You can’t say that we weren’t warned about Naples. In fact, as our overnight train pulled into the main Naples train station I had the voice of our dear friend, let’s call him Nigel, ringing in my ear. “You’ll probably be stabbed by gypsies when you get off the train, by the way the train station stinks of p*ss. *Pause* *More pausing* *A final pause for good measure* but I’m sure you’ll be fine.”
As I stepped off the train I held my little travel satchel tightly and tried to look relaxed, hoping that my huge backpack, travel sandals and the fact that I was of asian origin would go un-noticed and I would be taken for a local, therefore not getting stabbed or mugged.
As it turns out, given it was 7am on a monday mornings and Italians, from what I can gather are allergic to mornings and don’t surface before 10am. Without meaning to get involved in the whole debate about gypsies in europe, this is a food/self indulgent blog after all, there is no room for astute political discussion here I should also add that gypsies didn’t seem to wake up before 10am either as we didn’t get stabbed. The downside of this whole morning allergy phenomena is that having failed to print out/procure a map of our B&B it was almost impossible to find anyone to give us directions there.
A brief text message conversation with the B&B’s owner ended in me running out of credit and relying on his word, that he would “meet me on the street.” Despite the fact that I wasn’t sure where the street was, it appeared by way of my no credit silence, I had agreed to this course of action.
I’m pretty sure, in a city which is known for petty theft, ripping off of tourists and a general scruffiness around the edges, a taxi ride wouldn’t really be advisable. In fact, I felt the ire of the smart, prepared travellers as we walked towards the cabs, I maybe even heard them give a little chuckle as they used their already printed out walking directions to find their hotel easily and cheaply. Why even having the address of the hotel written down would have been too much to ask of me that morning, all my travel smarts having fallen out the window of the train from Milan.
So, after months of a budget loving, cab free existence (in sydney as well as abroad!) we entered into a taxi. In Naples. It had a GPS. Good. We had the name of the B&B. Good. We could see the taxi driver finding the address of the B&B and punching it into the GPS. Good. We could watch, as the driver proceeded to ignore the GPS’ insistence that many of the streets which he was going down were in fact one way (the other way). Less good. We stopped abruptly in the middle of a tiny alley way and were bundled out of the cab, the fare was less than 10euros. Good.
A kind old man, looking at my bewildered and
slightly disshevelled face, says “Jessica?” It appears I had arrived, on the street.
It was a good start to our stay at Paleopoli B&B, a great three room establishment right in the middle of the Centro Storico. Their website is here, I highly recommend staying there for the fun english/high school italian conversations you can have with Eddy, the owner’s father, freshly made breakfasts and huge rooms with comfy beds.
But you didn’t come here for hotel recommendations, you came here to read about the food. Well, Naples, the home of the thinnest, most crispy crust pizza didn’t disappoint. We managed a brunch of pizza, a walk through the centro storico and then a siesta, arising late in the evening for dinner. Well, not so late, we ate at tourist time, about 8:30.
My early high school italian translated Antico Osteria Pisano into ancient kitcheny-homey-restaurant Pisano. I later found out that Pisano just meant of Pisa, clearly this is why I never followed up on my Italian speaking career. It is a homely type place, if your home is located fronting onto a square where mothers chat animatedly on a bench and children ride tricycles nosily along the cobblestones of the pavement and if your home serves up simple but delicious dishes, laying each one on your table with a smile and a flourish of the other hand as though to say (in Italian rather than French of course) “voila, this will be the greatest thing you have ever eaten.”
In fact, the hand flourish, as I will call it, isn’t too far from the truth at this little place. In fact the food was so good we came back the second night.
Pasta with calamari in a simple white wine sauce was such a highlight of the whole trip for the both of us, the calamari was tender, the pasta had a little bite back and it was seasoned to perfection. If only the serving was larger!