Now, before I even start to tell you about my experience in Naples, I want to tell you the conversation I had while I was still in Rome, with a man at my hostel who was from this scary city:
Him: So where are you going after Rome?
Him: Ah! I'm from Naples!
Me: Great! Can you tell me how it's like?
Him: It's a nice city. But you're meeting friends there?
Me: No...I'm going alone.
Him: (disaproval face) Oh...that's not good. Naples alone is not very safe.
Me: Why? (starting to freakout)
Him: Well...no, it's ok! It will be entertaining! The only problem of Naples is the shooting! They shot all the time.
Me: (totally freaking out) WHAT? Like, with guns?
Him: Yes, yes! But you'll be ok. They don't shoot tourists, just themselves. They have Mafia code.
Me: OH MY GOD, I'M GOING TO DIE!
Him: Don't worry, you'll be back. But not with your bags. Maybe you should take a fake backpack.
ME: (TOTAL FREAK OUT)
This conversation got me searching for options to Naples. I sat in front of a computer for a very long time trying to find another place I could go instead. Seriously, I do not have a death wish, I don't want to go to a place where "they shoot themselves all the time" and where my backpacks will get stolen the second I get out of the train. My freakout session went on for a while there, but after realizing there was no other option and that I would just have take a leap of faith, I got used to the idea.
No...but I have to go...
After almost getting out at the wrong station, I got out of the train so scared all I wanted to do was cry. I held my bags so hard my hands got super red. I decided it was a good idea to make a badass face, and so I walked my way threw the station with a face screaming "Don't mess with me!". To get to the metro I had to leave the train station with beggers and streets sellers all over the place. Again, badass face (I think this kinda works, because I've watched people from Naples and they always walk with a very serious face).
Speak to no one, look to no one. Please don't cry!!
Almost there, just need to find the hostel now...nop, not this way. Oh God! Lost, I am lost in Naples and I am going to die, right after someone steals my backpacks. Need to check the map, so I need to get my phone. Brilliant idea! Get in the pharmacy! The guy just looked at me and said "Signorina?", me almost crying with 15kg of bags on me "I need help..." - I think I might have looked like a lost puppie because he smile at me, came out and got me in the right direction to find the hostel. I managed to get lost again (in just 30 meters) but I eventually found the hostel.
RELIEF! I'M ALIVE! AND MY BACKPACKS TOO!
I only spent a few hours exploring (or trying to) Naples itself, because of the three nights I got here, the first was the day of my arrival and it was raining so much I just stayed at the hostel; And then I took my time to go visit Pompei and Sorrento and by the time I wanted to explore the historic centre of Naples, it was Sunday afternoon, everything closed, almost no one on the streets, and I didn't have a map, so I didn't real feel ok by going further with my exploration and just stayed at main street (because I've heard I should follow my gut, and with a good camara in my hands, I felt it would be a bad idea to keep wandering around with fear of getting lost or ending up in some bad neighbourhood).
If you want to visit Naples, you have to come with an open mind. You cannot expect amazing monuments and constructions like in Rome, or pretty, clean streets. The beauty of Naples is in its people, not in the place itself. Yes, Naples is a very dirty city, and yes it has its problems, but besides my fear (which I had because of what other people kept telling me about Naples and how horrible it was), nothing happened, and nothing happened to anybody who was staying at my hostel either.
If you want to understand these people better, you should (you probably will) take the circumvesuviana train that goes to Pompeii and Sorrento, because you'll see the amount of poverty these people live in, it blew my mind. I was told to expect poverty, but I was not prepared to see that many slums and terrible living conditions for the entire 1h train ride.
Should you come to Naples? Sure, do! Naples has a lot to offer, and you have to see with your own eyes and forget about what other people say about this city. "Travelling is discovering everybody is wrong about other countries" right? Don't be a chicken! Or be a chicken but go to Naples anyway. I promise if you're carefull with your things and yourself -like you'd be any other place you travel to -, you'll be ok, because from the people I spoke to here, they were very nice to me, they helped when they saw me lost and they always had a smile on their faces when they did. If you're not comfortable walking around the historic centre, the surroundings are a must: Capri, Amalfi Coast, Pompeii, Mount Vesuvius. Just think twice, give Naples a chance. Maybe you'll hate it, maybe you'll love it, but at least you'll know from experience! I'm happy I didn't quit, and ended up going besides my fear, and I already have it on my list of places I'll have to come back to.