We only intended to spend 2 nights in Naples, tacked on the end of our walking trip: one day in nearby Pompeii and one for pottering round Naples itself. Then off to the airport and home. Of course, the volcanic gods had other ideas.
Pompeiitotally lived up to expectations: we wandered the crumbly streets for 7 hours straight with Vesuvius looking down at us. It struck me that the site of such suffering is now a poignant and yet very peaceful place.
I was really pleased I'd read Robert Harris's novel Pompeii last year, as it helped to bring the whole event to life for me (it's a fabulous book, I'd seriously recommend by the way).
Naples boasts the noisiest, craziest, most irritating traffic I've ever encountered. Many narrow streets have no pavements and the scooters that constantly zip between the randomly parked cars seem quite happy to run you down if you don't leap from their path. Annoying every 5 mins, but every 5 steps?!?
As an escape, we went on a nice day trip on the train, to a pretty, but quite touristy resort, Sorrento.
I sat on the harbour, drawing the fishermen above. When I showed it to them, one man explained that a local religious ceremony was just about to start and, sure enough, within 10 minutes, a procession led by nuns came from the church, carrying a painting of the Madonna along the harbour front.
The nun and the painting got into the boat above and left for Capri and, as soon as they had gone, fireworks were set off from the end of the jetty.
We booked 2 more nights in Naples and frantically tried to devise an overland route home. No chance. When we discovered our first available flight was another 5 days away, we could take no more. We booked the flight then booked a ferry and escaped Naples to wait it out elsewhere.
Our new home couldn't have been more different. Plus, at last I had time to draw in earnest. But more of that next time...