Postcard 6 – Castellamare to Naples to Rome

Rain – lots of it.
The Pilgrim has gone to Herculaneum and I’m thinking about a cable car to the top of the local mountain. In fairness, mountain is probably not the best description. In height it’s about the same as Roseberry but it affords wonderful views and it’s covered in vegetation; however, the rain has set in and by that I mean stairods. It’s not an angry storm like the ones I’ve experienced in the tropics, it’s heavy duty, driving wet stuff that falls from the sky like someone kicked over a never emptying bucket or redirected Niagara Falls. As the droplets hit a hard surface there’s an audible crack and the results merge together to form a stream down the gutter of the narrow road outside the apartment. I change my plans re the cable car and decide on the relative dry of the Circumvesuviana to Naples and hope for an improvement.

There we two levels of service on the Circumvesuviana. You’re either treated like cattle in the normal trains that become so packed you could expire and no one would know because there’s not enough room to fall down; however, you do get the usual rudeness and indifference from the officials. There is an alternative though, once an hour, you can alight the ‘express’. This is a train with less graffiti but has a supplement of 13 euros on which you can ‘maybe’ have a seat but you still get the rudeness and indifference from the officials as a free upgrade. I say you can maybe have a seat, that really should read, it’s very likely as it swings from running with only nine officials who are paid to stand at the doors and check your ticket. There are two on each door and four sets of doors and we’ve seen these trains accelerate out of the station with no passengers but carrying all of the officials! Today though I think the rain must have influenced the travellers and it’s all but full however, in a fit of naughtiness that befits a seventy two year old child I use a technique that my mam would have referred to as ‘trying it on’ and confidently walk towards one of the officials with my one euro ticket and say, “This is the express?”.

I add an upward inflection to turn it into a question whilst simultaneously proffering the ticket and I’m rewarded by a nod of confirmation and the wave of an indifferent arm inviting me on to his hallowed train.

OK, not all wins are lottery but I’m bathed in a slightly anxious glow as the ‘express’ delivers me to Naples in a seat and I’m back in the rain seven minutes earlier than using the other train but at least I had a seat.

There’s a break in the cloud and blue skies appear so I approach the ticket booth for an open topped city tour whilst I await the return of the Pilgrim who’s just about to board the grockle-class at Herculaneum.

The blue has just disappeared and the stair-rods start again so the tour is off and I’m sitting in a cafe off Napoli Garibaldi when a text arrives. I’m in Garibaldi and I’ll meet you ‘here’. It’s a What3Words (W3W) location that we’ve agreed to use and it’s highly effective although this time we’re so close it’s not necessary.

The W3W address though is an Italian food place that enjoys some spectacular reviews on TripAdvisor so we walk for ten minutes and find it exactly where W3W tells us it should be and there’s a queue. Now Italian queue make no sense. We join it, get to the front, then enjoy a period of complete anonymity as people from behind and people that seem to be ‘known’ together with people that we’ve never seen before are asked inside.

A few minutes in and a man who may or may not have been a manager asks for a name and the Pilgrim gives hers and I think we’re a roll – but no – the above scenario is repeated and we’re becoming increasingly disillusioned and slightly hostile when the name is called and we’re invited in. It’s an interesting old place and we’re glad to be seated. We’re also in a for a bit of a surprise as our waiter is very pleasant, helpful and even smiles. The food is divine and the wait becomes retrospectively worthwhile – it’s full marks on this one and we leave as happy bunnies.

Back at the station we’re redirected from one train company to the appropriate one and receive excellent service from a gentleman who issues us with the reservations we require at two euros less than online. I mention this in passing because we experience some very challenging service in a couple of days.
It’s a two story train and we’re treated to some marvellous scenery as we’re whisked through the beautiful Italian countryside. It’s such an uplifting end to a day when Italian officialdom (not the people) were less than perfect.

The remainder of the day is a wonderful revelation of architecture and history that gets even better tomorrow.

Enjoy the snaps G x

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