Still continuing from the Azamara Quest story, after our day on the Amalfi Coast, we arrived back in Sorrento to find one last member of staff waiting to get us on a little boat and back onto the ship. Sorrento has no port and, after reports of a rough night ahead, we were requested to sail up to Naples, where it’d be safer to spend the night.

The next day, instead of going back to Sorrento, we decided to stick around and explore Naples. At breakfast, one of the other passengers talked about a very nice and quirky neighbourhood that we had to visit because it was, according to him, the real Naples.

We followed his advice and, after a stroll by the main tourist area we walked up a hill and through some alleyways straight to the heart of the Spanish Quarter, where people’s intimate lives seemed to pour out of homes and onto the streets. There were no sidewalks and any sort of private/public notion seemed to have never existed. Cars shared space with boys playing football and racks of drying clothes that stood outside. Bedrooms and kitchens opened up directly to the street and even the sacred was mixed in it, with lots of little shrines everywhere. It was gritty and messy and also the beginning of another rubbish crisis in the area, visible by the pile of trash in the middle of a square with a “Grazie Berlusconi” cardboard sign adorning its top. Still, it was impossible not to love it. I don’t really like the generalising “poor but happy” notion and I had no way of knowing in such short time if people there were happy or not, but very nice they surely were.

On the way down, we took the time to look at every single car parked on a very long street. Out of 100 that we counted, only one was not dented, scratched or full on smashed at least in one place. But I guess after our drive the previous day, that should have been expected.

Up next it was our shaky day at sea and off to the Adriatic.