Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Italy Cruise Week: Naples

This week is Cruise Week!  So far we've done: Tips Before Sailing and insights into Venice.  Today:  Naples.

When I was in first grade my mom took me to an amazing exhibit about Pompeii.  That experience is still engraved in my mind.  It totally shaped me.  So, my choice for one day in Naples is very easy:  I recommend a visit to Pompeii or Herculaneum.

The cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum were buried in a volcanic eruption in 79 AD – freezing and preserving a slice of Roman life in vivid detail.  The excavations of both cities are remarkable places to visit, and Herculaneum tends to be less crowded than Pompeii. 

The archaeological parks, Soprintenza Archeologica di Napoli i Pompeii,  aren’t too far from the cruise ships and are accessible by train.  The website has information about how to do this depending on where your ship docks.  The trip is a day-long event.  Be sure to plan for the heat as the park is large and largely out of doors.

For your visit to Pompeii, you might consider hiring a guide.  This doesn’t have to be an expensive proposition – generally under €100 per hour for a family-sized group, and an experienced guide can make navigating an unfamiliar city much easier.  Indeed, they can also make the ruins like those a Pompeii or Herculaneum come alive in a way that even the best guidebook can’t. 

A note about guides:  
In Italy as in most European countries, professional guides must be licensed.  They take extensive university-level coursework in Italian history and must pass rigorous exams proving their competency before being granted a license.  Sadly, there are lots of people out there who masquerade as licensed guides accosting overwhelmed travelers and offering them guided tours of the Colosseum, the Forum, etc.  They often gather as travelers disembark from cruise ships or stand in lines at places like the Vatican Museums. 

Please do not hire them. 

First, they aren’t licensed, so you are taking away business from the people who have worked really hard to become tour guides.  I have listened to some of them speak and the “history” they are schilling is pathetically incorrect.  But more importantly, you are risking your safety.  There are reports of tourists being robbed and worse by criminals who offer to show them around the city.  If you want a guided tour (and I highly recommend it), contract with a licensed guide. 

If you want to hire a guide:

When I take groups of travelers to Italy, I work exclusively with Experience Italy.  They only plan travel in Italy, and they are fantastic!  Be sure to tell Dick and Lori that I sent you. They will take good care of you.

I’ve included a few other sites on the map of Naples that may be of interest to you including:

  • Church of San Francesco di Paola
  • Il Duomo
  • Cappella Sansevero
 Check out these and all Cruise Week locations on the Cruise Week Map:

View Cruise Week: Italy in a larger map

  • recently ran a series about visiting Pompeii and Herculaneum on your own.  They have great advice about both locations and some general tips as well:
  1. Pompeii and Herculaneum: Visitor Tips
  2. Visiting Pompeii
  3. VisitingHerculaneum: Pompeii's Overlooked Neighbor

Questions about Naples?  Post them here!
Tomorrow: on to Rome!
All photos courtesy of Erick Photomurals.


Joan Schmelzle said...

If a visitor to Pompeii does not want to spend the money to pay a licensed guide,(which, of course, would be best) I have found the audio guide available there very helpful and also interesting. I have listened to Vesuvius erupt and to Pliy the Younger's description of the eruption just by pushing extra buttons on the guide.

Fliss and Mike Adventures said...

We had the chance to go to Pompeii... a dream of mine came true... to actually walk those streets... oh it was amazing but since we only had 2 weeks in Italy we had gotten on a tour of the place... though we had a guide... it was awesome...

Angela K. Nickerson said...

Joan, thanks! I haven't used the audio guide. So glad to hear it is a good one.

Thanks for stopping by!

Vera Marie Badertscher said...

Hi Angela:
Just wanted you to know that I agree with you 100 percent on the "Traveler's History of..." Books. They are available for many countries, and really are great. Small enough so you can take them along and look at the specific place you're visiting, too.

Welcome back! If you haven't already, I hope you'll subscribe to my RSS feed so we can stay in touch. Ciao!


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