Well what a treat ! This week's Guest Blog is from the wonderful children's author Caroline Lawrence, most famous for her Roman Mysteries stories. This time Caroline is in Naples, researching her latest thrilling story - See Naples and Die....
See Naples and DON’T Die
by Roman Mysteries author Caroline Lawrence
I love Naples, Italy. Last month I went back for a week to check some facts in a book I am writing called See Naples and Die.
‘See Naples and Die’ is an expression first quoted in a book by Goethe, a wise man who lived about 150 years ago and who loved Italy. It means: Once you have seen Naples you can die happy, knowing you have seen something special.
But the hero my book, a 12-year-old British girl on holiday in Naples, could really die when she gets caught up in a plot to steal a priceless artefact from the nearby island of Ischia.
Here are ten things you should do if you want to See Naples and NOT Die.
- Mount Vesuvius looms over the town. If the wind had been in a different direction when the volcano erupted that first time way back in AD 79 it might have buried Naples rather than Pompeii. But don’t worry; the city’s patron saint, San Gennaro, has protected the people from Vesuvius for over 1500 years. Say a prayer to him at the Duomo.
- Until as recently as 1973, Naples suffered terrible cholera outbreaks caused by water with human waste (poo and pee) in it. Today, make sure you drink from public fountains with the sign BUONA DA BERE (Good to Drink). Or buy bottled water.
- For good luck, rub the bronze skulls on Via dei Tribunale or the statue of St Moscati in the Church of New Jesus, but make sure you clean your hands with a handiwipe after; dozens of people have touched them before you.
4. Don’t get run over by a Vespa or SmartCar on the narrow streets in the most ancient parts of the city. People drive fast even in the Area Pedonale (pedestrian zones).
5. Don’t believe the little green man at busy street crossings. Neapolitans think traffic lights are Christmas decorations! If you tell yourself that everyone in a car is a homicidal maniac out to get you and act accordingly, you’ll be fine.
6. Don’t get caught in the crossfire between rival clans of the Camorra. There are lots of monuments to innocent victims of the Neapolitan version of the Mafia.
7. Don’t eat too much pizza, pasta, gelato and pastries, even though those things are utterly delicious in Naples.
8. Don’t lean too far over the side of the boat to Sorrento, Capri or Ischia. If you don’t drown, the sewage in the Bay of Naples will kill you.
9. Watch your pockets! Naples is famous for pickpockets who work in teams especially on buses and busy museums. Keep your cash in a money belt, sock or a little pouch around your neck tucked under your shirt.
10. Don’t be afraid to go. Naples may be dangerous but it is one of the most exciting cities in the world, full of delicious food, breath-taking views, amazing history and colourful characters. If you are sensible, you will have a fabulous time in Naples and fall in love with it, too.