Pizzas like they were falling from the sky

Day 339, Naples, 20.954 km

I had already slightly adapted my diet since my arrival in Italy, with a more and more preponderant place given to pasta and pizzas. But with still a bit of variety, in a desire to also enjoy local specialties. Since I’m in Naples, and Etienne can testify to this, as he has the right to a photographic report of each of my meals, I have a very balanced diet based only on pizza and ice cream. At the rate of 2 or 3 pizzas and 2 ice creams per day. I’m glad I’m not staying too long and that I’m going to get back on my bike soon, otherwise I’ll be rooting around here pretty quickly…

Before that, I enjoyed the Eternal City, and I even added a country to my list: the Vatican. No interview with Francis though, I guess talking to a bearded man, a bicycle and a plastic dragon didn’t seem appropriate for the middle of June…

The sun sets on the Vatican…

The next day, departure at dawn and before the heat, and in spite of the fact that it is a Saturday morning, there are many cars on the road. Not the most pleasant moment when leaving the city but it doesn’t last. And I also pass clusters of Saturday cyclists, almost all of whom have a small gesture or kind word. It makes the road much more pleasant than these cars that overtake me in a hurry…

I also find the sea. I don’t know if I was too spoiled in Spain and Portugal, but I find it hard to get excited about kilometers of beach, with the thousands of umbrellas and kilometers of cars parked on the road that go with it… Fortunately, there is from time to time a small island or a mountain that breaks the disenchantment. But overall I miss the cliffs, the small creeks and the feeling of having the sea all to myself… Maybe for later…

I’m waiting for people to go back home before stopping on the beach and taking a dip. At least I have again the feeling that the sea belongs to me. And the feeling of leaving a whole day of sweat behind me is not unpleasant either. I find a small place to bivouac, close to the sea, with the firm intention to enjoy it from the first hour of the next day… No luck, I am woken up by an army of ants, fortunately they don’t sting but they are so invasive that I flee as fast as possible… We will swim later.

Maybe not today in fact, it seems that all the Italians have decided to go to the beach: the road is completely blocked in the opposite direction, and it is only 9:30 am. It is good to move by bike at last! I meet another cyclist, Santorin (I’m not sure of his first name, I forgot it when he introduced himself, I hope he won’t mind too much), who happens to work in aeronautics (it’s a small world) and who rides with me for a while. He praises the beauty of the beach we are riding along, laughs at the fact that everybody wants to go there at the same time, and when I ask him if we can get closer to the sea, he shows me the way. Unfortunately, we see more parking lots and private clubs than beach. And when we see the beach, it’s not necessarily from the best angle…

Miles of traffic jam in the morning!
Not the best view of the sea…

We pass then on a bridge closed to the traffic because it threatens to collapse… Not reassuring, especially considering the latest events with bridges in Italy, but in the end nothing particular to announce. We even have a pretty sight on the lake of Averno when arriving at Pozzuoli, where Santorin takes me around for a tour of the old city and its port, offers me a coffee and brings me to the edge of the beach before making a U-turn and returning at home. Nice!

The lake of Averno
The sea front in Pozzuoli

Then I have about ten kilometers to go to Naples, and not the easiest ones… While the road has been relatively flat and clean until now, I have to go up on the heights of the city and go down on cobblestones… With my stories of broken wheels and spokes, I am not reassured, but in the end nothing to report and I arrive without any problem at the hostel. The guy at the reception recommends me to go up to the Castel Sant’Elmo, which offers superb 360° views on the city and the bay. What he didn’t say was that you have to climb about 20,000 steps to get there and as it’s still 30°. At one moment, I wonder if I shouldn’t have waited a bit more before taking my shower for the week… In his defense, the views are really magnificent…

The bay and the island of Capri
Mount Vesuvius which dominates the city and the port

I then walk around the city before eating my second pizza of the day: it’s dirty, it stinks, it’s noisy, but so alive: music everywhere, people trying to sell souvenirs, antiques, books, a little bit of everything and nothing. Hustlers shouting to attract tourists to their restaurants. And next to that, empty streets, with dozens of scooters and colored sheets hanging from the balconies… I really like it…

The next day, following the advice of the receptionist of the hostel, I leave Jay at the parking lot and I take the train to go to Pompeii. A place that I had only seen in pictures in history books until now. And I am not disappointed: a real maze, mosaics and other perfectly preserved wall decorations, the impression of being able to close my eyes and imagine people walking in these streets, all under the (benevolent?) glance of Mount Vesuvius…

Pompeii and Vesuvius in the background
The amphitheater
With such crosswalks the cars would have to slow down !
View on the city from the forum

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