piazza Garibaldi, facing the train station, provides an off-putting welcome to those arriving by train.

But get beyond this and Naples surprises the observant traveler with its good humor and decency. Its people have an impressive knack for living, eating . . . And raising children in the streets.

Southern Italy’s leading city, Naples offers a fascinating collection of museums, churches, and eclectic architecture. This tangled mess, as intense an urban scene As anything you’ll find in western Europe, still somehow manages to breathe, laugh, and sing with a captivating Italian accent.

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Naples’ fish market wiggles and squirts from under one of the city’s surviving medieval gates. Each stall is eye-catching. Is the seafood fresh? Most of it’s still alive.

Wandering through this scene, enjoy the playful competition of the singing merchants. In so many ways, you’ll find southern Italy is a distinct culture from the north. People here are more fun-loving and easygoing.

Naples has long suffered from a bad reputation. Unemployment is chronically high, and past local governments set an example that the mafia would be proud of.

But lately, with mayors committed to safety and law and order, the city has more police and feels much safer. Still, just to be cautious, assume any jostle or commotion is actually a smoke screen created by a thief team up to no good. Con artists are more clever than you, and, also, assume able-bodied beggars are actually pickpockets.

Keep your money belt hidden.

Neapolitan traffic is thrilling. Red lights are considered discretionary. Pedestrians need to be wary, particularly of the motor scooters. Be careful, but be assertive. While many timid tourists get stalled on the curb, I get across quicker by jaywalking in the shadow of confident locals.

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Rather than seeing Naples as a long list of sites, see its great archaeological museum, which we’ll visit later, and then capture the spirit of the city by walking through its historic core.

Spaccanapoli, literally “split Naples,” is a perfectly straight street that dates from ancient Greek times. It leads to the colorful heart of the old city. Echoes of ancient Neapolis survive. The original Greek street plan is remarkably intact, and back then, like today, small businesses by day became private homes after hours, and life tumbled out of the homes and into the lanes.

Today this scene is just one more page in the 2,000-year-old story of Naples.

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And to understand that story, i’m joined by my Neapolitan friend, and fellow tour guide, Roberta Mazzarella.

You name it, it occurs right on the streets today As it has for centuries. Kids turn a wide spot in the sidewalk into a soccer field. Walls are crusty with posters and death announcements. Neighborly chitchat and heated arguments take place curbside. Blue buckets help busy moms connect with the delivery boy.

Everyone seems connected by cellphones. And fast food comes in the form of a folded pizza.

The tiny streetside Chapel of Maradona is dedicated to Diego Maradona, a soccer star who played for Naples back in the 1980s.

Roberta Mazzarella, Tour Guide: “We love soccer. In Italy, soccer’s like religion — in Napoli, especially. Look here. Look what we have — Maradona, our big superstar, the soccer hero. That’s his hair. And when we traded him, the city cried. That’s the tears — “la crime napoletane.”

Rick Steves, Traveler: “So this is the Temple of Maradona?”
Roberta Mazzarella, Tour Guide: “The Temple of Maradona.”

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Even though for many Italians soccer is like a religion, church soccer is like a religion, churches remain an important part of the community. Stepping into the lavishly baroque Gesu Nuovo Church, you’ll learn how, along with sports heroes, Neapolitans have their religious heroes, too.

This much-adored statue celebrates Giuseppe Moscati, a Christian doctor famous for helping the poor. A steady stream of the neighborhood faithful remember him and hope he remembers them, as a stop here is part of their daily worship routine.

Moscati was so loved by the local community that when he died in 1927, there was a movement to make him a saint. After it was shown that he had cured two people of deadly diseases, he was fast-tracked to sainthood in 1987.

The church where the saint preached has made a small museum covered with exvoti. These are given as thanks for prayers — in this case to Saint Moscati —that were answered. Each has a symbol of the ailment cured — heart disease, lung problems, a sick child, whatever.

A display shows the great doctor’s apartment — his possessions and photos. A bomb casing hangs in the corner. In 1943, it fell through the dome of Father Moscati’s church, but destroyed almost nothing — some say yet another miracle.

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The nearby Spanish Quarter is Naples at its rawest and most characteristic. Pause at any street corner to enjoy a vivid slice of Neapolitan life.

And don’t forget to look up. With no yards, families make full use of their tiny balconies.

Roberta Mazzarella, Tour Guide: “This is ‘basso living’”.
Rick Steves, Traveler: “Basso living. What does that mean?
Roberta Mazzarella, Tour Guide: “It can mean ‘low’”.
Rick Steves, Traveler: “So, literally, low?”
Roberta Mazzarella, Tour Guide: “This is like a small apartment — two, three bedrooms for five, six, seven, eight, nine people to a family.”
Rick Steves, Traveler: “The traditional, sort of romantic life in the streets.”
Roberta Mazzarella, Tour Guide: “Life in the streets, yeah. Many people might have money to go away from here, but they still stay here.”

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Naples. The whole of Italy is the same. Naples is similar to Milan and Florence. True or false?

Sicily, Sardinia. In ancient times, did the British settle in Naples? Has Naples always been a part of Italy?

Venice. The street traffic of Naples is very orderly and organized; everyone follows traffic rules. Is this right or wrong?

Rome. Are the buildings in Naples new and modern, or old, historical and classical?

Milan, Florence. Is it quiet in the markets (bazaars) of Naples? Are the most common items for sale in the market (bazaar) meat and dairy products?

Dubrovnik. Do most people mostly stay indoors or do they spend much of their time outdoors?

Athens. Who are some famous residents of Naples? Who do locals admire and respect?

Barcelona. Are the Neapolitans mostly Evangelical Christians?

Marseilles. The communities and neighborhoods of Naples is similar to American suburbs. Do you agree?
Antalya, Izmir. I am from Italy. I live in Italy. I have visited Naples. I have been to Italy. Yes or no?

Cyprus. Is Naples similar to your city or very different?

Beirut. I would like to live in Naples; or I would like to visit Naples.

Tunis. Does Naples feel like a “European” or “Western” city?

Casablanca. What might happen in the future?

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