Setting off early, I arrived at Termini station to get the train to Naples. I hadn’t pre-booked my ticket but was able to buy one on the day for £19 which would get me to Naples in a couple of hours. If you get organised and pre-book your tickets you can get a single journey for around 9 euros but be aware that there are different speeds of trains ranging from the fast train (the most expensive) to the slowest which takes around 3 hours.
As soon as I arrived in Naples I was greeted with complete chaos. Lots of characters milling around the streets and speaking to me in Italian, hundreds of cars passing through the main square honking their horns, and generally lots of noise. I liked this place already. Once I got to the centre of Naples and started exploring busy side streets adorned with shops selling anything and everything, I started to get hungry. I was on a mission to sample some of the legendary pizza that I had heard so much about. Had I researched where to find such pizza places? Nope. Luckily after 10-15 minutes of wandering around I saw a pizza restaurant with lots of people queuing and commotion outside. Bingo.
Sorbillo’s is located on Via dei Tribunali and apparently dates back to 1935. The wait for a table was only around 10 minutes (it was a Tuesday lunchtime) and once seated upstairs I started to peruse the menu which naturally consisted of more varieties of pizza than I could process. The pizzas were cheap (3-10 euros each depending on toppings) and they were huge. When I say huge I mean they were hanging off the plate. There were two of us ordering so we had one margherita and one with olives and tomatoes. I had only got halfway through before I started to feel really full and reluctantly had to admit defeat. Never one to waste food I asked the waiter for a box so I could take the rest away. As you can see from the pictures the base of the pizza was very thin with a crispy crust. The way that they are prepared and cooked means that the pizza gets thinner and juicier in the middle (I’ve since heard people refer to them as soggy) but I loved the pizzas here. A tactic I should have employed was to start in the middle before working my way outwards to the crust to beat that premature full feeling.
Even though I felt like I couldn’t move after lunch, I couldn’t resist trying some street food. I had seen several people walking around with brown paper cones filled with what looked like small savoury snacks. These normally consist of anything from croquettes to savoury fried bites. There were lots of cafés /delicatessens opening out onto the street offering an array of local delicacies and my only regret is that I didn’t try them all.
The first one I tried was a cube of sausage and polenta which was tasty but very salty. I liked the texture though – crispy and fried on the outside and chewy in the centre. The second was a pasta frittata which I can only describe as macaroni that had been deep fried into a ball. It was delicious – again crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside.
After a few hours in Naples it was time to head back to the station ad get the train to Pompeii. After some initial confusion, we were told to head downstairs to get the Circumvesuviana line to Pompeii Scavi. The journey took approximately 50 minutes and only cost €2.60. I arrived at Pompeii Scavi for mid-afternoon and only had to walk a few metres until I reached the site. It cost 11 euros for entry and guided tours were offered from the station. I was quite tired at this point and wanted to go at my own pace so opted for the audio guide (5 euros). While this started off well it was very easy to get lost and by the end I had given up and ditched it. So, in hindsight a guided tour would have been much more informative but it was also nice to wander around and explore at my own pace, dipping in and out of rooms and imagining what life was like back then. It’s funny when you read about somewhere and then visit yourself. I hadn’t expected that parts of it would be so well preserved and the outlines of houses and streets were clearly visible even down to the mosaic artwork. I found every aspect of it fascinating and will definitely be returning at some point to do Herculaneum and Mouth Vesuvius as well.
I spent around 3 hours at the site and after an action-packed day I was ready for bed. I had decided to stay overnight in Pompeii as I wasn’t sure what time I would be finished. The centre of Pompeii is a quiet, sleepy town so don’t expect to be up all night partying. However, it was good to get some rest despite being woken up early in the morning by what sounded like a cockerel and church bells. For those who want to skip the stopover and head straight to Sorrento then it’s back on the good old Circumvesuviana line from Pompeii Scavi which should get you there in around 30 minutes. After what can only be described as a jam-packed 4 days I was looking forward to arriving at the coast for some much needed rest.