There is a strong police and military presence in Naples. In the stations, at the shops, by the tourist destinations. And there is a continual trickle of approaches made by beggars, vendors of cigarette lighters, and those that want to warmly befriend you (for I hate to think what).
It feels like seagulls at the beach wanting your picnic, brush them away and they move on.
This did impact me though in a few ways. Initially I was fearful after all the stories I had heard. I clutched my bag close and wore no jewellery. In fact I dressed in my most fierce get up, black jeans, black ski jacket. As the days went by I began to take ‘risks’ knowing it wasn’t great looking like a tourist studying a map. But what else could I do. I needed to see where I was.
Other risky behaviour I started to do was be out at night alone, (the evenings are the safest, best time with all the families out for their passeggiata), walking into less populated streets and worst of all, getting out my iPhone to take photos.
It was a tremendous relief one day to take a tourist ‘hop on hop off’ bus and be able to freely take lots of photos.
When not on that bus I never felt able to stop and sit down and look around. And just be. Always, I am fairly briskly moving.
By day 4 I felt exhausted. Exhausted of being weary and feeling at risk. I began to wonder what must it be like to be Neopolitan, do they feel weary? Do they get approached? Do they feel able to wear their jewellery on the metro? They seemed to break all the rules sitting using cellphones, wearing backpacks, and carrying handbags in their hands??
On my last day, I took one last walk into the central historical area and through the narrow alleys and into San Gregorio Christmas alley area. I decided to let go.
I took out my phone and I took photos. I relaxed and enjoyed browsing. I did keep moving but at a leisurely pace. What a lovely morning I had. Naples is an amazing city.
I would say to anyone coming here, be cautious, carry little, just some lunch and drinks money. Leave things you value in the hotel safe. Learn to use the metro here, the stations are artworks. And then enjoy.