Barbara & Heather - Italy 2018 travel blog

Porta Capuana

Castel Capuana

Heather's seafood salad

My tuna and anchovy salad

Spinach fritters

Monday 21st May: After a meagre breakfast at the villa, we said goodbye to Gina who was staying a couple of extra days in Matera. Angelo had organised a driver to take us to the bus stop in Bari and Agnes and Jerry on to the airport so it was goodbye to them also. The trip on the Marinobus to Naples was a very comfortable non-stop three hours and we arrived just before 2pm. It was far from quiet, though, with everyone yabbering loudly in Italian to each other or into their phones.

The northern and coastal country of Puglia is very flat and for the first hour at least the scenery was olive trees in every direction with an occasional field of vines or other crop. The olive tree is the symbol of Puglia and no wonder - there is an estimated 50 million of them (that’s 10 olive trees for every man, woman and child in Queensland) and Puglia produces about 70% of Italy’s olive oil. The trees range from little newly planted to gnarled and twisted ones up to 900 years old. Where they could be seen the shapes were endlessly fascinating. As we moved into Campania the country became more hilly with wheat and vines replacing the olives and resembled the interior of Sicily.

The bus arrived next to the central train station and our hotel, Ibis Styles, was just 5 minutes around the corner of the enormous Piazza Garibaldi. I made the trip a few blocks longer, however, by missing a small sign to the hotel. It has been newly renovated and redecorated and was very bright, fresh and sparkling clean.

After unpacking, we made a foray north from Piazza Garibaldi and found the Porta Capuana (undergoing restoration), a sturdy defensive gate part of the old city walls dating from 1490. Across the road was the white Castle Capuana, once the residence of the Norman king William I and later became the courthouse. We made our way back through the Forcella quarter, the very old centre of Naples, filled with hawkers selling CDs and sunglasses and contraband seafood as well as street food stalls. It is also the main city -centre stronghold of the Camorra and home to its most important families. This was a fascinating if seedy introduction to Naples but did not feel unsafe. Ripped jeans and tights are the go and the tighter the better. So no worries about putting on weight - the closer the clothes fit, the better we will fit in.

We ate at a new cafe, Attanasio, on the corner in Piazza Garibaldi and both had lovely salads.

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